2.3.3. Storage of queens

Large queen breeding operations often have more queens than they can use or ship immediately. They may need to remove mated queens from mating nucs to make space for new emerging queen cells. Mated queens can be caged in regular cages without worker bees or candy and placed together with other similarly caged queens in a “queen bank” colony as described by Morse (1994). It is possible to store up to 60 cages in one frame and up to 120 queens within one colony for 1-2 months with few losses. While queen banking is very popular in the USA, European breeders avoid storing mated queens this way because the queens may become damaged by the workers who may injure the queens’ feet, legs, wings and antennae (Woyke, 1988).

Queens lose the ability to fly if the tip of one front wing is clipped (approx. 35-40 %). Wing clipping has no negative effects on the vitality or longevity of the queens and is therefore a common technique to delay, but not prevent, swarming of the colony. Beekeepers may clip alternate wings in alternate years to keep track of the age of queens.