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Queen Cells - why?


Here is a photo of a couple of queen cells. I’ve destroyed them - they had larvae in them.
I’m wondering if these were made because I moved a box of brood up and away from the queen, thereby reducing her pheromone influence in that area? I had moved the second (and upper) deep brood up higher as I wanted to eventually reduce the brood to just one box, but allow the brood to develop and hatch.

Basically I had put an empty ideal above the existing bottom deep brood box, and then an excluder on the ideal. On top of that I put the higher deep box of brood in all stages, but with few eggs.

There is currently brood in all stages in the bottom brood box.


They look suspiciously like swarm cells to me. I know it is late in the season, but even so… :blush:


Agree with Dawn. I hope you checked the queen was at home before you took them down.


Make absolutely sure you have a laying queen in the hive, otherwise any chance of being queen-right was destroyed.

I agree that they look like swarm cells and at that stage, the queen and swarm may already be gone.


Doing what you did will encourage the bees to build emergency queen cells in the brood that you segregated from the rest of the brood where the queen is. I would make sure that all of the queen cells are removed, then place it directly above the QX.

I learned my lesson on segregating brood a long time ago. I segregated brood in a single brood box using two frames of foundation together (instead of checkerboarding) in the middle. The queen stayed on one side. The bees on the other side built emergency queen cells. Then after a while the whole colony decided that it was a trigger to swarm, which they did. On inspection, I only found the leftover queen cells on one side.

Since then, I have never segregated brood.


You can do a similar manoeuvre with supers in the middle. It’s called a Demaree. It’s a really good way of keeping a big colony together for a good crop or for making yourself a few new queens. The emergency cells are well nourished and give you good queens


@Red_Hot_Chilipepper and @Dee

Yes, thank you …I have a reasonably recent new queen as a result of a supercedure. She is laying particularly well now with brood in all stages. There is a chance however that I crushed her with my recent inspection. I heard crunching noises as I lifted the first frame out…I usually do hear these noises unfortunately. I could find no other queen cells amongst the lowest brood box.

I have considered all the replies and am grateful for them, but am inclined to agree, in this case, with @JeffH, that these are emergency queen cells. I agree with others that they are also swarm cells, because, as we all know, bees can swarm on any sort of queen cell given the right conditions. If I hadn’t destroyed the cells, the bees might have swarmed if the conditions are right. I am not in a position (with my experience) to know if the conditions are right of course - unfortunately :smiley: Also I have found that bees can do unexpected things.

As queens age (in the early weeks), my understanding was that the pheromone levels increase to a point. When these cells were made, I suspect there was a way to go with the pheromone levels. I wasn’t totally surprised to see them, as I had read about the possibility of queen cells being made when the brood is separated from the queen. I didn’t know what distance it would take but as in @JeffH case, we see it took only two flat frames of distance to induce them. My ideal super would seem to be plenty of distance in that case. Lesson learned there- I think!


Have a look at queen cells here

Look in again?
You’ll know for sure


Thanks Dee. I had another look in the hive this arvo as well as another look at the article you have linked. I will keep looking to see what they are up to.

I finally found the information I had previously read. It was in the Australian Beekeeping Guide by Goodman and Kaczynski. In their general advice about opening up the brood, they specifically caution as follows, “Avoid transferring combs with eggs and young larvae above a queen excluder as this can stimulate the supersedure impulse to raise queen cells in the super which will then lead to swarming”.

The cells may not have been constructed if I hadn’t had the excluder in place, but I certainly won’t put brood in all stages above an excluder again. I am so pleased that I looked in when I did.


Danny Boy,

Looking n reading the above posts you have plenty of info n fouder to chew on in regards to the pictures cells. Happy Holidays ! :christmas_tree:

Cheers n good luck bro,


@Gerald_Nickel Thanks Gerald. Some good lessons learnt this year!
Talking holidays, the weather is great today in Tasmania, mid twenties. Here is a photo of a Christmas Bush or Prickly Box (bursaria spinosa) for your interest, photographed just minutes ago. Bees love 'em and the honey is excellent and readily purchasable here. Called Christmas Bush here because of when they flower.



Great appreciate the flower :hibiscus: pix you posted ! I never tire of seeing plants, flowers, scenery n more from fellow (guys n gals) from around the world :earth_americas:. That Christmas bush is really pretty. Bet it smells good too on the wind.

I was out today helping a buddy do last (hopeful) mid winter mite treatment. I hope you never have to deal with these parasite bugs. Nasty !

Here’s a few pixs of checking hives n treatment. We completed about 60 hive n less than 1/3 needed treatment. That was good ! Then I went home n treated 3 of my four hives.

Cheers n take care,



I removed all the brood frames above the excluder and put them on another weaker hive.

I had another look in. I found no queen cells at all in the hive and brood in all stages. When I got to the last frame the queen (a big one) scurried to the top of the frame and flew off landing on the ground near the hive. She mustn’t have liked the look of me I suppose. She scurried around more or less in the same spot and I managed to collect her back up and put her back in. It did give me a bit of a surprise.


As per dee comment.


It’s in abundance here at the moment too…looking forward to some Bursaria honey , it also has an interesting colour, blue/green, I think from memory?


Hi Dee,
Do you live in Wales?

I am enjoying my morning coffee :coffee:️ whilst perusing the WBA website; it offers a wealth of information on :honeybee: & :honey_pot:

Thanks for sharing :purple_heart:
PS do you have :hedgehog::hedgehog::hedgehog:?


No bears in Wales, other than Winnie the Pooh :smile:


I do. It’s raining :smirk:


Those are (supposed to be) hedgehogs; side view is better


Ah, @Dee is superior at rescuing hedgehogs. :blush: