What is a Queen Castle?

Buzzingham Palace with Roof

Buzzingham Palace with Roof

Queen CellWe had a situation a few weeks back where we found a colony with multiple Queen Cells, so I figured there must be a better way to deal with this, rather than having to use multiple boxes. Or worse still running out of boxes and lose these valuable new queens.

A bit of googling we discovered the Queen Castle. The queen castle is a full sized box, split into four separate sections. Each section has its own entrance and is effectively a separate colony. The theory is that you place a queen cell with brood and a frame of honey in each section.

You then wait for the queen to hatch and mate, once she starts laying eggs, you move her to a larger hive or Nuc box. It all sounds great, lets see how it works.

Advantages

Frames in Queen CastleHaving all the colonies in the same box, gives them all heat from each other.
I also made the box walls very thick to provide extra insulation for them. The walls are around 25mm thick. Each section is divided by a thin piece of wood, to avoid the newly hatched queen killing all the other unhatched ones.

I painted each side very differently to make it easier for the returning queens to go into the correct entrance, it’s an experiment I will tell you how we get on with it in the coming weeks.

Split Enz Inspired Walls

Split Enz Inspired Walls

Have you ever used a Queen Castle

How did you find it, any tips for a beginner Queen Castle user?

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About Gary Fawcett

Gary enjoys designing new kiwimana products which we sell through our on-line shop. He is passionate about saving the Bees and encouraging urban beekeeping. Gary loves to write about issues that affect the Bees and our environment. He is also into tramping/walking in the beautiful New Zealand bush.

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6 Responses to What is a Queen Castle?

  1. Santiago says:

    Can you send me plans for your Queen Castle?
    Thank you,
    Santiago Wallace

    • Gary Fawcett says:

      Hi Santiago,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Sorry no plans for this one Santiago, I just made a full sized box and divided the brood chamber in half and then half again, I cut the slots and then made the dividers.

      Get in touch if you have any other questions, its not too hard to make.

      Gary

  2. Jeanette says:

    That’s a clever idea, Gary. The unusual painted designs confused me until I read your explanation and realised – I should have remembered that!

    • Gary Fawcett says:

      Hee Hee yes that’s the artist in me Jeanette, we saw that on a show about a Queen Breeding.

      Anything we can do to help her return to the correct colony the better.

      Thanks for the feedback…Gary

  3. Tyson says:

    I’ve been knocking about ideas for my mating adventure this upcoming spring. I’d thought of making individual mating nucs but this is the most elegant and least painful idea I’ve seen so far, Gary.

    I think I’m going to make mine in a medium box and use 9 frames instead of 10, using the extra space to slide in dividers, for 3 frames a space. The differently painted sides are brilliant. I’ll let you know how it goes for me!

  4. Steve Bugnacki says:

    Yes Gary, I finally used my queen castle this spring here in Virginia, USA. to make mine I had taken my skill saw/ circular saw and cut two groves on the narrower ends of a deep box. I made a few passes to make it about a half inch (12.7 mm) wide. Then I took 3/8 ths inch plywood (9.5 mm) and made divider boards to slide down pass the bottom of the box to a mesh bottom. On top I made three inner covers, one for each section. I use the full cover to go over that. They were three frame sections with entrances towards the back on the sides. Well when I took queen cells that were cut out and put them into a piece of wax foundation on a frame in addition to a frame of bees with nectar/ partial honey. (perhaps a frame of just about ready to hatch brood would be better but I did not want to rob from my strong hives any more frames as I had started several small hive boxes a few weeks earlier). Well what I found out was that even though there were openings on the sides for the side chambers, many of the bees just returned and came into the center entrance that faced the front. One side they have abandoned, the other side just a small cluster to keep the queen cell warm. Not real happy but maybe I will modify my set up next time for a higher entrance on the front or simply put it in the back after just turning the hive around. And remember that black and red are the same color to the bees when you paint them. (you can use red clear plastic over a flashlight if you have to do anything with the bees at night. They do not see the color red, hence not disturbed in the slightest by the light) I did two of the queen castles like this. I will check on the other one tomorrow when our weather gets better. Bless the Bees.

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