How to start a queen in a two-frame nuc

I had a request to write about how I start queens using a two-frame mating box such as the Brushy Mountain “Queen Castle.” The Queen Castle is a standard size deep brood box that can be divided into four two-frame sections, each with its own entrance. But the following instructions could be used for any small mating nuc, regardless of the configuration.

First, prepare the box.

Next, select your starter frames. With a system like this, you can start with swarm cells or you can start with eggs and very young brood.

Starting with swarm cells:

Starting with eggs and brood:

Variation:

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Each section of the “queen castle” has its own entrance.
Each section of the “queen castle” has its own entrance.

Comments

kyCat007
Reply

Excellent advice, Rusty. Thanks. Did not find anything usable anywhere else.

Cathy
Reply

We just modified a queen castle into 3 separate compartments, built from scratch. Each compartment will hold 3 frames or 9 total frames for the castle. My question is this. We’re starting with the brood and eggs method – can we populate each section with one frame each of brood, honey/pollen and drawn out to make it easier for the workers? In other words, is one brood frame per section enough?

Rusty
Reply

Cathy,

I have started as many as four in one queen castle, which comes out to only one frame of brood and one of honey per section. I’ve had good results with this method and no problems. Just be sure to move them when they start out-growing the space.

Diana
Reply

I am intrigued by your queen castle. How do you cover each section individually? Please describe your inner cover for a four-nuc deep. Does each nuc have a ventilation hole? I keep trying to think this through and my brain is in knots!

Rusty
Reply

Each section has it’s own inner cover. You can see the one I have at BrushyMountainBeeFarm.com.

Richard
Reply

I have a question about moving queens and bees out of the queen castle. Do you have to be careful about positioning? You have an article about moving hives any distance by forcing bees to re-orient themselves. Does that apply if you move frames out of the queen castle and into a nuc?

Rusty
Reply

Richard,

Whenever you have a colony that includes foragers, the foraging bees will return to the original location of their hive. If the hive is moved far, a couple miles or so, the bees will reorient themselves right away as they leave the hive. But if the hive is close to the original site, they do not automatically re-orient and so become confused when they return home. So yes, if your frames contain foraging bees, the foragers will return to the queen castle. If the frames contain just the queen and nurse bees there is no problem.

Richard
Reply

Thanks for that.

So what procedure do you recommend? Do you check or make sure you only have nurse bees in your queen castle? If so, how? Otherwise what do you do when moving the bees out of the castle?

Rusty
Reply

Richard,

I don’t do anything. A queen castle is not very big and so does not support a lot of bees. I just move the frames with the queen, brood, and nurses into the the nuc. The foragers will scatter eventually and probably find a home somewhere.

Leave a comment

name*

email* (not published)

website