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Please help. Queen cell spotted


I’ve got a 2 week+ old purchased hive. Supplier says it’s a new queen, early 2019. Last week I noticed an empty queen cup on a different frame and after posting a few photos and discussion, I’ve concluded it was a “play” queen cell.
Yesterday, day 13, upon inspection I found a capped queen cell and one that’s still very short. The location is not near the bottom of the frame that had a hole in it previously.
The hive came with 5 frames. They were dark empty combs when they arrived. Queen was spotted. And started laying a few days after.
On day 3, I added 1 frame with foundation.
On day 12, I added 3 frames with foundation.
Up til today, day 14, only 3 frames have a lot of brood of all stages and eggs.

Temperature is always warm here at the equator. Flowers are starting to bloom. Rain comes and go, short and heavy.

This is what the hive and the frames look like.

Thanks and swarm regards :slight_smile:

20190303_133559 20190303_132048 20190303_132901

With that brood pattern (a bit spotty and not a lot of brood), I would suspect that they are trying to supersede the existing queen. Even if your supplier says it was a new queen, queens can be poorly mated or sick, and the bees can detect that long before a human would. I would just let them get on with it. :wink:


Ok. When should I check on them again?
They seem to be a little more aggressive compared to last week.
I’m planning to also make a swarm trap box around the fence. Just hoping that if they do swarm, they find another safe place.

If they are making a new queen, she may need up to 5 weeks to show her worth. However, you need to inspect them for other reasons, so I would give them 2 weeks and be prepared to wear gloves and a veil until they have a queen that they are happy with. :blush:

I agree with everything Dawn has advised, If the queen cell has been waxed closed then they are making a new queen. A ‘play queen cell’ is never capped. A bit worrying with the very spotty brood on the frames and that is possibly the reason she is being replaced. I am also seeing a lack of honey and pollen but that might be on another frame you haven’t posted.
Every two weeks is about the right time to do inspections. Walk around checks as often as you like just to check on activity.
An angry hive is a signal that something is wrong, it is up to you to work out what that is.

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Thanks @Dawn_SD and @Peter48,

I went to check again today. It’s still the same. Activity level is still roughly the same. I spotted the queen and she’s still laying. On the neighbouring frames, they are almost filled up with larvae and eggs.

Should I feed this hive? Here, there’s no “bee keeping supply” store… I will have to find out how to make pollen sub and syrup properly.

By the way, this queen was spotted on the same frame where the queen cell is. Wouldn’t she be offended? :slight_smile:

I always play this as if the bees know best:

Leave it alone and check back in 2 weeks: You may find a virgin queen running around or the new queen could be laying by then.

Since I have many hives and can “play”, I’ve taken the old queen and a frame of resources and placed them in a nuc box with a feeder and see how things play out. If the old queen turns out to be a dud, I’ll combine them back with the old hive but if she turns out to be ok, I’ve started a new hive.

I have never made my own pollen substitute, as one can purchase high quality products from beekeeping suppliers in the US. Syrup is easy. I do it by weights, but you can do it by volumes and have just as good results.

  1. Weigh out 5lb of water into a pan.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and turn the heat off
  3. Weigh out 5lb of WHITE sugar
  4. Stir the water and pour the sugar into the pan over about 10-20 seconds, while stirring.
  5. Put a lid on the pan, come back in 5 minutes, stir again if needed until all sugar is dissolved
  6. Allow to cool then feed to bees

Do not boil syrup. Boiling the sugar creates caramel products which are toxic to bees. There are many methods for feeding, and you use the search tool, you can probably find one that will work for you. :wink:

When you download the photos and send in, you see a very wide variety of eggs and larvae. Since this is a new hive essentially, that pattern of cells we see may be from the initial laying of them getting ready. I’m seeing a lot of eggs. Always learning. Here, more curious than anything else. What others see.

What I would not think, he would want is for the girls to swarm with the old queen taking half the bees.

Would this be a good situation to potentially doing a split?

Yes @Martydallas, the swarming of the current queen is what I’m more worried about.

I can probably do this. But here’s the hive’s current condition:

  1. 5 old frames with drawn combs
  2. 4 new foundation frames
  3. 2 out of the 5 combs are with brood of all stages
  4. I’ve started feeding. 300ml of @Dawn_SD receipt syrup
  5. Today is day is day 3 since Queen cell was spotted.

Is making a nuc possible with this particular case? If it is, on which day should I move the current queen with a the comb of resources?

Thanks again

Hi Anton, after looking at your photos, I would not consider splitting that colony. Wait until it has at least filled one box with bees. Then you would be biasing towards more colonies as opposed to honey production.

PS, seeing as you are on the equator, I wonder what season the bees think they’re in. They might be in a constant swarm mode. Or they might be in a constant mode of honey production.

Frankly Anton, have you considered the ‘Queen Cell’ could be a ‘play cell’ which I find all the time in my hives, almost every hive has one. Leave the cell alone, the bees will only make another one. If you are unsure the best option is to do nothing and let nature work it out.
As Jeff has said

You really need to find a mentor to look at your hives. The hive is too small to do a successful split.

There’s really no mentor here I could find. This place is like 100 years behind, but polluted the same (probably worse) :sweat_smile:
This forum is my mentor.

I also thought the colony is a bit small to split. So far I think I’ll observe from outside and prepare a swarm box nearby just in case they swarm.

At the equator, now, seasons have become very unpredictable. We’ve had dry rainy season and rainy dry season. Things are so different from 20 years ago, the air, the land soil, and the water. I remember catching small mud crabs and colourful river fish just in front of our house at the river. Now it’s just black and brown water, often thick and not moving.


You can get a lot of useful information from the video’s on YouTube but be careful that you only watch ones in an equatorial climate. There is an excellent small book called 'Bee Keeping for Dummies", it is simply written for people into their first year or two and very full of good advice. Well worth the price which is fairly cheap.
The pollution there is something else, it is amazing to see waterways choked with garbage and just garbage everywhere. It is a health issue for anything alive including humans. If you live there I guess you don’t notice it.

In your situation, it’s best to leave them alone.

Hi again.

Just to update. Today (15 March 2019) is day 25 since the start of my hive here, and it’s been 12 days since the queen cell was spotted.
I didn’t notice any major changes in terms of their activity. The queen cell looked chewed up, but the Queen’s still there. But I didn’t mark the queen, so I don’t know if this was the same queen or the old one.

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Nice looking queen @Anton :blush: Are you still feeding?

The only way to know if the queen has been replaced by supersedure is to mark the queen. Doing that will also cut down your inspection time if you need to sight her…

I agree with Peter’s comment. Maybe consider it at the next inspection? I use this kind of marker, and this year’s colour for marking is Green:

You can use nail polish, but it bees hate the smell of it and may attack you.

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Ok. I never really thought about marking them :slight_smile:

Is this a good reference for the colour convention?
“Will you raise good bees” = white yellow red green blue.


Now I’m really curious about what happened to the queen cell :slight_smile:

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