Banking Virgin Queens

When raising queens with the grafting method, I have batches of about 20-30 queen cells ready to hatch once a week. With grafting, its best for me to either raise queen cells on a weekly basis until I want to stop, or don’t bother. Once I’m set up and going, its time consuming to stop and start again.

If you don’t bank virgin queens, queen cells must be placed in mating nucs after incubation on day 10 after grafting. That means, you have 1-2 days before ‘day 10’ to split hives for mating nucs and if the weather is rainy or there is an emergency at work, too bad it must be done. Unless, you instead cage the cells so they emerge caged in a queen bank. They can remain banked for up to one week and placed in mating nucs at your ‘leisure’ 🙂 . Dr. Larry Connor recommended this in his course, and I think he is right.

Queens that have emerged in a queen bank. The 'candy cap' for the hair roller cages can be used to hold capped queen cells instead of candy. Do place some queen cage candy at the bottom of these cages so the queen has her own source of food. For a queen bank I use the cloak board method which will be described in another post.

Once virgin queens are banked, they need to be introduced into mating nucs within about one week. Otherwise, they will be too old to be mated properly. I graft cells on the same day each week. This means I can have fresh, banked virgins ready to go any day throughout the season when I have the time (and weather opportunity) to split some hives or when I find a queenless hive that needs a queen. Virgin queens should be introduced into mating nucs caged, just like a mated queen.