Excluding your queen . . . or not
Do I use a queen excluder? The answer is “absolutely.” As a matter of fact, I used one all winter to keep my dog out of the chicken yard. It fits perfectly over a hole in the fence and was easy to install with cable ties.
Oh, you mean for bees? Heavens, no. Never, never. I’m of the group that believes a queen excluder is a honey excluder. Not only that, they are in the way and always gummed up with propolis. I tried them one year and gave up.
So how do I keep my queen out of the honey supers? Simple. I put a section honey super directly above the brood chamber and put the rest of the honey supers above that. No queen in her right mind will venture into a section super to lay eggs. It simply isn’t regal enough. A queen wants a mansion, not a cubicle. She wants her family altogether in one place, not in separate rooms.
Okay, once in a great while a spirited queen will wander up and try it out, but as soon as the thrill is gone, she will wander down whence she came. About once every three years I find a couple of sections with a row of brood at the bottom, but it doesn’t happen often enough to worry about.
It doesn’t matter if you use square or round sections, either one works fine for this purpose. Above the section super you can put any type of honey super you like, including more section supers, cut-comb supers, or extracting supers. The queen just doesn’t want to go there.
With this method you can stop worrying about whether you are excluding the queen, the honey, or the drones. Rather than getting a headache from all that fretting, you get a super of comb honey instead. And if the colony fills the sections quickly—and some do it better than others—you can always pull out the sections and replace them with empties.
In the meantime, keep that excluder for something useful.