How to use a Queen Excluder

A Queen Excluder
A Queen Excluder

What is a Queen Excluder

A queen excluder is device used by beekeepers to prevent the Queen from laying eggs in the upper boxes or honey supers in a Bee Colony. It’s usually a wooden frame with a steel or plastic mesh. The size of the mesh prevents the Queen (because of her size) passing through it.

You will often find that a Queen Excluder also blocks drones (Male Bees) getting to the upper levels as well.

When do you use one?

In spring when the bees are expanding the brood box and you want to control where the queen lays her eggs. You must ensure that the Queen has lots of space to lay or you may find that the colony swarms.

How to use a Queen Excluder

Nice Frame of Brood

Locate the Brood frames and the Queen in the lower sections and add the Queen Excluder above these frames. Be very sure that you don’t accidentally leave the Queen in the Honey supers.

A queen excluder is very easy to add when your add your first supers, simply add it below the first new honey super.

Should I remove before winter?

Yes, in the winter the cluster of bees will move around the hive together. If you leave the Excluder on the hive, you may find the Queen is left behind and will probably die due to exposure.

Always remove the Queen Excluder when you are setting up your hives for the winter months.

Other Things to do with a Queen Excluder

You can use a Queen Excluder to help you split a bee hive, see our blog article How to Split a Beehive

Some people place the Queen excluder above the hive entrance to ensure that the Queen can’t leave the hive; this can prevent a hive Swarming. This is used on the hive at the Auckland Town Hall to prevent them swarming in the busy CBD.


A queen excluder is a handy tool for controlling the bees, we only use them for splitting hives. But I can see the benefit for commercial beekeepers, who want to ensure that no brood is ever laid in the honey supers.

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2 thoughts on “How to use a Queen Excluder

  1. Avatar photo
    Drew says:

    I hive a strong swarm into 1 then later two full depth supers. The hive became very strong very quickly and I added a queen exclude and 3 quarter depth honey super. The brood had mostly filled all the frames in the two brood supers. I expected them to start putting honey in the top 3 quarter super. But instead they swarmed. Any suggestions please.

    • Avatar photo
      Margaret Groot says:

      Hi Drew,

      First suggestion…
      A strong colony will require space, however the space provided needs monitoring and management by the Beekeeper. This means placing a box on top without understanding exactly what is happening in each cell in the brood-boxes below, would mean that there is no space required where they are working, leading to their instinct that there is no room. We often talk about ‘Assessment inspections’ in our podcast and blogs, the reason is that its difficult to understand what the colony is up to if you don’t know exactly what is happening inside cells. Assessing what is happening, is key to let the Beekeeper know what is needed next.
      …so ‘ASSESSMENT – First’ – take notes but take no action so then you can plan your next move.
      When assessing its about looking at each frame one-by-one… checking what is in cells, taking note.
      Next I would ask is…
      ….was nectar in amongst the brood cells? if so, there would be no room for more brood-laying so the hive would then effectively become ‘honey-bound’. A colonys’ instinct would be to leave. this is one of the main causes of later swarming behaviour.
      Handy Hint: Population growth is on-going through Spring and Summer – the colonys’ goal – to maintain foraging capability, you would expect swarming as a natural occurrence in the start of Spring but not during the nectar-flow stage in Summer.
      Second Suggestion…managing space
      …the ways we manage nectar-flow, is by understanding that when Bees put nectar in amongst brood-cells – it means the Bees haven’t got space. So just adding a box on top – does not help.
      Second suggestion…check for frames which the colony is drawing-comb – these can be popped down into the brood box on the outer sides.
      There is so much more but this is our advice based on assumptions on our part.
      Handy Hint: make assessment inspection a key-part of helping you to know what the girls need you to do next.
      Cheers Margaret and Gary – thanks Drew

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