Queen Rearing Class

Back to Educational Information

Queen rearing is an essential part of beekeeping.

In July of 2007 and 2009 the SRVBA hosted a Queen Rearing Class for the Ohio State Beekeepers Association.  The class was conducted by Bob Hooker and Dana Stahlmann (who supplied the breeder stock) from OSBA. The class used the Doolittle Grafting method.  The following pictures and captions tell you a little of the queen rearing process.  The queen rearing hive was supplied by Clarence Diehl and the facility was provided by GzBz Honey Farm.  The pictures shown below were supplied by Bob Hooker, OSBA.

The Ohio Queen Rearing Project is a long term effort to develop an Ohio Stock Improvement Program. All of us depend upon good queens to populate our hives with worker bees that are healthy and productive. 

The first step of the process of raising your own queens is to set up a cell builder hive or starter hive..  This is done by removing the queen and all swarm cells from a strong hive.  The picture below  shows SRVBA members prepping the hive so that bars of queen cups can be introduced in a day or two.

After the starter hive has been queenless for 2 days,  one to three day old larva can be transferred to a queen cups from a brood frame.  This brood frame was supplied by Dana Stahlmann through OSBA.  Class members are shown transferring larva to the queen cups. Grafting is a precise exercise in skill.  It takes practice to pick up the larva from a cell and place it in a queen cup.  The queen cup can have a little royal jelly in it or a drop of coconut milk.  In a couple of days one can see if the cells were accepted by the worker bees.

The modified  frame holding the queen cups is inserted into the hive where the bees will hopefully draw queen cells onto each of the queen cups that the larva have been inserted.


In 3-4 days the frame can be checked to see how many queen cells have been made.  This number of nuc's need to be prepared to accept the new queens.  On the 11th day after placing the frame in the starter hive queens will start to emerge.  The cups need to be moved to the nuc's before the first queen emerges, otherwise the first queen will kill the other queen cells.  Below are two of the queen cells that were developed and moved to nuc's.


The queens should start to emerge from the cells on the 12th day.  The worker bees in the nuc will accept her right away.  She will need to take her mating flights and by the 21st day after graphing the queen should start to lay eggs.  Here is a picture of the nuc that one queen started to call home.

This information and set of pictures gives you a general idea as to one method that can be used to raise queens.  There are several other methods such as the Miller Method and the Jenter System.  If you would like more information connect to www.osba.us , click on site navigation and go to OSBA Queen Rearing Project.  On that page you will find contact information for each of the regional coordinators and you can print out a "OSBA Queen Project" manual that will give you the complete information on queen rearing.  Good luck if you decide to raise your own queens.  If you need assistance feel free to contact SRVBA at Webmaster or anyone listed on the OSBA web site.