Are you preparing to do the first Spring inspection of your hive? One thing you may encounter is queen cells. For anyone starting beekeeping, identifying different cells can be a challenging task.
What is a Queen Cell? A Queen cell is a larger elongated cell often standing out on a frame shaped like a peanut. There are three types of cells – swarm, supersedure and emergency.
Swarm Cells Bees create swarm cells to raise a second queen. When a colony expands and becomes overcrowded, the old queen and bees will swarm in search of a new home—leaving the new swarm cell as a replacement.
If you spot these cells, your bees are already in swarm mode. The best option is splitting your hive into two smaller ones, so you get an extra hive rather than losing bees. Take your time, do your research and make a plan.
Supersedure Cells The main difference between swarm and supersedure cells is that a supersedure cell replaces the old queen while swarm cells create a queen for a new hive. So when bees sense that their old queen is failing, or injured, they’ll begin to make a new queen cell. The queen that emerges from that cell will take the place of the old one. Like swarm cells, supersedure cells are vertical, but they will usually be located on the face of the comb rather than on the bottom of the frame. The bees create several supersedure cells at once, and there will be two or three in a group. If your bees are making supersedure cells then they think they need a new queen, leave them be – there’s no need to interfere.
Emergency Cells If the queen dies and the hive becomes queenless, the bees will go into emergency mode and work hard to create a new queen. Bees will build these cells anywhere on the comb. Emergency cells are a sign that your hive could be in crisis and the bees are responding.
Don’t Panic. If you find Queen cells in your hive, don’t panic. Supersedure or emergency cells should be left for the bees to manage. However, if you have a swarm situation, you need to take action.
Need a New Queen?
We will be selling newly mated and marked Italian Queens from late October.