Supercedure cell disappeared!

I don’t understand!

Found a Supercedure cell about ten days ago, small larva in royal jelly. Low numbers of workers/nurse bees and very few other eggs and quite a few drone cells. Haven’t spotted the queen for a while. All added up to Supercedure. Felt quite comfortable and confident all was going to be well with this old queen, and week colony. . . . But!

Went back to check today and there’s no sign of the Supercedure cell, but two more queen cups with eggs in! Almost no other eggs anywhere to be seen.

Why would a colony destroy a Supercedure cell with a small larva and royal jelly in it when it’s clearly in desperate need of a new queen?!

Hi Digby and welcome! That does seem strange…but I’d have to assume that the bees decided to do away with the first cell for some quality or viability reason. Fortunately there are still some eggs being laid by your existing queen. I’ll be curious to hear what others say!

Is it possible that the queen had emerged?, remembering that they emerge only 16 days after the egg is laid. Is there any sign of the indentation in the comb where the sepersedure cell used to be? Sepersedure cells are very obvious, which makes me wonder how one can disappear.

Because you haven’t seen the queen for a while, with very few eggs, low numbers of workers/nurses, with quite a few drone cells in a weak colony, I’m wondering if the queen is dead & you possibly have a laying worker. Bees will sometimes create queen cells when they are queenless, however it’s a lost cause for them.

This is where some photos would be handy. Show us what you’re seeing.

How many frames does the weak colony occupy?

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Hi Jeff, I can’t help to butt in here and ask you more about how a supersedure cell is very obvious? Is this visually compared to an emergency or swarm cell?

I came across what I thought was a supersedure cell yesterday. The queen looked quite slow/older (leathery thorax), poor laying sequence, lots of drones, pretty weak colony, SHB pressure and I actually saw EFB. I wonder if there is a typical time of season a colony will decide to supersede? Or is it just when the colony believes they are at the tipping point of a ‘failing queen and colony’? I wonder why there was only one queen cell (capped).

I’ll be going back in a couple of weeks to see if we have a fresh new queen :slight_smile: (I took photos of the original).

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Hi Bianca, a supersedure cell will normally be mid comb somewhere, most times we see them as a cup, however a number of cells below it wont be used, plus they will be dished out a bit, like the inside of a small mussel shell. I wish I had a photo to show.

Emergency cells are made from within the brood frames, out of brood itself. Very few neighboring cells will be compromised in the process. Actually I think bees use cells where the least amount of other brood is compromised.

Swarm cells will be produced slightly away from existing brood on cups that some people call “play cups”. Plus bees will build extra cells on the edges & bottoms of combs, without destroying any existing brood, that’s if they haven’t got enough play cups to build from.

I raced out before rain started to check on 2 colonies that are making emergency queens, which I needed to do anyway.

One colony was very weak. It only produced one emergency queen cell. I quickly gave it a boost of nurse bees as the rain was starting. Photos following.

The second colony had a lot more bees, so consequently it was making a lot more emergency queens. It’s worth remembering that it takes 200 nurse bees to produce one queen. Therefore, the more nurse bees in a colony, the more queens it will produce.

We took a photo of 2 play cups in the middle of fresh comb, that could be interpreted as play emergency cups.

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Hi again Bianca, I found some better supersedure cells to show what I’m talking about & what I recognize as supercedure cells. These were all empty.

I couldn’t help showing this cluster of bees emerging. I gave this frame to a weaker colony.


Hi @Bianca

This a good article on the types of queen cells and what you should do.

Hope you like it

Well, they were definitely central cups within the brood and had eggs in them, with the original one a larva and royal jelly but that was cleared out. Possibly the same cup used again when I went back to find two cups with eggs in, so maybe the cup itself not removed.

But sadly, on returning today. Definitely queenless. Not an egg in sight. No sign of an emerged queen (opened queen cell)

So, what to do? Buy a queen from Italy or something crazy, or just give up on this lot and hope/wait for a swarm? . . .

If you have a local bee buddy you can borrow a frame of brood containing eggs, you could try that. Otherwise order a new queen, before a laying worker commences laying. The frame of brood is my first preference, because queenless colonies can sometimes reject a new queen.

A customer recently got advised to purchase a new queen. When he went to install the new queen, he discovered new eggs & young larvae. Then he came to me in a panic, so I suggested he grab some nurse bees & brood from me to accommodate the new queen. Nurse bees will accept a new queen above older bees.

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