Many beekeepers like to utilize a queen excluder in their hives for many reasons which include:
- Confining the queen to the brood box and a super.
- Easier to find the queen.
- Keep the queen from laying brood in honey supers.
The queen excluder should be placed in the hive above the first honey super. This should happen in the early Spring. The queen will begin to migrate to the bottom brood box once it begins to warm up. Before placing the queen excluder in the hive, be sure to find the queen and make sure she is below the queen excluder. You will not want to place the queen excluder in the hive while it is still cold in the evening. The reason is that the colony and the queen are going to want to retain as much heat as possible during these cold nights. If you place the queen excluder in and it gets cold there is a possibility the queen will become frozen and die because she was trapped below the excluder.
The next rule to follow is when do we take off the queen excluder? Under normal conditions, the excluder will be taken off when you harvest your honey in the period of July to August time frame. This will allow the queen to migrate to the top of the hive and stay warm during the cold months. New beekeepers forget about taking off the queen excluder only to find their queen dead from a freeze out in the early Spring.
There should not be ANY drone cells or brood above the queen excluder during the placement of the queen excluder during the Spring months. If you do have drone brood above the queen excluder, the drones will become trapper above the excluder and clog up the excluder. Clogged up excluders will highly limit the honey production.
I also recommend utilizing wood bound queen excluders and all metal stainless steel queen excluders. These excluders will last 10 years or more. There are plastic excluders but they are normally only good for a year or so and break due to wax and propolis buildup on the excluder.