Ben Harden Method
cell bar frame
Hive set up

Ben Harden has described this method in a number of publications see for example where full details are given.
He says, to quote, 'the major advantage of his method is that it is a mere incidental manipulation of the colony chosen to start and finish the queen cells - any production colony is suitable for this purpose:
1. There is no need to create a body of queenless bees which is inherently unstable.
2. The cell raising colony is as free to forage as it was before and it's potential honey yield is not significantly affected.
3. If using say the Jenter kit to obtain the royal larvae and things go awry, there is no unnecessary disruption to what was to have been the cell raising colony.
4. The same colony can be used to provide the larvae and then rear them onwards into queen cells.'

The Harden brood box in which the queen cells are to be raised consists of two large dummies(1) which fill either side of the box and so sandwich four frames: two pollen frames(2) on the outside of the cell bar frame(3) and a frame which contains young open brood(4). The brood or pollen frames can be taken from the colony below or any other.

If the brood is taken from the colony below, to ensure that the queen remains below the excluder merely brush the frame free of bees on removal. Nurse bees will quickly come up through the excluder to tend the brood.

With black bees it is necessary to "familiarise" the bees with the components before use. So 24 hours (day 3) before the expected introduction of the "royal" larvae the Harden brood box is placed above a queen excluder over the brood box containing the queen. The cell bar being coated with sugar syrup. The bees clean off the syrup and thereby "familiarise" the frame and cell cups in readiness for use.
The Cell Bar Frame

The photo shows the cell bar frame used. 10 cell cups are on the top part suspended in the metal strip supplied with the kit; 6 cell cups underneath are in the homemade wooden strip.

The Harden brood box containing the cell bar frame and the open brood is set up 24 hours before the transfer of the larvae.

The photo shows a first attempt with this method in May. It failed to produce any queen cells; the bees simply tried to fill the frame with comb! The bees did, however, build a very nice queen cell on the frame with open brood.
After this try the Harden box was set up as a nuc with this queen cell.
A case of the bees not reading the script!

A second attempt with this method in June was more successful.
Ben Harden method
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