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John's Beekeeping Notebook

Cell-plug Queen Rearing

also known as the Jenter Method

High quality, locally-adapted queens are easily raised with the cell plug method.In 1986, a New Zealand beekeeper introduced me to this method of rearing queens that does not require grafting bee larva.  He described the method during a visit to Fiji, then kindly sent me a Jenter kit through the mail as a gift. 

The cell-plug queen rearing method is similar in most ways to other queen rearing methods, but overcomes difficulties that novice breeders often have grafting larva.  The Jenter queen rearing method was awarded a Gold Medal by Apimondia in 1987. 

The Jenter box is placed in the brood nest in a breeder hive The Jenter box works best when the bees have had access to it for a day or two before the queen is put in the box.The method involves confining the breeder queen in a plastic box, where she lays eggs in cell plugs.

The plastic parts of the Jenter box are precision fit. A few days later, the beekeeper moves the plugs, now containing young larva, into queenless cell-raising colonies. 

There are several versions of cell-plug kits sold today.  A cut-away view of the original Jenter box from Germany is shown at the right.

Queen cells are 'drawn' by bees in strong cell rearing colonies.

The cell-raising colonies feed and care  for the queen cells.   When the queens  are ready to hatch, each cell is moved to a mating nucleous  colony.

Mating nucs use fewer bees than full colonies to raise each cell.  An alternative is mating nucs is the 'split board.'

The guy in these photographs is my friend Robert Hutchinson of Dallas, Texas.   He raises more than one hundred queens a year now with this method.   Robert was awarded the Texas Beekeepers Association's "1996 Beekeeper of the Year" award.    

I have been very satified with the quality of the queens that I raise, and attribute this to several factors:

  • No damage to larva during grafting

  • Fewer queen cells in each cell-raising colony than commercial breeders typically use.

  • Plenty of feeding and availability of pollen during the cell-raising period.

  • Queens that are well-adapted to local conditions.      

Robert and I wrote an article on this queen rearing method that was published in Bee Culture magazine, December, 1990, and in a Speedy Bee newspaper the next year.  The Jenter kit is available from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm (see my Links page).


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John's Beekeeping Notebook  http://www.outdoorplace.org/beekeeping/   Content from John's Beekeeping Notebook may be used for any non-commercial purpose except internet duplication, providing the source is acknowledged.  Created by John Caldeira, Dallas, Texas, USA    john@outdoorplace.org