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Queen breeding specialism discussion forum.
 #4847  by Chrisbarlow
 17 Sep 2019, 19:50
Does any one use the Ben Harden queen rearing method and if so, what are your thoughts?
 #4848  by Patrick
 18 Sep 2019, 16:12
Hi Chris

We used this about a decade ago when helping run a queen rearing course. Its a derivative of the method followed by the NBU as written up by David Wilkinson and Mike Brown in the article linked at the bottom of the beebase page on queen rearing

Its quite straightforward, uses a normal production colony, can still produce honey that year, requires just your normal kit with just a couple of extra "fat" dummy boards (very easy to make with scrap timber or spare empty old frames). May not take every cell first time round but often better with a second batch and that allows other kit to be reused as well. Doesn't require lots of multiple hive reconfiguring to produce hundreds of cells the average hobbyist has absolutely no need for (its all very well these online videos of commercial producers with their bee porn strips of endless perfect grafted cells, but the average Joe doesn't even have enough kit to get 5 mated let alone 500). You can also move the cell rearing box up the stack to make checking easier without dismantling the whole thing. Personally I thought it better to initially put the cell rearing box above the first super (above the queen excluder), to ensure the separation necessary to encourage cell building

I do remember due to the time of year that the colony also tried to swarm in the box below - so don't forget normal inspections of the brood chamber whilst queen rearing is underway. And be sensible, don't use an already small colony to start with.

Got me thinking to try it again next year! ;)
 #4849  by Chrisbarlow
 18 Sep 2019, 16:29
Thanks Patrick.

That's extremely helpful. It's good to hear from some one who has tried it and can vouch for it.

Wasn't aware of the NBU guide. Will take a look later.
 #4919  by AdamD
 01 Oct 2019, 10:16
This is queenright queenraising which is a technique that I tend to employ - unless I have a queenless colony at the right time. (Sorry only just got around to reading the method on the DC website).

In the Ben Harden method, the queencells are quite close to the queen, so I would expect that the uptake can be poor - especially early in the season. What I do is to leave the queen on one frame in the lower brood box and fill the box with foundation / drawn comb as available and then place a q/ex on top. Then a super or two before the remainder of the brood on top of a second queen excluder. The queen is now well away from the brood and the supercedure impulse is more likely, (I would expect). Even so, occasionally, the colony is reluctant to draw out queencells. They are usually better at the second attempt.
 #4922  by Chrisbarlow
 01 Oct 2019, 17:29
Thanks AdamD, good point about queen pheromones and also some times it takes more than one graft attempt.
 #4923  by AdamD
 01 Oct 2019, 19:30
Patrick wrote:
01 Oct 2019, 16:54
Do you ever get other queen cells raised in the top box of brood Adam?
Yes, I usually leave the colony for a few days before putting queencells in and cut the unwanted queencells out before I put the lid down on them. The general rules apply - ensure there is plenty of pollen and open brood. I usually feed a little each day to ensure there is plenty of income. I only raise 9 or 10 queencells at a time so I don't need the colony to be jam packed with bees as some suggest when doing 60 cells in one go; I am not doing industrial quantities. After a day I check to see if there are any that have not been started and can graft more in at that time. Once the cells are sealed, I don't need to feed any more.
Something that Roger Patterson has mentioned in the past and I have also observed is that sometimes there's a queencell that seems to have been 'held back' that's a couple of days later than the others, so it's always worth double checking a couple of days AFTER the theory says that no more queencells will be produced. As they say, bees don't read books.
 #4925  by Patrick
 02 Oct 2019, 08:59
Cheers Adam. Useful clarification for those giving it a go.

I agree completely about the bee numbers. The bursting at the seams levels needed to raise huge numbers of cells is all very well in that scenario, but all hobbyists are usually looking for is a similar number of cell to that the bees would typically raise if swarming. As mentioned before, it’s more than likely a second batch will be required anyway.

The thing I liked about the Ben Harden queen right method was that it was only slightly different from normal colony management.