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Part One – updated 01/07/2021 – by John Dobson (now retired)                                                                


Beekeeping, along with other primary industries, is having to keep up with the times.  We need to use cost and time-saving techniques and approach the craft more from a business perspective rather than a lifestyle.  The advantage is, of course, the more efficient and soundly based the business becomes, the better the lifestyle is!


I think beekeepers are receptive to this thinking.  They seem to share an inclination to look at a job and think, “There must be a better way”.  Gadget competitions, beekeeper’s back yards and beekeeper designed equipment are testimony to this innovative way of thinking.


Everyone knows that regular re-queening of your hives pays handsome dividends by way of increased production and disease resistance.  When I started my beekeeping business, it wasn’t long before I began thinking of how to safely carry queen cells.  I wanted a carrying system that was lightweight, easy to use, provided a constant temperature, protected the cells, didn’t stir up bees in hives or mating nucs and didn’t sting!  I had some experience with electronics and started experimenting.  With the help and advice of an electronics engineer, the concept of a portable cell incubator began to take shape.  


It took quite a few months to fine-tune the workings, but the new portable cell incubator soon became an essential part of my production process.  The more I used it, the more I appreciated its advantages – and the more I felt other beekeepers would be interested.  Eventually, the name “Carricell” was coined, and 35 years ago I advertised them for sale.  Since then I have made some improvements in the operating efficiency and have produced a 40 cells, 70 cells, and 144 cell units.


Today I can confidently say the Carricell is ideal for advanced cell incubation and transporting.  It is lightweight, efficient, reliable and user friendly to both bees and beekeepers.


So what is it?  How does it do the job so well?  Basically, it is a top-quality, insulated, pressed steel toolbox divided horizontally.  The base is fitted with heating elements, an electronic temperature controller and a power connection.  A hole-punched foam tray and digital thermometer are at the top.  Power is supplied from a vehicle accessory (lighter) socket or directs from a 12 or 24-volt battery.  The cord socket supplied enables connection to a battery charger, transformer or another vehicle. Alternatively, a mains power supply can be purchased to operate the Carricell for extended periods, or overnight.  Power use is minimal, drawing only 1.8 amps intermittently.  The Carricell has been specifically designed for the job and tested by the inventor/maker.  I know it works well, because I used it a lot, and so do many other forward-thinking bee farmers.


In fact, the Carricell is used at every stage of queen bee production.  Cells are out of reach by bees but are readily accessible to the beekeeper.  Up to 40, 70 or 144 cells are handled quickly in one movement, and because each cell is individually protected, any emerging queens have no chance of reaching other cells – a big plus when you are pushed for time.


Is it worth the cost?  This is something each beekeeper needs to decide.  If you have just a few hives or use few queen cells, then probably not. When your cell use is counted in 50’s, 100’s, or 1000’s or produce your own cells, and if you regularly re-queen with advanced queen cells, then I would suggest that using a Carricell is definitely a “must-have tool.”  The savings in your time, the ease of use and lessening of work stress gives the surety of protection for your unhatched queens. This makes a Carricell worth much more to your business than your initial outlay.


A few quotes from Carricell users: - “How did we ever manage without one?”  “We use it all the time.”  “So convenient, no more boxes of bees or hot water bottles.”  


The Carricell is available from the inventor/manufacturer or in some places, your local bee supply shop.  I also offer advice and components for building cabinet incubators.  


For more information on the Carricell or Cabinet incubator, write to 

John Dobson, 67 Poporangi Road,   RD1, Hastings 4171 New Zealand, Phone 0064 27 449 4396, or 0064 6 8707070, 

Fax 0064 6 8707077, or email

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