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Wire Queen Excluder not letting workers through


#1

Hi experts and helpers,

I bought a wire QX with a wooden frame a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t been happy with the plastic one getting old and warped and I generally prefer using timber. Also, the plastic one seems to squash quite a lot of bees on the top bars.

Anyways, I just did a hive check and discovered that most of the workers don’t actually fit through the wires! So, I only had a few hundred bees above the QX - presumably many of the ones that were there when I installed it! Argh!

As I watched, the bees tried to get through and struggled, got stuck, reversed out etc… there was even a dead wasp stuck in the wire! Horrible to watch (not the wasp - that made me happy), so I put the old plastic one back on.

My question is: Why is this happening? Are my bees too big? Can’t tell you which type they are as I caught a swarm, but they are very gentle in nature. I bought the QX from a reputable supplier and am very surprised to encounter this problem. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

It is a USA QUEEN EXCLUDER w 17.2mm Wood Frame (code EXCUS) and I am in Christchurch, NZ.
I have a langstroth full.


#2

Hi Paul, I think the QX should be fine. Maybe the bees don’t feel the need to go through it at this point in time. Bees sometimes look awkward going through a QX.

The only problems I’ve had with wire QX’s is when the queen finds a gap & finishes up in the honey super.

I wonder if your QX has something on it that the bees don’t like. You’ll probably find that once the bees have used it for a while, it’ll be fine.


#3

Thanks Jeff. You are probably right, as it doesn’t really make any sense, but they seemed to be struggling and there were lots of bees walking around on the underside of it and doing a lot of (agitated) buzzing… with the look of annoyance about them, like they wanted to get up into the honey supers ( which are 3/4s full).


#4

Wow, maybe they just need to get used to it. Once they’ve used it a few times & coated it with their odour & footprints, it’ll be back to normal.

When you said about dead bees on the top bars, a good idea is to scrape the burr wax off the frames before the QX goes back on. Also scrape the bottom bar clean after extracting honey so that the frames go back in without squashing as many bees. This is important if SHB is in your area, because SHB lay eggs in the dead bees.

Good luck with everything, cheers:)


#5

The new QX has been on for two weeks, so plenty of time to get use to it. So, yes it is weird. Anyways, I will check if there are plenty through the plastic one and make a call on putting the wire one back on.

Regarding the use of the plastic QX, the top bars and bottom bars are clean. I think they are getting squashed because it is warped and no longer sits flat on the top bars, so when I put the super on it forces the plastic down and squashes bees (which I only discover on my next visit). This is the primary reason I changed to the wire QX! Arrrrrrrgh.

Thanks for your thoughts. Paul


#6

Hi Paul, those plastic QX’s are notorious for that. I had a heap given to me but I couldn’t use them because of warping. I was just thinking, wondering how you would go if the wire QX was wax dipped first.

Two weeks, you’d think they’d be used to it by now.


#7

Yeah, I’ve got some wax, so could try that. I was just surprise that they didn’t actually seem to fit through the gaps! Had a bit of a sight measurement against the plastic and the gaps seemed smaller…


#8

I’m pretty sure that’s an optical illusion. I’m guessing the QX’s are made in jigs. The only problem I can see is if a wire is bent & it allows a gap big enough for the queen to fit through.


#9

Well, it might be worth measuring the gaps in a few places.
One of our biggest suppliers in the UK had a whole batch of QXs wrong a couple of years ago.


#10

Are you sure they are not Drones?


#11

Drones can’t get through an excluder at all. Workers have to be motivated to by open comb on the other side or open brood on the other side.


#12

Def not drones. Cheers


#13

Thanks Michael. I’ll scrape some honey comb to motivate them!


#14

Empty drawn comb will do. Foundation will not lure them through, though.


#15

easier maybe to remove the excluder initially and then after they have moved up and got to work on it put the excluder back in?


#16

Maybe a good idea would be to do as @Dee suggests, measure the gaps. Once you’ve ruled that out, a good lure to get the bees going through the QX is stickies.


#17

Try leaning the QX up in front of the entrance; this is a trick that queen breeders use to get drones from a particular hive for instrumental fertilisation. The returning drones will be stuck outside whereas the workers will go through. If this doesn’t happen the QX is faulty; did you buy it from a reputable NZ beekeeping supply business?


#18

Yes, bought it from Ecrotek. Have just put it back on and will check again soon. I think they just weren’t use to it. Also, put a bit of wax on it - probably a better grip for them initially.

I measured it at 4mm. Does that sound right to the knowledgeable?

Cheers, Paul


#19

The standard bee space in an excluder is 4.3mm
It could be too small if your measurements are accurate


#20

I used a little gaugey thingie, but it doesn’t have decimal places… But good to know thanks Dee. Will check it out again this w/e as I have just put some honey on the top, so I am hoping this will be motivation to get through!