What to do with queenless Apideas

An annual quandry for beekeepers is – what to do with all those queenless Apideas at the end of the queen-rearing season.

Most advice is to set the Apidea over a nuc and unite the two but this often comes to one sort of sticky end or another and is less viable when you have a number of them.

Here’s a neat alternative:

The Quandry

At the tail-end of last year’s queen-rearing season I found myself with a bunch of sad, queenless and broodless Apideas and one queen-right Apidea with no home to go to.

It occurred to me that the solution was staring me in the face. This method is more or less the same we use to create Apideas and hinges on the ‘Third Box Principle’ of uniting bees.

Click here for Apidea Instructions.

Click here for more on the Third Box Principle.

Here’s what to do…
  • Find the queen and put her into a matchbox;
  • Gently shake all of the bees out of all of the Apideas into a plastic bucket spraying them lightly with water;
  • Find a nuc box, block the entrance with foam then add two frames of stores, a frame of pollen and leave a space in the middle;
  • Pour the bucket of bees into the space, give them another bit of a spray if they’re coming up at you;
  • Drop the queen in on top of them then carefully add two empty, drawn frames into the space;
  • If you are worried about your queen, cage her first and suspend the cage between the middle frames;
  • Close it up and take it away;
  • You can feed it but be careful – this is the robbing season.

As I say, that’s what I did last year. That nuc came steaming through the winter and is now into a full box. Of course I could have been just lucky but I’ll try it again and let you know how I get on.

An alternative is to overwinter a queenright Apidea and decant it into a nuc in the spring.

Click here for more on how to overwinter an Apidea

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