&   SEARCH
David A. Cushman logo
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 same 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 above a queen excluder, that is at least half filled with honey, with preferably some unsealed. This could come from another colony, if so, 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 a 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, with queen excluder between to prevent drones from getting into the supers.
  9. In box A, bring combs of brood into the middle, then 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 and supers if any. Replace box B on top above the queen excluder. The bees should continue to build queen cells.

When the queen cells are ready for distribution, there are several things you can do. You have two brood boxes, so you could run double brood, split to make another colony, or, as one box has new combs, you can do a comb change.

If you run your bees on double brood, this method can still be used in a modified way. It is so flexible, that the progressive beekeeper could find several options.

Let's take a closer look at what we have done. We have temporarily split a full queenright honey producing colony, so the part on the original stand is queenless, but should be well populated in bees. They start queen cells under the emergency impulse. After about 24 hours, when we know how many queen cells they have started, we bring it back together as a queenright colony and the bees continue to raise queen cells, but because they are partly isolated from the queen, with no footprint pheromone, this will be under the supersedure impulse.

Roger Patterson.

Page created 10/04/2015

Page updated 31/12/2022