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The Queen Excluder

If used properly a queen excluder can be quite helpful. When you harvest honey there wouldn’t be a need to check each frame for brood first. Just get the bees out of the supers, which is the hard part, and then take the supers. Since the queen and brood are supposed to be in the brood chamber, you could harvest honey almost worry free. However, there are some people who would call it a honey excluder because, if used improperly, the worker bees will not pass through it. Still many people use them and have great success because, like most other tools, you don’t have to use them if they don’t work for you.

I have read a few books that list queen excluders as a part of the hive and I become mildly frustrated every time I see that because it is misleading. The queen excluder is simply a beekeepers tool. It prevents the queen from moving upward beyond the box that the excluder was placed above. They are usually a plastic or metal piece, sometimes in a wooden frame, that is made of a grid-like mesh. The holes are large enough for worker bees to pass through and small enough to exclude the queen. This tool is used to prevent the queen from laying brood in the honey supers.

To use a queen excluder remember that it’s purpose is to bar Ms. Queen from the above supers, making it necessary only during a honey flow. When using an excluder make sure to leave plenty of brood space for your bees to maintain a large enough population to produce surplus honey. Also, remember to have drawn comb to place above it or let the bees draw the foundation out before you put an excluder on. Bees are reluctant to draw out foundation that is above a queen excluder. After you install an excluder it might take the bees a little bit of time to adjust to passing through it, which may slow down their progress a little. Once they have adjusted, though, it should work well.

A Quick Home Made Queen Excluder / Includer


If you were to ask very many beekeepers about queen excluders you would find that opinions vary widely. Since books are occasionally misleading, new beekeepers end up weakening their hives or missing a honey flow because they made a mistake trying to use one. Bees will sometimes tear their wings when passing through the more cheaply made excluders, some queens are small enough to fit through the holes, or it could break and render itself useless. Really, it all boils down to personal opinion and what works best for you. You can choose not to use them and manage your hives in such a way to have a queen content, or busy, in her given space and have no need of a queen excluder. Every once in a while, though, there will be one girl who is determined to lay in every box. An excluder might be an appropriate remedy for her, unless you wish to re-queen. I know people who have successfully kept bees for years without ever using one and I know people who can’t imagine trying to manage a honey flow without one. So now that you know what a queen excluder is and how to use it, you can determine whether or not they are a tool that’s right for you.

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