24th October 2017
There are many different ways to use this amazing tool with great success and we are continually experimenting with various new methods and techniques to achieve the best results. See the instructions and tips below for the standard procedures to implement this new Queen Bee Motel.
- Fit either plastic or wax comb foundation to the Tri-fold frames. Plastic foundation will require a coating of beeswax to help the bees get started and to draw the comb.
- Fit them into a strong hive next to the brood nest. The bees will draw it out quickest if just 1 frame is added to each side of the brood frames at a time. Eg. A 2 storey beehive could have 2 of the Q8 frames in the bottom box and 2 in the top. Depending on the amount of brood frames in the hive, you may have to remove 4 frames of brood and add them to a weaker hive. If there is no nectar flow, give them a feed of sugar syrup and they will draw them fast. Always check for AFB first. The bottom box is usually preferred because they will then add less honey and more brood. A single storey hive will do this very well if stimulated with a light sugar syrup. With wax foundation, we have seen the bees draw it out and the queen lay eggs in it within 5 days.
- Once the frames have capped brood, they are ready to be used. Take the frame with plenty of bees (without the Queen) and add it to the Q8. If the frame is not full of bees, shake extra bees into a bucket and scoop them into the Q8. Carefully locate a ripe queen cell between the top bars of the frame and fit the top feeder. Keep all the Q8 entry doors closed.
- After fitting all the frames, it is best to shift the Q8 at least 4 kilometres so that any field bees are retained. Give them a feed of sugar syrup.
- The queen will emerge from the cell and usually mate within 1 week if the weather conditions are favourable. Check for eggs after 3 weeks. If none, give them 6 more days. It is best to wait to see nice capped brood before caging the queen and uniting it to a larger beehive or selling it. Always check for AFB first.
- Add another queen cell and repeat the process. After removing the laying queen, it is a good idea to leave them queenless for 2 to 24 hours before adding a new queen cell if possible.
- If there are still no eggs after 4 weeks, it is likely the queen has got lost or had an accident during the mating flights. Have a look for any queen. If you do find one, it is likely best to kill it and unite this frame to one next door that has a good laying queen.
- To unite frames, it is best to remove the frame with no queen, spray the bees gently with Vanilla essence, (mixed 1:1 with water) remove the divider board next to it, spray the exposed bees with vanilla, refit the queenless frame and re-fit the top feeders. Ensure they have enough feed and add syrup if necessary.
- Over the next few days, the good queen will lay eggs in the frame that was queenless. When the brood is capped, find the queen, re-fit the divider board and add a ripe queen cell to the frame that has no queen. It is a good idea to leave them queenless for 2 to 24 hours before adding a new queen cell but not mandatory.
A. We highly recommend using a frame grip tool (product code 750-0250) when removing or re-fitting the frames. It makes the process much more smooth and gentle.
B. If there are risks of robbing, fold the entry doors upwards so there is only a gap of one bee space.
C. If multiple Q8s are being used, it is very important to locate them at least 3m apart and in varying positions to create an element of uniqueness for each individual colony. The virgin queens must be able to find their own hive easily when returning from a mating flight. It is good to have a few trees or shrubs nearby that the bees can use as landmarks.
D. The folding stands sold by Beequip NZ are highly recommended. (Product code 840-0021) It puts the Q8 at a nice working height to save your back. They have 4 height adjustments. See photo on next page.
E. If you see a large cluster of bees around the entry, it means the colony is over full and will most likely swarm. There are several solutions. If you have an empty Q8 space, shift the frame with too many bees to it. Check you include the queen. Spray the remaining bees in the original hive with Vanilla. Remove the divider board next to it and spray the exposed bees with Vanilla also. Add an empty frame of foundation and give them a feed of syrup. Repeat step 9 above. If you have beehives at another location that is at least 4 km away, go to the Q8s at dusk when the clusters outside the hive is greatest. Spray gently with Vanilla then scoop them up and put into a vented box. After collecting as many as necessary, spray again with Vanilla and add them to Q8s or beehives that need strengthening and are 4km away so the field bees don’t come back. Spray the receiving hive also with some vanilla to prevent undue fighting. Always check for AFB in any beehives before shifting bees or frames.
F. During a flow, the bees are likely to build extra comb in the pollen patty compartment of the top feeder. It is possible then for the queen to “hide” in this comb when you are searching for her. We recommend that the special small queen excluders (product code 950-0051.6) are fitted to solve this potential problem.
G. In most parts of NZ, it is possible to overwinter 4 queens. (8 in Northland) At the appropriate time in Autumn, remove 4 dividers and the excess queens, and let the 4 colonies build up maximum bee numbers before winter. Ensure they have adequate stores. They may need a top up of heavy syrup mid-winter.
H. An alternative method of starting a Q8 is to collect bees from 3 different beehives by shaking into a large bucket. (The 40 litre flexi tub buckets ex The Warehouse work well) Make sure the old queens are left in their beehives! Let the field bees fly back to their hive then spray with vanilla. It is mostly the gentle nurse bees that will be left. Pour them into 500ml jars and fit a vented lid. Add 1 litre of bees per Q8 compartment and gently fit the frames with comb foundation fitted. Keep all entry doors closed. Allow the bees a little time to walk onto the frame. Get a virgin queen within 1 or 2 days old. Spray any bees at the top of the hive with vanilla and lightly spray the queen. Then let the virgin queen walk out of her cage onto the frame and re-fit the top feeder. Add about 1cm of syrup. Shift the Q8 to a dark cool place and fill the feeders. Leave locked up for 72 hours then shift to a site that is preferably 3 or 4km away from where the bees were collected. Top up the feeders and open the doors. 72 hours are required for each colony to develop their unique scent. Check them for feed requirements at least twice a week until they have drawn the comb and have some reserve of stores. Always check for AFB in any beehives before shifting bees or frames.
I. It is also possible to overwinter 8 queens in a Q8 by fitting a community super in Summer or early Autumn. See photo below. Procedure to set up:-
- Fit extra entry (950-0054) at the front. Use a 30mm hole saw. They can be fitted while the bees are in the hive if necessary. Use 4 latch screws to secure.
- The centre divider board needs to be secured to stop it slipping down. While it is resting on the floor, fit a 38mm stainless steel screw through the front face of the box and the back face.
- Fit the super (950-1031) to the floor. Secure the latch kits. (950-0012L) It is best to get the frames drawn out on another hive and some honey stored in the frames before fitting. Depending on bee numbers and robber bees etc, we usually open one floor entry one bee space high, so they can remove any dead bees if required.
- Fit the queen excluder (950-0051E) with aluminium support facing down. Make a small gap if needed between the 2 centre frames in the super.
- Fit the red lower entry sheet. (950-0051T Sheet with 8 large holes.)
- Fit the 21mm wooden spacer rim. (950-0051R)
- Fit the Q8 over top. We usually fit an Emlock strap to keep it secure. (750-0570)
If you need to lift the Q8 off to inspect the super, it is important to lift the Q8, rim, entry sheet and excluder all together as an assembly to keep it all queen proof. Place it on an upturned roof.
Beequip NZ Ph 03 528 9404