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Queen cell in a 7wk old hive


Hi all
Our hive is now 7 weeks old and has fixed its chalk brood issues. Population is strong and growing.

A question from yesterday’s inspection.

We surprisingly saw a half built queen cell. Thought we were safe from swarms in the first year?
Anyway, there are plenty of bees on most frames, but a couple are far from full. There’s not huge amounts of honey, but lots of brood and pollen.
With the queen cell under construction, does that mean they’re feeling crowded? (wouldn’t have thought so) Should I put my flow super on? They’ve only ever been in one brood box so far.
(we’re in coastal Sydney, and spring as definately sprung)

Here’s the emptiest frame and the one with the Queen cell.



Hiya Ron, it’s not a queen cell it’s a play cup. It’s only a queen cell when there is a lavae and Royal jelly in it.
More concerning is the lack of bees and the sunken caps. They don’t look like brood cells to my on trained eye. Perhaps @Dawn_SD of @JeffH can be of assistance.
Did you see the queen or eggs during your inspection?
What is also funny is that in your profile you say you will only have one hive, yeah right. :joy: Good luck with that…
Having two hives is good insurance just in case you need to switch a frame of brood for some reason or another… :thinking:


Hi skeggley,
Didn’t think that was brood in the photo, assumed it was pollen. Brood are on other frames.
What the hell is a play cup? Don’t they have work to do?
They shouldn’t be playing!
Here’s the best brood frame.


As @skeggley says, that looks like a cup - can’t tell if they are playing or serious unless you look inside it and we can’t do that from your photo. By the way, he is also wrong. It is a “larva”, because anyone forced to study latin would know that “larvae” is the the plural. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

You have beautiful frames of brood and pollen, from your photos. If there are also plenty of bees, I would rub some burr comb on the Flow frames, and put the super on top. It looks really like a nicely strong hive. I wish I had your queen, from her laying pattern, she looks like a “ripper” as @JeffH would say! :blush:


Hi Ron. A play cup, do you remember years ago you could buy a Clayton’s and dry at the bar of the local. Looks and tastes like a Whisky but no alcohol. A play cup is like that, nothing will come of it. I leave them, sometimes if you knock it down they will make another to show you they can.
Nice frame of pollen on that photo, the hive is certainly not crowded, wait till you can’t see the frame for bees. Don’t add a super till 80% of the honey cells are capped and when you lift a frame out it is really covered with bees and the rest of the frames are the same. At the moment you hive falls way short of that but the queen should be laying like crazy now and the hive will quickly build up in numbers. The frame of brood looks great.


Heck ! I bought 3 Nuc’s three years ago n one had Swarm Cells when I got home n started transferring. It never did Swarm !



Thanks guys, as usual.
Haven’t heard the term Claytons in a long time Peter, but yes I absolutely remember it…is my age in my profile??
How can you tell a play cell from a real one. This is the first time I’ve heard of it.


By the observations we told you above. To break it down:

  1. If there is a glisten of whitish royal jelly in the bottom, they are serious.
  2. If there is a larva (grub/worm whatever you want to call it) in the cup, they are VERY serious
  3. If there are just one or two, they are practising. If there are lots, they are serious.

Just as an side, play cups (cell) can occur anywhere on the frame, position is not important. The important thing is what is inside them. :wink:


Dawn has explained a play cell well, I leave them because if you destroy it the colony will make another one. In the past two days I have gone through 10 of my hives doing full inspections and 7 had ‘play cells’ so it is common.
I’m slowly marking my queens as I find them so that I can get a better idea of the status of the hive.
Your age doesn’t show on your profile but thought you would remember " a Clayton’s, the whiskey you drink when you don’t want a Whiskey". So many of our old sayings have been forgotten.


Raising the bat for the first time in a couple of months so also remember frozen Sunnyboys, cracker night, analogue pinball machines, and for my sins, I even drank Westcoast Cooler BRIEFLY.


Good on ya Ron, I remember when Wagon Wheel were first sold and they were a real ‘meal’ to eat, the pink musks and the chocolate/licorice bullets. And yeah, I often drank a Clayton’s when I had some driving to do.
Regards ole timer