Banking is a technique for caring for queens prior to introducing
them into new hives. The queens arrive via mail
or perhaps from a fellow beekeeper who recently did a cross
country tour and came home with a truck load of queens and package
bees. Generally the queens arrive in a matchbook sized
wooden box with a screen on one side. The box has a candy
plug on one side. When the queen is introduced into a
new hive the bees have a chance to get used to the new queen's
pheromone while they take a day or so to eat the candy and thereby
release the queen into the hive. But requeening a hive
is another story.
a technique for creating a queen bank.
The first requirement
is to find 3 frames with brood, eggs, larve and lots of nurse
bees. Be sure to take these from strong, healthy hives
only. Once a qualifying frame has been found, a light
shake will remove most of the field bees. The nurse bees
will cling on tightly. But the situation begs the question:
"Can I be sure that this frame does not include the old
queen?" Well, set this frame aside and follow the same
procedure until you have three frames of brood and nurse bees.
Now, take the 3 frames with brood and eggs, shake all bees on
to a bottom board, cover with queen excluder and empty deep
super. Place the 3 beeless frames in the empty super and cover.
In about 5 minutes virtually all the bees will have worked their
way up into the super. If the old queen was on any of the 3
frames she should now be under the queen excluder. If
you spot the old queen under the excluder, place her carefully
back in her hive. Now place the 3 frames of brood in an
empty nuc and brush or shake any remaining bees above the excluder
into the nuc. A nuc is basically a deep super, but only
half as wide so that only 5 frames can be accomodated.
Be sure to do this on the warmest possible day so as not to
chill the brood.
The next step is to find a nearly full frame of honey, and preferrably
with some nice ribbons of pollen. Set this frame near one of
the inside walls of the nuc. If the honey is completely
sealed, scratch open a small section and face this side toward
the center of the nuc. Place a frame of brood next to
the honey frame and then slide the other two frames of brood
to the other side of the nuc, so that an empty space is available
near the center of the nuc. This is where the special
frame containing the queen cages is placed. The queen cages
are placed in the bottom of holding frame, with the screen side
up. Place this frame in nuc. Lightly spray the nurse bees with
fresh vanilla water (one tablespoon of vanilla flavoring in
a pint of water) so that the queen pheromones are muted. If
there is not ample quantities of pollen in the honey comb it
can be helpful to sprinkle a little pollen (store bought is
OK) on the top bars of the frames near the inner walls of the
nuc. Don't over do it because the pollen can end
up in the queen cages, thereby crowding the queen and her attendants.
That's all there is to it. The queens should be
OK in the queen bank for several days and even up to a couple
of weeks. Of course you want to get them installed in
their permanent homes as soon as possible so as not to lose
valuable honey production time.