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Is this a queen cell?

Is that a queen cell? It’s much more pronounced than a typical drone cell.

That is just a queen cup. If you have any doubts as to whether it is being used or not, just look inside it. A queen cup is normally quite shallow & is usually the same color as the surrounding comb, as yours is. A queen cell will be built with new wax, so therefore it will be lighter in color.

When the bees decide to use a queen cup as a queen cell, you’ll see that the bees will extend them down with new wax. When you see that, it’s time to think about swarm prevention measures & hopefully you’re not too late.

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I think it might be capped @JeffH ? Maybe your mentor knows better than I do. :blush:

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It’s not your usual queen cup, which is of a similar size but has an opening pointing down. It seems like it’s closed off or ‘capped’ as Dawn says, but way too small for a queen to pupate in and should be vertically extended downwards. It’s an oddball, but I’d say keep an eye on this colony in case of swarm buildup.

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actually you might be surprised - I have seen caped cells exactly like that that I thought were too small to house a queen- but then when I uncapped them I found queens inside. they can go back into the comb further than it looks on the outside. I had a swarmy hive this spring that had about ten viable queens in cells like that one.


To me it just looks like a queen cup. As @Eva said, it’s pointing in the wrong direction. Like I said earlier, it’s best to look into them, to be sure. I’ve seen lots of queen cups that look like the object in the photo. I’ve also seen lots of queen cells that @Semaphore described. I know we’re addicted to photos, however in this case, I think there would be no substitute for seeing it in the flesh.

It IS springtime where @Beesinger is, therefore it will be prudent for Jessica to be swarm conscious, thus looking for signs of swarming, & preventing them, if possible.

Queen cups vs sealed queen cells is not my mentors field of expertise. She’s more into spotting queens :slight_smile: She said “It might be a play cup”.

I suppose this could also be an emergency queen cell, which is built as an extension of an existing cell. For those who don’t know what an emergency queen cell is, see here for more info.

Did you find a queen or eggs when you inspected, @Beesinger?

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I did not find eggs or the queen. I found older larvae and really spotty brood pattern. But no young larva.

Should I destroy the queen cup or whatever it is?

Judging by Jack’s experience and the fact that you did not find any eggs or a queen in this hive, you should definitely NOT destroy this little cell. Your bees need a queen and if this little nugget goes back further than we can see and is capped, one could be about to emerge. Then after some time for her wings and exoskeleton to dry and harden, she’ll be off for mating flights - and hopefully ready to lay soon! I recommend you do some further reading on queen cell emergence and mating cycles so you can gauge what to expect, and if you think it would be better to buy a mated queen.


From your photo, it looks like most, if not all of those capped brood are drones. Is that true for the whole hive? There are a lot of drones in that photo too. That makes me wonder whether the hive has been queen less for while and that is a “king cell” made by laying workers. I agree with @Eva though, don’t destroy it.

I have never heard of a king cell. There’s a ton of drones and most of the brood is drones. There’s one frame of capped worker brood but I don’t think it’s a good brood pattern

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Very helpful, thank you. :blush:

A king cell is an attempt by a queenless hive to make a queen from drone brood. Needless to say it doesn’t result in a queen, and usually it doesn’t even result in a live drone.

As you have capped worker brood in there, you had a queen in the hive less than 3 weeks ago. It is possible that peanut shaped cell that you showed was an emergency queen cell, as @Bianca said. You may also have a failing queen, who has become a “drone-layer”.

If this was a purchased nucleus, I would go back to the supplier, and see if they are willing to help you out with it. If not, you have very few other options. The best would be to get a frame of brood in all stages, with some nurse bees on it, from a local beekeeper. I don’t know if @Martha is in a position to sell you such a frame, but she is somewhat local to you. :wink:

The other option is to wait and see whether the hive can rescue itself with an emergency/supercedure queen. If that is a queen cell, and not a king cell, it will be at least another 3 weeks before you will see brood. By that time, the colony may have too elderly a population to rescue it.

While you decide what to do, I would feed them and hope for the best. I would love to be wrong, but your story is why I love to have 2 hives. The second hive has resources to rescue a weaker hive when needed. Let me just add that none of this is your fault. Beekeeping is superficially easy, but it can be really hard sometimes. You can do this. You gave us great photos and information. You will be an excellent beekeeper. :heart_eyes:


Hi Jessica, when you say “the queen cup or whatever it is”. It would be good to get a photo of the underside to be able to determine one way or the other. There’s no point in jumping to a conclusion without knowing what it really is.


A very good point. I’m going to get back in there as soon as it stops raining and see if it’s a closed cell or a empty queen cup.