Brood in Honey; No Queen Excluder — What Now?

Ask the Expert

Brood in Honey; No Queen Excluder — What Now?

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David D asks — How do beekeepers who don’t use queen excluders deal with honey frames that may have some brood mixed in when they go to extract?

Rusty Burlew replies:

Many people don’t like the idea of queen excluders until they get to this point. Brood in the honey supers is a difficult problem to solve, and the solutions are not ideal.

If you find a lot of brood, it’s probably best to leave it alone and not extract at all. This is the best choice if you want to keep the drawn comb undamaged or you want to keep the brood.

If you find some honey-only sections among the brood, and you’re not concerned about keeping the drawn comb, you can cut the honey sections out with a knife and use them for comb honey. When you give the frame back to the bees they will usually repair the damage.

If you have only small sections of brood in a frame, you can cut out those sections and discard them, then try to extract the rest. If you cut out too much, however, the comb may release from the frame while it’s spinning in the extractor.

Alternatively, you can cut everything out of the frame and put the brood sections in one pile and the honey sections in another pile. Once separated, you can discard the brood and crush and strain the honey with a fork and a strainer. This avoids the problem of having the comb release in the extractor, which can get messy, and it gives you extracted honey rather than comb honey.

The last alternative I can think of is to put an excluder on now and make sure the queen is below it. Then wait for all the brood to emerge and then extract the honey.

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