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Queen spotted in one hive 🤓...but what's happening in the other?


Hello all. Today I did my second inspection of my two hives started from nucs on 4/29. I’ve noticed since the first week that one hive seemed stronger than the other. So strong that I added a second brood box last week. I looked into this one first and on the second frame - look who I found!

The other, slower hive looked about 60-70% full, still had one empty frame. Was prepared to add a second brood box but opted not to based on its nearly-but-not-quite population level. This hive was fairly defensive - lots of guards around my veil, bees boiling up all over my gloved hand every time I moved a frame. Also a more whiny sounding hum…and three of these:

I did not see a queen in that hive, but of course I could have missed her. I didn’t see new eggs either, but there was plenty of uncapped & capped larvae.

I’m having trouble finding info on distinguishing between emergency and swarm cells, but am inclined to think these are swarm cells…yet I don’t see the bursting population I assumed there’d be if a colony wants to swarm.

All input & advice welcome & thanks in advance :blush::+1:

PS: I’m proud to say I squashed Zero bees today :sweat_smile::honeybee:


Hi Eva, that is a beautiful looking queen in the first photo.

Emergency queen cells are made from existing worker brood. You will find them in areas where the bees have to destroy the least amount of workers in order to build them. They will always have larvae in them, without exception, because they convert an already charged worker cell into a queen cell.

I would always look into queen cells like the one in your photo for eggs, larvae or even larval food, which I believe is a precerser to egg laying. From my experience, the size of a colony doesn’t always give an accurate indicator as to whether a colony wants to swarm or not. That’s why I always take a look in those freshly built queen cells. Especially during swarm season.


Wally Shaw can help you with that:
If those cups don’t have royal jelly or larvae in them, they are just play cups and you don’t need to worry about swarming, emergency queens or supersedure. :blush:


Great article, thanks @Dawn_SD and thanks @JeffH for the info & advice! It’s coming together in my mind and I’m pretty sure I have swarm, not emergency cells…or play cups :smile::tada:!? Anyway, clearly the thing to do is to re-inspect tomorrow.


Looking at your second photo, that does not look like any kind of queen cell. Possibly just drone cells. Queen cells absolutely will be pointing downward not in the same plane as regular B cells.

If you didn’t find the Queen and did not find eggs, the girls will need to create a new Queen. At this stage the Queen cell could be anywhere in the hive, in the middle, on the edge or at the bottom. It’s what’s most convenient for them. Swarming, is a natural occurrence and you can help prevent it by adding additional boxes. If they have it in their mind to swarm there’s nothing you’re going to do to stop it. Controlling the swarm is another thing. If you have an extra box you can take the old queen out and put it in the extra box with a few extra brood and some food and you will make them think they have swarmed. I.e. controlling the swarm.


Thanks Marty - I appreciate the support. I’m certain they are at least ‘cups’ at this point, rather than drone cells. The openings do point down & look like the ones I’ve seen on the web - they’re about one third of the way along & I need to re-check to see if there’s anything in them. Just to clarify, I’m talking about the solid looking nub on the left side of that piece of comb in the photo. You’re right, the rest of the cells are just worker cells. There were three of these nearly identical structures in this hive - two on the bottom bar of one frame and one on another.

If there is, I’m going with the artificial swarm/split action you mentioned!


Going back and looking at your photo, yes possibly a queen cell. Will be much longer in length though