Notching Frames for Queens
One of the critical skills for any beekeeper who wants to be sustainable is raising his or her own queen bees. There are a variety of ways to raise queens, and one of the easiest ways is to "notch" a frame of eggs to encourage the bees to raise the queen cells. Then it's a matter of being patient until the queen bees hatch.
The critical part of encouraging worker bees to raise queen cells is finding the correct aged egg, preferably still an egg in the royal jelly where the mother queen has laid. That means seeing a very tiny white egg in a white substance in a tiny wax cell that is less than 36 hours old.
Once an egg is located, the wax cell under the egg is cut away to encourage bees to raise a queen cell.
This technique also works when one is splitting a colony and leaving some bees without a queen at first. My beekeeping buddies David and Tom did that with a new colony a couple of weeks ago.
We went back to see how well David had notched the frame to encourage queen cell building. Here are the bees in their new hive box.
Using a black foundation for a brood frame helps in being able to see the eggs laid in royal jelly.
The verdict? There were 14 capped queen cells and 4 open queen cells occupied and still being fed.
So does notching work?
You bet, especially if you can see the eggs!