Cloake Method of Queen Rearing:
The Cloake method of queen rearing involves a series of stages which divide a colony into a queenright lower colony and a queenless upper colony to improve acceptance of grafted larva, or to facilitate creation of queen cells naturally.
Cloake Board insertion: The Cloake board is placed between two hive bodies when the queen is known to be in the lower hive body. Because a Cloake board either contains or is used with a queen excluder, the laying queen will be restricted to the lower hive body from this point forward. At this time the lower entrance to the hive is reversed so that it faces the opposite direction and then closed. Without the slide in floor in place, the Cloake Board functions as an upper entrance for workers, who re-orient to enter the hive using the upper entrance.
Slide in floor in place: By sliding the floor into the Cloake board, the single functioning colony is now divided into 2 parts – a queenright lower colony and a queenless upper colony. The lower entrance is re-opened, allowing bees in the queenright section to exit the hive. When those bees return, they will do so to the upper entrance, but not be able to enter the lower colony. This results in a higher population of bees in the upper colony. The upper colony is usually left alone for 24 hours for a settling period, in which the bees determine that they are queenless, and prepare to replace their missing queen.
Grafted cells Installed: The queenless upper colony is now prepared to raise queens, and by inserting queen rearing bars with grafted larvae, the beekeeper provides candidates for new potential queens. At this time any emergency queen cells will be removed by the beekeeper. Stage three continues for one to two days, which is long enough for the cells to be fully accepted and built up.
Rejoin colonies as a “Finisher”: The slide in floor is removed from the Cloake board. The queen excluder continues to retain the laying queen in the lower colony while the combined colony incubates the grafted queens. The queen cells will be removed before they hatch and transferred to mating nucs.
Following the removal of the ripe queen cells the cloake board can be removed to re-establish the single united colony.
*Please note you may find alternate methods of using the Cloake Queen Rearing system without grafting online.