Queen Castles

How to make queens for yourself, don't be held back by the availability from somebody who is not local to you.
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Allen Newberry
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Queen Castles

Postby Allen Newberry » Mon Jun 01, 2015 1:11 pm

Anyone have advise on queen castles? I run mediums only and have seen brushy mountain's castle. Is anyone using one of theirs? (especially the medium frame version). Is anyone else making them?

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Solomon
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Re: Queen Castles

Postby Solomon » Mon Jun 01, 2015 4:48 pm

I have constructed my own queen castles. I use three frame models, both mediums and deeps, 7 deeps, 3 mediums.

I made all mine. You can find the design on my website, here's the pic: Image

The slots in the ends are 1/4" wide and the dividers are made of 5mm luann plywood. Lids to fit as necessary, cut from 1x6. If you want deeps, just add 3" to the height. The bottom is just flat, I used my standard migratory lid design. I don't recall if I did mine correctly, but this should be sized to provide bee space above the frames. A little extra up there won't hurt. Smashing bees on the topbars is not fun.

If you can make them yourself, so much the better. If not, BM's should suffice. I have made one major modification, on one end, I have drilled a 1.5" hole and screened it on the inside. This draws robber bees (robbers follow scent while foragers know where the entrance is by location). My entrances are simple slots cut in the bottom edge with a table saw, and only big enough for about two bees to pass side by side. That way, the entrance is very easy to guard and the ventilation comes from the robber screen.

You will need to purchase (or build) telescoping covers to go along with them. I built some for mine as well. During most of the year, I use them on other hives with leaky or not weather proofed lids.

I have found queen castles to be absolutely invaluable in the pursuit of Expansion Model Beekeeping. A normal walk away split usually nets you two hives from one. With queen castles and careful management, a walk away split could net you seven hives from one. Better than that is when they are used as mating nucs and furnished with ripe queen cells. One hive can make 10-20 nucs depending on its strength.

The method I'm using this year is walkaway splits in queen castles, sometimes by splitting them 3x3 from the beginning, other times by placing 9 frames of brood in one, then dividing it after the queen cells are capped, making sure there is at least one queen cell in each nuc. Later on, I plan on making one 3 frame nuc from each hive on each visit. It's all nucs this year, I have to rebuild very rapidly due to scaling back to move and losses over winter. This is one of those times where I honestly don't know how many hives I have.
Solomon Parker, Treatment-Free 14 years, ~24 colony baseline
Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast - Parkerbees.com - Treatment-Free Beekeepers Facebook Group

Nate K
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Re: Queen Castles

Postby Nate K » Tue Jun 02, 2015 12:06 pm

What is your typical success rate with them? I have heard of low return rates.
I know Don the Fat BeeMan uses 5 frame nucs because of the better percentage that take.
What's good for the beekeeper, isn't always what's best for the bees.
http://Mylibertyhomestead.com

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Solomon
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Re: Queen Castles

Postby Solomon » Tue Jun 02, 2015 1:07 pm

I haven't heard of any low return rates, or at least nobody has reported them to me. I know of very few people who are using them, though I think people should. What return rates are you talking about? As walkaway splits or mating nucs? Who have you heard low return rates from?

With ripe queen cells, I have had return rates above 80% for successfully mating and laying queens. I haven't tried it as much with walkaway type splits, but that's what I'm doing now, so we'll see how it goes.
Solomon Parker, Treatment-Free 14 years, ~24 colony baseline
Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast - Parkerbees.com - Treatment-Free Beekeepers Facebook Group

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Greg H
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Re: Queen Castles

Postby Greg H » Mon Jul 06, 2015 6:36 pm

So what is the difference between using a queen castle and using separate nucs to raise your queens?

Chuck Jachens
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Re: Queen Castles

Postby Chuck Jachens » Mon Jul 06, 2015 7:07 pm

Two things come to mind: The nucs share walls therefore warmth, they have more energy to spend on building wax and growing brood. Second is conservation of equipment costs and space, easier to keep 4 queen castles than 12 separate nucs.

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Solomon
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Re: Queen Castles

Postby Solomon » Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:03 pm

Chuck laid it out pretty well. I can build a plywood nuc for ~$5. A well equipped queen castle probably costs three times that and is a bit more difficult if you don't have the wood working skills. So it's really your choice.

I like the queen castles because they're 3-frames, which you can build in nucs if you like.

The way mine are built are also really good against robbing, which could be also conscientiously done in other nucs, depending upon how you build them.

You can also unite two adjacent nucs by pulling the dividing board out.

Ultimately, if you have the equipment, use it. Queen Castles aren't a magical must-have, they're just a really good tool. There are other tools that also work, as well, better, or not as good. Try it and find out.
Solomon Parker, Treatment-Free 14 years, ~24 colony baseline
Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast - Parkerbees.com - Treatment-Free Beekeepers Facebook Group

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Michael Bush
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Re: Queen Castles

Postby Michael Bush » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:18 pm

I just bought some of Brushy Mt. deep castles that I will cut down to mediums. I really only want two frame and their medium is three frame... My old ones are rotting away...
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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Michael Bush
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Re: Queen Castles

Postby Michael Bush » Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:20 pm

Brushy Mt. has medium castles. I bought five of the deeps recently because my homemade ones are falling apart and I didn't have time to build some more plus I wanted to see what they did that might give me some ideas. I bough the deeps and cut them down because the mediums are three frame nucs and the deeps are two frame nucs and I want two frame nucs. They look pretty nice.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm


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