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Torn open queen cells

Hello bee experts! I inspected my star hive yesterday and saw something very interesting. Throughout the 8 frame hive, I found FIVE mature queen cells that had been torn open. FIVE! They were all full size, some were chewed at the tip (did not have the nice neat “tin can” opening, it was jagged and frayed), while others were ripped open from the side. There was open (all stages of larvae) and capped brood, and I spotted Her Majesty very confidently moving about the frame, with the workers getting out of her way. I’m just curious what these torn open cells could mean. Any ideas?

Hey Erin, if the cells were not tin canned open like you describe the surviving queen murdered the other queens and the attendant bees consumed the protein. Nature is a beast :slight_smile:


That’s what I was thinking! Just very curious! I wonder why they made so many queens when the current one was doing just fine… she’s a BEAST!

I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that last week I actually stole a frame of brood with two swarm cells and gave it to a weaker hive. We’ve also had every hot and dry weather here lately… so maybe they wanted to swarm but decided against it after I took those baby queens away I’m combination with the weather?

Th always keep us guessing! Thanks for your response!! :smiley:

Happy to offer the opinion. It is normal for them to make multiple cells when they decide to supersede the existing queen in case one doesn’t work out-- I had a frame a month ago with six, and I saw in another forum another beekeeper literally had 30 on one frame of cells. The quality of the queens when there are big numbers like 30 is thought to not be great so even if they survive they generally get replaced soon after the colony realizes they aren’t great layers. In your case was your surviving queen marked so you know it was your original, or is it possible the first surviving queen killed the original and then the others before they emerged and is now on fire laying? By your description of pulling one of the frames you likely gave them more laying space and room to slow the swarming instinct down, but pulling only one frame would not be really enough to stop the swarm behaviour going on-- if you had seen them all capped early enough it would have been a great time to cut around them and start nucs! I went from 7 hives to 21 this season! Its awesome. I’ve started to give hives away because this is as big as I can adequately manage on my own.

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:scream: 30?! That’s incredible! I’ve been pulling one frame a week for the past three weeks to try and help the other hive. My original queen is unmarked (from a nuc last year). So who knows if this is the original or a junior or a II or a III. Haha but, she is laying well so that’s all that. REALLY matters I suppose, right?

You suggested to cut around the queen cells to start nucs… can you explain that whole procedure? I’m curious and would love to have more management options in my toolbox!

Where are you located? Any chance I could steal one of your extra hives? Haha

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I am south of Detroit Michigan in Lasalle Ontario Canada! So a bit of a drive and unfortunately we can’t move bees across country lines (they might be undocumented workers!).

If you have queen cells on foundation less frames just take an exacting blade and carefully slice a rectangle half inch around the cell and ensure you don’t bump it or anything that would cause shock to the developing queen. If you are late in the timeline sometimes the queen will chew her way out while you are doing this so have a queen clip at the ready. Then take the cell to another frame and push the top wax into a spot in the middle of the frame taking care not to pinch the cell cavity (thus the wider area around the cell gives you room to get the cell to stick without damaging the developing queen). Presto.

Just make sure the new hive doesn’t have an existing queen. Also make sure you have a frame of brood with nurse bees a plenty to take care of the queen cell. It’s ideal if you have a frame of drawn wax and food resources too. If you can take a frame that has brood and shake all the nurse bees into the new box then the Nuc will do even better.

Beautiful! Thank you for the description. I don’t think I’m brave enough to try that this year as this is my second season, but I might try that next year if needed. It’s a shame I can’t “help you out” and take one of your booming hives off your hands :wink: haha but in any case, I wish you continued success for the rest of the season and going into winter! Thanks for all the tips, see you around the forum!

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