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Are the three big cells emergency queen cells?


We are second year beekeepers from Sydney. We deduced that a hive at a friend’s place had laying workers. This was because there were multiple eggs in single cells, and also lots of multiple eggs in cells above the queen excluder, plus lots of drone cells.

We followed the advice on Michael Bush’s website about laying workers and introduced open brood. The following weekend we found this frame with two sealed and one unsealed larger cell. The cells weren’t there when we inserted the frame of open brood. A link to the photo is below.

It looks like they might be queen cells, but they don’t look like the photos of queen cells you usually see on the net.

It’s a long drive, and we are kind of hoping that they are, so we don’t have to make the trip this weekend. Any opinions?


I’m in my second year too, so dont know heaps but i have seen emergency queen cells and they dont look like this.

Where did you get the open brood from? I would have expected to see lots of capped worker brood on the frame if it had eggs and larvae when you put it in. From the photo it looks like a small amount of capped drones and a few larvae, which makes me think there werent any fertilised eggs in it?


Looks like a lot of drones to me.

Was this a foundationless frame?


It is foundationless.

The transferred frame came from a queen-right hive (she was laying last weekend).


When introducing comb you really need some worker cells, looking at that frame I’m not convinced there was much worker brood in it at all, which I’m going to argue is because this frame was foundationless.

You say you inserted this comb a week ago? If it was young brood I would expect there to be far more capped brood on the frame at the one week stage when you took this photo (as Dunc has said). There looks to be a lot of recently hatched brood on this frame.

Is there larva in the cells that aren’t shown in the photo?


Laying workers. Ok

What I do if the hive is strong is put in a frame of eggs. You have to check there are eggs. Pheromones from brood may suppress your LW ovaries but you may need more than one frame after another, ie don’t put them all at once. If three don’t work then I call it a day and shake them out. I’ll shake a colony out straight away if they are small to start with. Presuming you have other hives, take the roof off and put it on the ground ten feet or so in front of the other colonies. Smoke the bees well so that they fill up with honey. Shake every frame into the roof and take the old hive away completely. The bees will beg their way into other colonies and will be allowed in because they bring a bribe. There any laying workers will either be overcome by brood pheromone or the egg police will eat their eggs.


@rinsemesocks, I agree with @RBK. They are drone cells. You’ll notice a queen cup, even a play cup, quite easily the first time you get one. It really will look alot more like the photos you see when do an image search. Take a look at this thread for a few images and discussion: Empty (?) Supercedure Queen Cups- lots of Drones- somethings afoot- Advice Please :-)


That comb looks like worker comb to me. They are probably capped workers. Capped workers look like drones when they are capped sporadically. Those two large caps look like capped drones in a bit of awkward comb, brought about where two combs meet.

I see a few sunken caps which could be nothing to worry about. I hope there are a lot more bees on the frame while it’s in the hive with SHB in mind, not to mention brood temperature.


Here is a solution for laying workers from 1890… first half is basically what Dee has mentioned above^ Part two is a bit more involved… haven’t tested it :slight_smile:


I guess we will find out tomorrow when we visit. Hopefully the second frame of eggs we placed last week will have a queen cell or two.


The cells were gone this weekend. Another frame of eggs went in, so we will see what happens. Thanks for the replies.



I would be with other comment … Sure looks like a drone cell or two . Usually I find these attached at or near bottom of frames or in small or big clusters but singles can happen.

How long have you been missing your Queen in the hive. The other post shows another single drone cell n one which appears to be a supercedural Queen cell.

Where are you located n what your weather like n is there any nectar flow presently. I’m
Guessing your in Australia because most of us Northerner aren’t even close to this yet. We are still getting snow showers n chilly periods.

Let me put in a little plug for better info in your profile. Answers often hing on correct info … It doesn’t have to be specific but general notes really help. You did provide great pix’s n that was useful …

Get back to us on the additional info if you could so we can be a bit more helpful.

Looking for your note,

P.S. I encourage you to keep notes n a hive log of each hive. I find these specific notes helpful whether what you did was successful or fail. It’s helped me not get burnt making the same Bo Bo/mistake. Each of these situations is a great learning experience n a lessening curve. Never too late to start notes n logs. Cheers !


We are in Sydney Australia. Just before Christmas, the hive was going great. The queen was laying well with 4 or 5 frames of brood. When we inspected in the second week of January, the brood frames were filled with nectar. The bees hadn’t moved up into the second box. so we moved some frames up and added new foundation into the brood area. There was never any brood thereafter, and then drone cells started appearing in the subsequent inspections. This hive is quite a distance away.

The other post is a different hive. It came from a split where the bees made their own queen. The split happened on 14 January. She was laying on three frames on 18 February (eggs, larvae and capped brood). On 4 March we inspected, and most of the brood frames were being filled with nectar and absolutely no sign of eggs or larvae anywhere (lots of capped brood) but several queen cups (but no eggs or larvae inside). I looked again on 6 March because one of the frames had broke and did not have anything to fix it (rookie mistake) and that is when we noticed by chance the two cells whilst fixing the other frame. I am kind of surprised as she is a new queen and the hive is really bursting with bees.


An update on this hive. We inspected the hive today and we finally found a queen cell (I think) so hopefully it is back on track now.

(the photo is upside down)


if it is in the middle of the frame, that still doesn’t look long/big enough to be a queen cell to me. More likely drone. Sorry. :flushed:


Oh dear. That was frame number 4 of brood added. Somebody suggested that we had an infertile queen, so the bees weren’t making a new queen. I have looked several time through the hive and haven’t seen her. Added another frame of brood and will see what happens.

Another photo of the cell closer up.


Ah, that looks more like an emergency queen cell. Keeping everything crossed for you, except drone legs… :smile: