comb honey

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.



    • Lorry,

      You are not alone! Dozens of people asked me this. My bad. My next post will cover this with photos. I hope. If it stops raining.

  • Can you define what a “section honey super” is? I assume it’s just an empty (a box with no frames) super, that you use as a spacer, but I’m not sure since you refer to it as a “section”.



  • I’m not sure section honey supers are an affordable options for some beekeepers. Where I live, a honey super of Ross Rounds, for instance, not including the replacement rings, costs at least $100, not including $30 or more for taxes and shipping. Per hive, those costs add up quickly.

    • Phillip,

      Excellent point. I began beekeeping just so I could make square sections, so my goals were different than most. Still, the square sections were cheap when I started. I remember fretting that unfolded sections were $22/100. Now they are close to $90/100. All that changed over the course of about one year. I recall being astounded, bowled over by the quick change. Ross Rounds are prohibitive. I have one that I bought and used so I could answer questions about them. They work, but wow, they are crazy expensive and not really very good, imho.

  • Hi Rusty, What ‘section’ system would you recommend? Or do you currently use (aside from Ross)? In an ideal world I would prefer to avoid putting plastic in my hives but hey ho 😉

    • Mark,

      I’m glad you brought this old post to my attention. I don’t even remember it, and it definitely needs a rewrite.

      I’m not a fan of plastic either, so I’ve gone to shallow frames with starter strips for my comb honey. And that requires a queen excluder. Funny thing, though, I’ve had no trouble getting comb honey as long as I use upper entrances, one per super. The honey collectors go in and out of the upper entrances and don’t have to go through the excluder. The pollen collectors go in and out of the main entrance. Works great.

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