Drone & swarm cells in super

Wondering if others have had drone brood & swarm cells above the QX. This is the second time I have had drone brood in the flow super, 4 central frames. The first time, in my first year I assumed that the queen had got through the black plastic QX & replaced with metal QX, even though I found her in the brood box. Once I cleared the flow frames & replaced I had no further issues until about a month ago, now in my 3rd year of keeping bees.

This time I cleared the frames & replaced & added an ideal above QX but below flow super as the hive was very active, compared with my other flow hive. Couple of weeks later & I discovered 7 swarm cells & drone brood in the ideal & more drone brood in the flow super. I did a split & moved my queen & 4 frames to a new brood box. I moved the QX up above the ideal so that the the new queen can get out once swam cells hatch. I assume I’ve got a laying worker as my weekly inspections have always found my marked queen where she should be in the brood box.

My question: is this common or is it to do with the wet spring that we are having here in Sydney Australia? & any tips on what to do about it, considering retiring my flow super so that I can just cut out the drone brood if it happens again. Any thoughts?

A queen in the brood box should prevent the workers from developing into egg-layers, colony-wide. I think it’s more likely that the queen got up into your Fsuper when you inspected, after you spotted her apparently :face_with_peeking_eye:
The drone brood probably has more to do with swarm buildup and the larger size of the Flow frame cells.

1 Like

Thanks for the reply Eva!
I thought that it was odd to have a laying worker with a perfectly good queen roaming around the brood box. I was certain that she hadn’t got into the super during an inspection but I also hadn’t put her in a queen cage, I’ll start doing that to be sure. I had been creating space in the brood box by cycling out a frame twice in early spring. Maybe I should have cycled out 2 at a time instead of just the one. Since the split last Sunday they will have more room so hopefully will solve the problem.

1 Like

I was thinking maybe laying workers but this happens when the hives loses a queen and the pheromone stops inhibiting their laying ability. Reading that you are finding queen cells, suggests maybe the colony has started starving the queen and this is how she is fitting up through the queen excluder. Worker eggs will always hatch into drones though. The depth of the Flow Frames does usually result in queen eggs being drones too. It is a bit of a puzzle thats for sure. How big is your queen? Maybe send a pic it might just be she is on the smaller size and depending on how much she has been fed there could be some wriggle room through the QX.

She is definitely on the smaller size but my best layer! I think that you might be right about getting her ready to swarm. I did notice that during the split when I released her from the queen cage she tried to fly away. Hopefully have discouraged a swarm!
Thanks KieranPI

I have noticed over the years that sometimes a worker will deposit the odd egg in available drone cells above a QE, while the queen is happily laying in a normal fashion below the QE Bare in mind that it’s just the odd 1/2 a dozen or so.

I saw one occasion where a queen got up through a buckled plastic QE, before laying full on in the Flow frames, before making her way back down to the brood box to carry on as normal. It was just a matter of luck that I found it before the owner cracked the frames to harvest the honey. Now the honey wont flow out of the frames, I’m guessing on account of the leftover cocoons.

I think that may have been the case last time which is why I changed to metal excluders.
I am glad that I did a split and will see how both are going next weekend. This time I will take photos.
Thanks for your help & advice JeffH

1 Like