The queen excluder

We often hear about queen excluders when we talk about beekeeping. But what exactly does it consist of? How is it used and especially what are the advantages and disadvantages? For the uninitiated or beginners in beekeeping, they cannot say that they know exactly what it is. Here is some information.

The queen excluder itself

In beekeeping, a queen excluder is used to block access to the queen in certain areas of the hive and to prevent her from laying eggs. There are two types of queen excluders on the market: those made of plastic and those made of metal. The gaps in the queen excluder have been designed so that they are large enough for the workers to pass through but too narrow for the queen to make her way through. The queen excluder is placed on the hive just before the queen excluder is installed. Beekeepers' experience has shown that it is most advantageous for 12-frame hives. The 10-frame hives have more difficulty with the queen excluder because they have very fertile queens in their nest. On the market, one can find different types of queen excluders: rigid, flexible, moulded, perforated, wire, framed or not...

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Queen Grid

The queen excluder is therefore a tool to close the access of the fusegates to the queen. This allows the honey to be harvested without any risk for the queen. This helps not to disturb the harvest since the brood is confined in the body. The harvested honey is also brood-free, which means that it contains no spores or bacteria. Sometimes, the queen excluder is even mandatory for some professional beekeepers. The advantage of its use is to prevent the queen from laying eggs in the rise. Because without it, one systematically finds pollen or brood in the rise. In this case, the honey in the first brood chamber can no longer be harvested because the brood frame must be left with the honey. The latter will crystallize and will hinder the next harvest. And for sanitary reasons, the frames will have to be recycled at the end of the season.

If the queen excluder seems to present poignant advantages, it has however some points to be reviewed. It happens that the colonies refuse to store their honey by passing through the mesh. Disrupted, they will become too numerous in the body and will swarm to reduce the number of colonies. To remedy this, the queen excluder can be put down only when the bees have finished to colonize the rise. To do this, make sure that the queen is back in the body. It takes 25 days then before harvesting and allowing time for the workers to be born. It is important to know that the queen excluder can block the bees, but it also protects the spike from invasion by mice or field mice.