Busy busy bees – new queens on their way

Following on from my apiary visits at the beginning of the month where I had found new queen cells I carried out a textbook artificial swarm, once I had found the elusive and newly slimmed down queen. The queen cups were already built and these had eggs in them rather than larva or pupa so it was quite early in the whole swarming process so I returned last week to carry out another quick check just to make sure that the bees had continued their journey to requeening the colony once the original fertile queen had been removed and re-hived with her flying workers.

Queen cells - June 2013

Queen cells – June 2013

I need not have worried as the bees had done what nature has taught them is required when the colony is queenless and they had the advantage of eggs laid in queen cells as opposed to having to draw out an emergency queen using an egg laid in a normal worker cell – never the best solution and these tend to get superseded very quickly.

Queen cells - June 2013

Queen cells – June 2013

The uncapped queen cell  in the image above has been abandoned and did not contain a larva, however this hive had produced four new queens from the cells that I had spotted in my earlier visit and these are all capped, surprisingly they had also produced some slightly smaller cells which I assume were also queens on an outside frame in the brood box – these were all on new comb so lighter in colour than those above – I have not seen this before and hope that these were not emergency queens due to their being a problem with the other earlier queens in the hive? I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this, please comment if you have any ideas?

Queen cells on new comb on an outside frame

Queen cells on new comb on an outside frame

The original queen that I moved onto new foundation in a single brood box had also been busy and after a week or so in her new home she had completely filled the single brood box on the hive almost to the outside frames with eggs so these bees desperately needed new space for colony expansion and storing food so I gave them an extension in the form of a new super on the brood – I am beginning to think that I may need to go with a double brood system next year if my queens keep working so hard – I have not had any problems with the colony expansions this year. I put this down to re-queening last year (naturally), early feed during the spring and the great location of the apiary on the Kent/Sussex borders surrounded by established woodland, agricultural land and urban areas within reach of the foraging bees.

I spent part of the weekend cutting out old comb, cleansing frames before adding new foundation, sterilising supers and brood boxes and generally getting myself ready for the summer flow which is just beginning – I have greater hope for my bees than last year and the weather is supposedly going to return to near average temperatures again by the end of the week, or so we are told. I hope that your girls are doing as well and you are having as much fun!

I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog,  feel free to contact me with comments, suggestions or general feedback, click on the right column to subscribe and receive updates when I next have the time between chasing the bees to write again.

I can also be found at @danieljmarsh on twitter or British Beekeepers page on Facebook.


N.B. clicking on the images opens a higher resolution image in a new window.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by juliblue on August 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Hi, maybe you can help me- new beekeeper in Southern CA – my hive showed signs of queen cells last week at inspection- about 8 each on 2 inner frames. I went in again today with the idea of culling some excess queen cells, but when I went into hive and checked all frames- ALL wax build ups- ALL queen cells were gone. They looked like all the pictures you showed of cells around outside edges of frames. Is there a reason bees build them, and then remove them on their own? I don’t see any info on that anywhere on web. Thanks any info would be helpful!


  2. Posted by thehumansarah on September 12, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    so how in the world did you get involved in bee keeping!? i would love to start


    • Hi Sarah, I first became aware of problems with bee colony decline in America about 7 years ago, I started to read more about it and realised there was a much bigger problem than spanned across many countries so I decided to do something about it on a small local scale. I joined a beekeepers association, spent a year shadowing a very experienced beekeeper, I attended lectures and read lots of books and then I started keeping bees. That’s when you really start to learn about them!


  3. Posted by Paul Roberts on January 24, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Daniel, I’m just reading through the old posts so you may have found this out by now, but the cells in your picture look very much like supercedure cells, the bees tend to build these int he middle of a frame rather than at the bottom, sometimes for practice but also when they have determined that teh current queen needs to be replaced


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