Jenter queen cells

How to use your Jenter Kit

Once you have your Jenter Kit set up you are ready to put it into action. Click here if you need the Jenter Kit Set Up instructions

Click here for a timetable to use your Jenter kit with a Cloake board system

Which Queen to breed from

For this to work well you need to choose your queen with care.

She should be young and she should be laying full tilt. If the weather has been poor, there is a good chance she won’t be and you should feed for a week beforehand.

Ideally you will have chosen your queen mother using Colony Assessment and Appraisal records from the previous year. If you don’t have records – how do you know what you are breeding?

Some bees are angelic in the early spring – butter wouldn’t melt – but come summer when they are at full strength it’s a different story altogether.

Other things to be aware of

Remember, the Jenter kit sticks out a bit. If you are using castellations in your brood box you may find that the face of the Queen cage is pressed too close to the adjoining frame for the bees to access the queen. This can be overcome by cutting a square out of an old frame – this allows the bees to access the queen. You can leave this frame in after you have removed your Jenter frame and the bees quite quickly refurbish the frame, filling the space with drone comb.

Try to site the Jenter frame near the centre of the brood nest where there are plenty of nurse bees.

If you are using plain runners, remove a frame and space them appropriately.


Timing is not as easy as it seems. Consider these points:

  • As we know the best age larvae are between 12 and 36 hours old – that’s 84-108 hours including the 3 days as an egg depending on who you talk to.
  • If you put your queen into the cage on say… Tuesday and remove her at the same time Wednesday – how old are those eggs ?
  • You don’t know do you – they could be one hour old and they could be 12 or 24.
  • You could start guessing the angle they are leaning over at but that’s all very subjective.
  • Or you could put her in for just 12 hours then you could be more sure but the chances are – you’ll find only half the frame laid up. Or not at all.
  • It’s a safe bet that the queen doesn’t get straight down and lay into the frame. Instead she will trundle about a bit and the workers will do the same. Then the workers will have to hoover out the cells before the queen can lay into them.
  • Better then to assume that after 24 hours with the queen in the cage – the eggs will be mostly around 12 hours old.
Here’s what I do…

…I put the queen into the cage at about 19.00hrs – come hell or high water and I take her out next day at the same time – come hell or high water.  I make the aforementioned assumption that the queen gets laying after about 12 hours. You can cogitate if you like, about whether I’m right or wrong but the fact is that the following works for me:

  • Call the day the queen comes OUT of the frame ‘day zero’ For me, day zero is usually a Wednesday and at 19.00hrs and assume these eggs are about 12 hours old;
  • Thursday 19.00hrs – day 1 (36 hours);
  • Friday 19.00 – day 2 (60 hours);
  • Saturday 19.00 – day 3 (84 hours)
  • Sunday MORNING at about 7.00am they will be 96 hours old;
  • At about 9.00 Sunday morning I take the frame out;
  • The larvae will average about 98 hours old in total – that’s the 72 hours as eggs plus an average of 16 hours as larvae.

Even if she laid her first egg immediately you shut her into the box  – that egging event was only 110 hours ago and the larva that breaks from that first egg can only be 36 hours at the most. In my experience they are seldom that old.

There are over 100 plugs in a Jenter kit and you will find a range of sizes/ages of larvae there.

None of them will be too old and none of them will be eggs – so take your pick and transfer them to the bar frame then put the bar frame into your rearer colony.

Acclimatise the Jenter Frame

Spray the Jenter frame with syrup and leave it in the hive for about 24 hours so the bees can clean it and it will start to smell beeish.

Call this Day -2

Put the Queen in the Jenter Box

The face of the Jenter box has a circular opening with a removable door. Remove the door, put the queen into the box and replace the little door.

Put the frame back into the hive and close it up.

Take note of the time and the date.

Call this Day -1

Take the Queen out of the Jenter box

24 hours later, check that the queen has laid up the box. If she has, remove the front plate and release her then replace the front plate.

This is Day 0

Put the Jenter frame back into the hive for another 4 days.

If she hasn’t laid sufficent eggs, you could leave her in for another 24 hours. If she still won’t lay into it – consider grafting instead.

Plug Day

Plug day is Day 4.

On Day 4, remove the Jenter frame from the hive. The frame should now contain an assortment of larvae for you to choose from.

Slot your plugs into the plug holders which you will have set into a bar frame and acclimatised in your cell raiser. Then put the bar frame into your cell raiser for the bees to raise queen cells. Transfer to Apideas or nucs when ripe.


Note from a hot summer

Here’s something to be aware of – in a very hot summer such as last year (2018), metamorphosis can speed up and queens will emerge much earlier than expected so be aware of that possibility and don’t be ambushed like wot I was – with virgins running around all over the place. It was ridiculous.

Click here for a timetable to use the Cloake board system with a Jenter kit

Click here for Queen rearing using the Cloake Board method

Click here for How to Improve Your Bees

Click here for How to set up your Jenter Kit

Click here for How to Graft

Click here for How to set up an Apidea

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2 thoughts on “How to use your Jenter Kit”

  1. Hi I’ve been having trouble with my eggs disaparing in the gents kit anywhere from day 1 to day 3 after she has played. I’ve raised queens with it for a while with no problems and now I’ve had 8 failed attempts on 2 separate kits. Any ideas about why this is happening or what I can try to get success again

    1. I have had this problem in the past. Make sure you put the frame into a sector of the broodnest where there are plenty of eggs and young brood. I think if the Jenter frame is surrounded by capped brood, the bees decide the eggs are in the wrong place and eat them. Hope this helps.

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