Queen Rearing

The Hopkins Method of Queen Rearing

Last Part of Chapter XII page 108 of the Australasian Bee Manual Fifth Edition 1911 by Isaac Hopkins. The section titled "Another Method of Raising Cells."


Transcriber's preface.

This is the last section of the Queen Rearing chapter. The first part is similar to the Chapter from his 1886 edition.

This is the Hopkins method in his own words.

I will try to get the pictures as I get time.

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The Australasian Bee Manual

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This chapter as well as the 1886 version is also published with other classic queen rearing books in the "Classic Queen Rearing Compendium"


The Hopkins Method of Queen Rearing

Chapter XII page 108 of the Australasian Bee Manual Fifth Edition 1911 by Isaac Hopkins.


Another Method of Raising Cells.

The method I am about to describe was, I believe, first tried and described by an Austrian Bee-keeper, but so far as I am aware, I was the first to give it a trial in this part of the world. At the Government Apiary, and with excellent results as Fig. 66 indicates.

A new bright (wired) comb of the previous season's construction was put into the hive of one of our breeding queens; when fairly full of eggs and newly hatched larvae it was removed and laid flat on a bench. A thin-bladed knife was run along each side of every fourth row of cells, cutting down to the mid-rib only. The three intermediate rows of cells were scooped out with the blade of a broad bradawl, as shown in fig 65, an easy matter, leaving every fourth row intact. Two out of every three eggs or larvae in the standing rows, were killed, as in the Alley plan, and also all eggs and larvae between the rows. This is important. The cells on the opposite side of the comb were not touched.

A strong two-story colony was in the meantime prepared for cell building in the manner already described, an empty half-story was placed immediately over the brood chamber, an empty frame being laid flat on the brood frames and the prepared comb (prepared side downwards) laid flat on the empty frame. The latter was covered with a light mat, and the upper story replaced.

In due course we obtained sixty good cells in our first experiment, and over eighty as shown in fig. 66 in our second trial. The above illustrations were made from photos taken by myself, the cells being fore-shortened in the view look smaller than they really were. As soon as the cells are well started a queen excluder may be put on and the queen returned in the manner previously described.


The comb lying flat over the brood chamber is subject to considerable heat, and we found in one case part of the comb had sagged down owing to the softening of the comb, and weight of the bees. We then would wire around the frames between the standing rows of cells, which checked the sagging. Either wire or thin splints of wood will do. We obtained some very fine queens by this method, and as a wholesale way of raising cells, I consider it immensely superior to raising them on the swarm box plan with a small force of bees from artificial cell cups and transferred larvae. Plenty of ventilation should be provided when raising queen cells in this manner.

From Frank C. Pellett's 1929 book, "Practical Queen Rearing"


Many extensive honey producers who desire to make short work of requeening an entire apiary, and who do not care to bother with mating boxes or other extra paraphernalia, make use of the Case method, which has been somewhat modified from its original form. This method is advocated by such well known beekeepers as Oscar Dines of New York and Henry Brenner of Texas. The plan was first used in Europe.

To begin with, a strong colony is made queenless to serve as a cell building colony. Then a frame of brood is removed from the center of the brood nest of the colony containing the breeding queen from whose progeny it is desired to rear the queens. In its place is given a tender new comb not previously used for brood rearing. At the end of four days this should be well filled with eggs and just hatching larvae. If the queen does not make use of this new comb at once, it should not be removed until four days from the time when she begins to lay in its cells. At that time nearly all the cells should be filled with eggs and some newly hatched larvae.

This new comb freshly filled is ideal for cell building purposes. The best side of the comb is used for the queen cells and is prepared by destroying two rows of worker cells and leaving one, beginning at the top of the frame. This is continued clear across the comb. We will now have rows of cells running lengthwise of the comb, but if used without further preparation the queen cells will be built in bunches that will be impossible to separate without injury to many of them. Accordingly, we begin at one end, and destroy two cells and leave one in each row, cutting them down to the midrib, but being careful not to cut through and spoil the opposite side. Some practice destroying three or four rows of cells, and leaving one to give more room between the finished queen cells.

We now have a series of individual worker cells over the entire surface of the comb, with a half inch or more of space between them. The practice varies somewhat with different beekeepers beyond this point. However, this prepared surface is laid flatwise with cells facing down, over the brood nest of the queenless colony, first taking care to make sure that any queen cells they may have started are destroyed. In general, it is recommended that the colony be queenless about seven days before giving this comb. By this time there will be no larvae left in the hive young enough for rearing queens, and the bees will be very anxious to restore normal conditions. Some beekeepers simply take away all unsealed brood, rather than leave the bees queenless so long.

As generally used, this method requires a special box or frame to hold the prepared comb. This is closed on one side to prevent the escape of heat upward and to hold the comb securely in place. Some kind of support is necessary to hold the comb far enough above the frames to leave plenty of room for drawing large queen cells. It is also advisable to cover the comb with a cloth which can be tucked snugly around it, to hold the heat of the cluster. By using an empty comb-honey super above the cluster, there is room enough for the prepared comb and also for plenty of cloth to make all snug and warm.

Strong colonies only should be used for this, as for any other method of queen rearing. If all conditions are favorable, the beekeeper will secure a maximum number of cells. From 75 to 100 fine cells are not unusual. By killing the old queens a day or two before the ripe cells are given, it is possible to requeen a whole apiary by this method with a minimum of labor. According to Miss Emma Wilson, it is possible to get very good results by this method, without mutilating the comb, although it is probable that a smaller number of queen cells will be secured. By laying the comb on its side as practiced in this connection, the cells can be removed with a very slight effort and with a minimum of danger.

From "The honey bee" by Wright, Wheeler Dennison, Page 1515

Delivered at the New York State Beekeepers' Association, Syracuse, N. Y., January, 1912.


by H. L. Case, Canandaigua, N. Y.

Take an empty brood comb that has had brood in it once or twice and place it in the center of the colony containing the queen from which you desire to breed. If this is at the time of year when the queens are laying to their full capacity take the card out and examine it on the fifth day after placing it. Should the larvae and eggs extend two-thirds across the card it is ready for use; if they do not, replace it in the colony and it will be ready the next day. When taking out the card for preparation be sure that you keep it warm and do not allow it to become chilled. If the day is warm it will not chill, but do not leave it exposed to the hot rays of the sun. Should it be a cool or cold day, use artificial heat and take it into a warm room for preparation.

Lay the card down on a table, and beginning at the lower edge of the brood patch, mark the comb with a sharp knife length-wise of the frame in rows containing a row of one cell and a row of two cells alternately, cutting to the midrib. With a sharp chisel shave off the cells from the two-cell rows down to the midrib ; then you have the one-cell rows left.

Be sure to destroy all the eggs and larvae where you have shaved off the comb, a match is good for this purpose. Then commence at the end of the row of cells left standing and leave the first egg or larva and destroy the next two, leave the next and destroy the next two and so all over the card.

Next, take an empty super and drive three 8d nails on the inside of the super one in each end and one on each side about two and a half inches from the bottom. These are to lay your prepared rack on with the prepared cells pointing down. The cells are to be raised only on the prepared side of this card, the eggs and larvae on the other side of the card are not to be disturbed. Lay the card on the nails driven inside of the super and cover up the top of the rack as it lays in the super with a good warm blanket, letting the blanket come right down tight to the comb .

Your card is now ready for the bees to perfect the cells. Next select a strong colony full of brood and young bees and remove the queen and all the brood, placing the brood and queen into another hive. Fill the hive with empty combs or sheets of foundation or starters. Be sure if there is no honey coming in, that a card of honey is given them, also that they are fed honey or syrup liberally three or four times while they are building the cells.

If you have a place to use this brood and queen shake the bees off of it ; if you wish to make an extra colony of it or return the brood and queen to the colony after they have perfected the cells, you must leave enough of the adhering bees to take care of the brood.

Now place your super with this prepared card on the broodless and queenless colony the same as you would for surplus honey. The cells will be ready to use the eleventh and not later than the twelfth day after putting the super on. When you go to take the cells out to use remove the quilt, raise one end of the rack carefully, blow in a little smoke under it and you will find the space in the hive between the rack and the top of the frames full of bees. Blow a little smoke on them to drive them back off the rack into the hive. Then you can remove the rack, and with a bee brush, brush most of the adhering bees off, being careful not to hit the cells with the brush. Keep the rack right side up as much as possible with the cells pointing down, and carry to some suitable place to cut out the cells.

The cells in the center where the larvae were located will be in advance of those on the outside. The ripe cells may be distinguished by the bees having gnawed the ends of the cells. Should there be enough of these for a day's use, remove them carefully by cutting clear through the comb and return the card to the cell building colony again.

Now the cells can be used by putting them into nuclei or they can be used for requeening new colonies where the old queen has been removed the day before. Use a cell protector in either instance leaving this comb as the base of the cell. Always handle the cell by this base, being careful never to touch the end of the cell.

In two days the cells which were returned to the colony will be ready for use. If there are any small or inferior cells, which is apt to be the case where they raise a large number, they can be destroyed.

Now if you have not disposed of the brood and queen, which you took away from the cell building colony, it can be put back or united as it originally was, only the queen will have to be introduced the same as a strange queen. If you have disposed of the brood and queen in other ways, they must have a card or two of brood and another queen.

If you want to raise another batch of cells raise them on another colony; never use the same one twice. The queen will lay in a clean comb sooner than she will in a dirty one. If you raise the cells during the honey harvest, the queen will lay faster than she would if you raised these when she was not laying to her full capacity. You must use your judgment in regard to these matters.

One of the great advantages of this plan, over other plans, is that the nurse bees can spend all their energy on these cells, having to care for no other brood. Another is that you are sure of perfect queens because they have no larvae too old to raise queens from. If you want to raise but a few cells do not leave the card so long in the breeding colony.

There has been over a hundred cells raised on a single card at one time. If you want to raise good, prolific queens you must observe these cautions strictly.

See Also: https://beesource.com/point-of-view/jerry-hayes/the-hopkins-method-of-queen-rearing/


Queen Rearing

The original book is in the public domiain. This arrangement of the book Copyright 2004 by Michael Bush

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