cores in the apiary

Layers, cores and spare queens for breeding an amateur apiary

To increase the number of bee colonies in the apiary, the method of artificial reproduction is often used. It allows you to avoid disruptions in the planned work, typical for swarming. After all, natural reproduction is spontaneous to a certain extent. The departure of swarms significantly reduces the honey harvest, since it coincides with the period of increasing families to the main bribe.

The content of the article

  • 1 Benefits and types of artificial reproduction
  • 2 Spare uterus
    • 2.1 Replacement of the uterus without reducing honey flow
  • 3 Use of swarms of queen cells
  • 4 Spring Layers – The Classic Approach
    • 4.1 Removal of queens

Benefits and types of artificial reproduction

Artificial increase in the number of bee colonies is always a planned event for which beekeepers prepare in advance. Queens are removed from the nests of the best in terms of productivity, and then layering is formed, taking into account the strength of specific bee colonies and the time remaining until the main honey harvest in the year.

A properly formed family manages to gain strength – the income from such a hive, received from the sale of honey, will pleasantly please the owners.

Artificial propagation or swarming is carried out in several ways. Here are the most common ones:

  1. Layers are formed from one donor family or several that are suitable for the parameters of the nests – they are called prefabricated.
  2. Strong colonies are split in half. Among beekeepers, this division is called in half a year.
  3. A raid is formed on the brood brood or on the queen placed in a new hive.

The first method is more often used, as the simplest and most understandable for beginners.… Donor hives are selected in which healthy and strong families live. From them, feed and brood frames with a part of the worker bees are selected. As noted above, a new nest can be assembled using one donor or several families.

The second method allows you to form two bee families of the same strength… Insects of different ages are taken from the original hive and evenly distributed between the two nests. Bee houses are installed at an equal distance from the previous habitat of the donor family. They are rearranged in an equal number of brood and feed frames, dividing the insects equally. Scattering (flight) bees return home in the evening, also evenly dividing between the two hives.

The third method helps to build up the strength of a new bee colony due to flying insects from the donor hive.… To do this, they take a new bee house, transfer into it a frame with a working old queen, as well as two frames with a sealed brood, three with artificial waxes and four with dry and honey stocks. The hive is installed instead of the donor, and the original colony is transferred to another place and a young uterus is given to it.

The formation of layering to increase the apiary will be especially effective if fetal breeding queens are used for planting in new nests.

They are purchased from southern beekeeping farms that are professionally engaged in mother breeding. Here, fertile females are obtained at an earlier date, when in the northern regions the hatching and mating of bee “queens” is not yet possible due to weather conditions.

Spare uterus

Mother breeding, layering, cores in an amateur apiary are inextricably linked techniques that make it possible to successfully breed an apiary in the spring.

cores in the apiary

Spare queens are kept in cores – small families, formed in advance, even during the summer honey collection. By next spring, they can be used to replace low-quality “queens” or fix queenless nests.

To breed fertile females, the hive is divided into several compartments containing up to four frames. Each of the compartments has its own tap hole. It is possible to set the core behind a partition in the immediate vicinity of the main nest.

nucleus hive

If the hive contains several cores, the entrances must be directed in different directions in order to facilitate orientation in space for flying bees and to avoid confusion between the nests!

Nuclei are isolated from infertile queens, if there are any on the farm, or mature queen cells are installed – special wax cells arranged by bees to breed new “queens”.

The queen cells are divided into:

swarming queen cells

1.On swarms, acorn-shaped and located on the sides of the combs… Insects rebuild them when a swarm mood occurs.

fistulous uterus

2.And on the fistulous, built directly on the combs sown or occupied by young larvae… Such wax constructions occur when the uterus is suddenly lost. It looks like the expansion of one cell at the expense of several neighboring ones. With a quiet change of the “queen”, the family rebuilds 1-3 pieces of fistulous queen cells.

It is better to change queens in the apiary in the second half of spring – this is what authoritative textbooks and manuals say. This event is held as follows:

  • the old “queen” is removed from the problem hive;
  • as soon as the bees feel their orphanhood, a fertilized queen from the nucleus, which has already begun oviposition, is implanted to them.

But here it should be noted that this is one of the most controversial points in beekeeping. Although the above method is actively promoted in all textbooks, it is almost never used by experienced beekeepers. After all, the uterus, caught in other people’s families, will certainly reduce egg production. And this negatively affects the honey collection.

Therefore, based on practical experience, for successful breeding of an apiary, it is better to choose other calendar dates for replacing unproductive (old) queens.

From mid-June to July 20, stable warm weather sets in in all regions. At this time, you can successfully replace the bee “queens” that have reached the age of two. At the beginning of summer, bee colonies are at their peak. The nests contain from 8 to 10 brood frames.


The end of flowering of yellow acacia serves as a reference point for the beginning of the change of queens. Moreover, each bee colony must breed itself a new “queen”.

Replacement of the uterus without reducing honey flow

mature mother

To ensure the preservation of the gene pool, a backup cut is made:

  1. Extra honey is taken from the main nest, leaving no more than 20 kg.
  2. A new nest is formed by taking one stern frame with bee bread, honey and adult insects sitting on it. Two brood frames are installed nearby, also covered by bees. Then they put one dry, three waxes and another frame with dry into the hive. Two frames on which insects sit are also shaken off from the original bee house. The result is a new family for 6-8 cells.
  3. Then they find the old “queen” and put it into the layer strictly between the brood frames.
  4. They close the opening slots and keep insects in custody. The next day, the entrance is opened by about 1 cm around 12-14 noon. An active flight of young animals begins, and after a few days, young insects begin to work.
  5. After the formation of a new family, it is treated with oxalic acid. After ten days, the prophylaxis of varroatosis is repeated. After the second treatment, the bees are left alone for a month – no examinations are carried out.
  6. In the original family, queen cells are laid by insects 24-42 hours after the onset of orphanhood. On the fourth day, the beekeeper removes all such structures with the exception of one located in the center in the upper part of the honeycomb. It should contain a small larva and a lot of royal jelly.
  7. Three days later, a second examination is performed, in which the state of the abandoned mother liquor is found out. All new queen cells are also eliminated to prevent swarming.
  8. Three weeks after the selection of the old uterus in the layering, the original colony is treated with a 2% solution of oxalic acid. Re-prophylaxis of varroatosis is performed ten days later. At this time, there are no larvae in the hive – all the mites move to adult insects and quickly die during processing.
  9. Ten days after treatment, the young uterus begins to worm. Lay quality and brood quantity should be assessed.

How to deal with varroatosis can be found here: What you need to know about treating bees for varroatosis

By making summer layering in this way, you can get a high-quality young family. And in the old hive for a month that has passed without worming, more honey will accumulate than in the nests that lived with queens.

At the request of the beekeeper, you can return the layers to the old family. The technique of returning the bees is quite simple. The old uterus is removed from the cut, and after six hours all frames are returned to the original hive. If the layering is in a pocket (on the side of the main nest), remove the partition and put dry instead of it. In multi-body structures, the former layering is placed below the honeycomb, where the hatched young uterus is located.

If late flow is expected, this usually occurs in the steppe zone; you can take your time with the return of the cut. The unification is carried out directly at the beginning of the late honey collection – then the family gives the best results for the bribe.

Use of swarms of queen cells

It is possible to evoke the swarm instinct artificially by shortening the nest, insulating the hive and pushing the entrance slot. The frames approach each other at a distance of 8-9 mm. To induce, 200 ml of 50% syrup are given daily.

The first swarm comes out with an old fetal uterus. It is collected by removing the “queen”. After that, the insects are returned to the original hive, and the female selected with the help of a separating lattice is used for layering. It is formed from three printed brood frames and three feed frames taken from the mother’s nest.

The second swarm will be stronger than the first. It sometimes contains up to 5 kilograms of insects. From this amount, you can form several new nests, with a force of 1-1,5 kilograms.

A swarm family is formed of two or three brood combs, planted with bees, and three feeding frames. The presence of at least one ready-made queen cell in each new family is a prerequisite! Swarming colonies willingly stay in the house where the beekeeper will plant them. They independently remove the uterus, destroying excess queen cells.

Spring Layers – The Classic Approach


To breed an apiary, the method of forming spring layers is also used. This is a beekeeping classic found in most textbooks.

The whole process looks like this:

  1. They take from the donor family: three printed brood frames together with adult insects covering them, two or three forage combs and bees, which were additionally shaken off from two donor frames.
  2. A cage with a new queen or a mature queen is placed between the brood. Letkovye slits are closed for a day. After 24 hours, the uterus is released.
  3. With the onset of oviposition, the layers are reinforced with two or three honeycombs with mature brood, but without bees.
  4. Instead of the selected frames, dry is placed in the original hive. Here the “queen” lays eggs and quickly recovers the strength of the donor family.
  5. After two weeks, the entire procedure can be repeated. Exactly according to the same principle, the third layer is made.

In such a simple way, from one strong hive by the fall, three new families are obtained. If the young nests have time to increase by the beginning of the main honey harvest, they successfully harvest fodder for the winter and even bring an excess of marketable honey.

Spring cuttings are formed from mid-May to early June. Much will depend on the region and weather conditions. The warmer it is outside, the more favorable the conditions for the growth and development of families.

Removal of queens

uterine development

From the second half of May, you can start hatching the first queen bees, which will later be used in layering. In young families, planted females begin to lay eggs after 12-15 days. Sometimes a mature brood is inserted into the brood along with the brood to hatch the “queen”.

In the original colony, hatching of queens can be started by selecting the old “queen”. After that, one or two combs with young larvae are pruned – cells no older than one day old are left below. In them, the larvae are destroyed after one. On the remaining cells, bees build fistulous queen cells, printing them on the fifth day.

On the tenth day, mature queen cells are removed from the donor family and installed in the layers.

In this way, up to 15-20 young queens can be obtained from one strong nest in two doses with an interval of five days.

Layers in an apiary are the fastest and most effective way to increase the farm without additional investments for purchasing packet bees. It is available to most novice beekeepers.

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Anna Evans

Author ✓ Farmer

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