Queen Cell on new comb after split

New beek here from Gold Coast Australia.
Two weeks ago I undertook a walk-away split with a bursting brood box to create my second hive.
I took 3 frames of eggs brood and honey and placed it in a nuc box with a couple of empty frames of foundation.
I replaced the frames with a mixture of foundation and foundation less frames. There were frames of eggs left in the original hive

A couple of days later I checked both boxes, The queen is spotted in the nuc box, things are going well.
In original hive there are queen cells developing in the brood box, the new frames have some new comb drawn out. The hive is a bit more aggressive than normal for lack of queen.

Today I opened the hive and found an empty queen cell and a queen cell torn through the wall. So I assume the new queen is out. However there are still a number of capped queen cells in the hive. So she must of got out only in the last day or so.
As expected in the hive, there is capped brood but no eggs and no larvae. Waiting a few more days for the new queen to start laying.

What I noted was 2 queen cells on the newly drawn out foundation less frame. It was surrounded by honey in the comb. How could that be? There was no queen in the hive, there was no eggs or comb on the frame when we put it in there. What is going on here and do I need to do anything?

Thanks in advance for your help.
These were originally @JeffH 5 frame nuc from August that were exploding by October!

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I am not an expert. But I have just done a similar split- only in ours the queen stayed in the original hive. Both are doing well.

several things: from what I have read- be very careful at this stage with your original hive- when the new queen is very young and not yet mated- best to to take great care as the queen is vulnerable. I didn’t inspect mine at all from the time I saw there were queen cells being constructed- until a week after the time I expected the queen to have mated. If your queen has just emerged it takes from 2 to 4 (usually 4( days before mating flights- and then- mating flights will only succeed if the weather is good (I was told the temp must be above 24c- but I don’t know if this is true). After that it will take another 8-12 days before the queen starts to lay. So if your weather hasn’t been good- it may take a while yet before you see any eggs/larvae.

I observed new young larvae at the projected time so knew mating was successful. i have decided not to inspect again for a few weeks to let the new queen get established and the first round of brood to emerge. I have noted big increases in pollen intake over the last few days so that’s a good sign that there is a lot of brood rearing happening.

About the queen cells on the foundation: were they capped cells or just ‘cups’? If they were simply uncapped cups i am going to guess they are nothing to worry about- just what the bees do when they have queen issues. And if they were capped- other than the mystery as to how the bees managed to maneuver larvae into them- again I am going to guess it’s nothing to worry about?

So in short: it seems you have nothing to worry about. Just be careful with the new queen.


Thanks Michelle and anyone else reading but they were capped queen cells.

Hi all,

I know this thread is a long time ago. But I have similar situation here and hope to know something from your experience. Can you update how your hives are going? Our is it too long ago? Haha

I’ve just purchased 3 new colonies about last two weeks in mid Feb 19. So that’s 2 weeks ago. One of the hives had a “play” queen cell last week (we had this discussion on another thread titled “hive strength evaluation”, but i think it’s a note relevant topic here). After seeing that it wasn’t filled, I was quite relieved.
But today’s inspection got me worried again.
Here’s what I got in this hive:

20190303_133559 20190303_133031 20190303_133400 20190303_133437

In summary, it’s a new hive from a splitter colony, new queen (early 2019), just added 4 “half-hung” foundation frames yesterday, no feeding, lots of small plant flowers blooming, warm weather (26-32) with short rain, tropical (0° latitude).

Do you mean this is a split?
I see capped brood, larvae and pollen, but absolutely no honey stores.
There should be stores in the brood frames, above the brood.
You need to feed sugar syrup ASAP by what i see. Your bees are starving and still trying to do a good job.
If you see flowers out there it doesn’t mean they have nectar necessarily.

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Wow. Thanks for this. I’ve always thought there would be nectar with flowers. Yes I’ve been thinking why there’s no honey at all or very very little.

So how do I know if nectar of available out there?

if there has been good rain in the proceeding months- that’s a good indication. But the best indication is that the hive starts filling up with honey. Then you know there must be nectar available. As Webclan said- with all that empty comb- the bees could really do with some heavy sugar feeding at this time.

Sorry. I missed answering this question. I believe this colony I purchased was a split from a bigger colony. When they arrived on the 18th Feb, there’re 5 combs, all empty and 1 sugar frame feeder. I checked to see if the queen was there and took out the sugar feeder on day 2. On day 5, I noticed fresh eggs and from then on they were developing ok.

And true, no honey stored at all. I’ve started feeding them with homemade syrup since yesterday after seeing your comment. I made 1:1 sugar and water.
How much should I feed them? Is there any rule of thumb for feeding?


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I would feed them until you start to see at least a couple of frames of capped food. It will partly depend on the nectar flow, but that could be a few weeks, or a few months, hard to say.

It is a bit naughty that the “split” you were given is so depleted. In the US, UK and Australia, you would expect 5 well-populated frames. There would be at least 2 frames of food (honey and pollen), 2 frames of brood and perhaps one frame of drawn comb. It seems that you have really been given what we would call a “package”. Just bees and queen, with no other resources except for some drawn comb. With that in mind, I think you are doing pretty well. Just keep on feeding. :blush:

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Haha. I guess they don’t do “package” the way it’s done there. But yeah, I agree. They came with 5 totally empty black combs and a heap of sugar.

Thanks @Dawn_SD

Oh. Have you heard about giving powdered soy bean as “pollen sub”?

I believe it is used in many commercial pollen substitutes, mixed with other things. Not ideal, but better than starving. :blush:

See if your bees have pollen balls on their legs. If they do, avoid feeding soy.
It may well be they have enough pollen, just can’t find nectar.
I see bee bread and pollen in one of your frames.

At the moment my bees also bring lots of pollen and no nectar.

Yes. I do see them carrying luggage home. :slight_smile:

I tried feeding them on a little cup just to try out the syrup before giving them on larger tray.