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Patterson Method of Queen Rearing

A simple method for raising one batch of Q/Cs

Using a Colony on Single Brood Box

This is my version of a fairly well known method of raising Q/Cs, where a normal honey producing colony becomes temporarily queenless to start Q/Cs, then reverts to queenright to finish them. Although the original was not my idea, I have given this version my name for ease of identification and because I have modified it significantly to suit my management system of using brood boxes as supers to draw out foundation above a queen excluder.

This method can be an alternative to the queenless colony for the ordinary beekeeper who doesn't need a continuous supply of Q/Cs. It has the advantage of there not being a brood break as the queenless colony has. You can also set this colony up later in the season to produce further batches of Q/Cs.

It is very productive as it produces honey, good brood combs and several queens. It means I can use a group A colony without having to remove the queen. I often use larvae from the same colony.

  1. Use a strong colony in a single brood box (box A) that is not preparing to swarm. There should be a brood box (box B) that is being used as a super at least half filled with honey, with preferably some unsealed, above a queen excluder. This could come from another colony. You could shake the bees out, but they rarely fight. There may be shallow supers too.
  2. Place a fresh floor several feet away from the colony, if more than 6 feet the direction doesn't matter. If closer, put the floor to one side of the colony and a bit further back, with the entrance facing the opposite direction.
  3. Remove any supers and put box A onto the new floor.
  4. Put box B on the original floor with entrance in original direction.
  5. Remove five frames with least honey in from box B, leaving gap in the middle with unsealed food towards the gap.
  6. Take four frames with adhering bees and brood in all stages from box A. Put in box B, two each side, leaving gap in the middle of the box.
  7. Shake a couple of frames of bees from frames of brood in box A into box B. The queen must stay in box A.
  8. Put supers back on top of box B.
  9. Fill box A with combs from box B. Replace the queen excluder on box A. Close up both "hives".
  10. After 3-4 hours the now queenless bees in box B will be frantic. Insert a frame of larvae.
  11. Check 2-4 hours later and replace any rejects.
  12. About 24 hours after inserting the larvae lift box B, put box A back on original floor. Replace box B on top above the queen excluder.

Roger Patterson.