Queen Excluders: Let's Hear Your Thoughts!

In our local club meetings when someone asks about using queen excluders, you can almost hear the collective sigh in the room.

The conversation sometimes turns to whether queen excluders are "honey excluders" or not.

One idea is that because a queen excluder is just large enough for a worker bee to squeeze through they are sometimes reluctant to push through the excluder and deposit their nectar into the supers. Instead, the bees opt for the easier route and back-fill the brood boxes with nectar until the queen is almost honey-bound before going through the extra work of going up through the excluder and into the supers.

I've heard others say that bees "aren't that lazy" and will push through the excluder with ease and fill the supers without problem.

Of course one potential downside of not using an excluder at all is that the queen could potentially go up into the supers and lay brood.

I don't own any excluders myself, so I've never had experience with them. Not because I'm against them, it's more of an "I was too cheap to buy them and hadn't really decided if I wanted/needed them yet" type of thing.

In several cases I've placed supers on hives and the nectar flow came on so fast/strong they filled them before the queen had a chance to get into them and lay eggs.

In other cases, the queen did sneak up to them and lay brood in a few frames, and I've had to wait to extract until they hatched, and the bees filled and capped the cells with nectar.

Image Credit/Source

So I'm left with a feeling of it's kind of a personal choice, and results may vary.

I'm hoping for an interactive conversation on this topic, with lots of opinions and experience, so don't be shy!

Whether you use queen excluders or not, drop your thoughts/comments/feelings about queen excluders below and have fun!

Comments For This Post: (4) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
Mortimer Bondurant says...
Date:   June 8, 2012, 10:28 pm

I believe queen excluders are honey excluders.  Why put up a roadblock?  Remember in Blazing Saddles when the posse had to go through a toll booth in the middle of the desert just to get to Rockridge?  Who are we, Mongo?  Yeah, the queen may venture up there to populate a few cells, but if you just keep the supers on and wait a spell (like 21 days), those cells will be backfilled with honey, hey?


Holly says...
Date:   June 9, 2012, 6:46 pm

I have used queen excluders and find it very difficult to get the wax drawn out.  I have been told this is because the queen's pheremone isn't up there because she isn't walking on the frames.  Once I removed the excluder, wax was suddenly drawn.  I don't plan to use them again. 

PP says...
Date:   June 9, 2012, 7:32 pm

They have their uses but not for keeping the queen out of the honey supers really. I have a couple and have used them to lock a queen into a particular brood chamber for one reason or another over the years.

Mort is right if the queen does lay up in the honey supers she will go back down eventually anyway.

I would say that the excluders are the least used of all my equipment though.

Mark Martin says...
Date:   June 12, 2012, 1:58 pm

I bought a pair of excluders for my hives but I don't think I'll be using them.  The jury was still out for me until I watched a video by the "Fat Bee Man" on youtube about excluders.  His point was that by the bees squeezing themselves through the excluder they slowly damage their wings, thus cutting their lives short.  I haven't heard anyone else say that but it does make sense.  This conversation has now cemented my opinion that I won't be using them!

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