Transporting queen cells.

There are several issues to be addressed when moving queencells from one place to another. This may be from hive to hive within an apiary or it may be a longer distance that requires vehicular travel.

I have used a “Thermos” brand that was intended for keeping soup hot. I chose this one for it’s broad and squat shape.
foam cell stabilising insert
In use I place a synthetic cellulose sponge in the bottom half of the thermos inner cavity and pour in hot water until the sponge is fully saturated. The water temperature, that I use, will depend on how long it will be before I expect to actually put queencells in the thermos. I do not use a thermometer, guesswork has always been my chosen method. I then pour away any excess water and slide in a circular plug of plastic foam that has had deep, but narrow “V” shaped cuts made in it’s top surface, in a ‘criss cross’ fashion. This makes it look a little like an egg box, the plug slides firmly into place in the upper part of the flask and sits on the ledge that is halfway down. The cells themselves are placed at the junction of slots, firmly, but sensitively… The tapered cells match the tapered shape of the cavities in the foam and provide total stability as each cell is held by four areas of linear contact. There is an air space above the cells and I have a disc of very flimsy compliant foam that was originally intended to sit on top of the cells whilst they were in transit, however I have never used it, nor have I seen any need for it.

Soup type ‘Thermos’ flask
Attitude…
Queencells should kept vertical at all times and all stages of development to ensure proper contact of the larva with the royal jelly within the cell.

Temperature…
Should be kept as close to hive temperature as possible, but temperature regulation is not critical over short time scales. If long distances and times are envisaged the problem becomes more that of a portable incubator rather than just transport.

Humidity…
This is another item whose importance varies proportionately with time. In my soup thermos I used a sponge to hold the hot water so that the liquid did not slosh around. I suspect that the humidity in the flask was higher than natural hive humidity, but I have not had any adverse effects.

Vibration…
I always coach beekeepers to brush bees from combs that may contain queencells, rather than shaking. And cells in transport should be protected from sharp knocks for the same reason. However the rhythmic vibration of a car engine does not appear to cause harm.

Frames of queencells may be transported in a modified picnic box (often called a ‘cool’ box) but with a hot water soaked towel in the base. This will keep the frames moist and warm.

I have looked many times for such a box that would carry frames… With the intention of adding battery power and solar recharging to run a thermostatically controlled incubator type carrying box. So far I have not found one that is suitable.
I have purchased an incubator designed for hatching reptile eggs. The unit cost about 125 dollars u.s and came with both a 110 and a 12 volt power cords. The entire unit can be plugged into a vehicle cigarette lighter or power outlet for use in longer transportation needs.

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