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Unusual cell structure?

Hi all,

My wife and I are new to beekeeping, and are loving it. We are in Wollongong, one hour south of Sydney Australia. We installed a package + queen into the flow brood box a little over 2 weeks ago. We have inspected twice since installation and it appears that all is going well.

Today when we inspected to top up the frame feeder we had a plan to find the queen (unmarked) and check for different cells etc etc…we did not find the queen during inspection but may or may have not found her in hindsight in a photo, attached below…opinions gratefully received.

Good news is that on the inner frames we saw many large white curved up larva in cells as well as honey cells, pollen cells and capped brood cells too. So we think all is probably well.

However I have a question regarding some unusual looking cells drawn out on one of the outer frames. (FYI we have used wax foundation on plastic frames.)

Photo attached (hopefully I have succeeded at that)…is this normal? Is it an attempt at cross comb? Or is there some chance it is the start of a supersedure cell?

Any advice really appreciated…and if there is anyone in Wollongong that would like to team up every now and then or discuss bee issues that would be cool too :slight_smile:

Thanks, Aaron and Jane

Hi Aaron,

Well done…
The only other thing I can say is that in my humble opinion, that is not the queen.

Also, I am too inexperienced/ignorant to recognise those plastic frames, but the funny comb bit looks like something to do with the bees avoiding the plastic strips in the foundation.


Hi Dan,

Thanks for your prompt reply and honest queen opinion. We’ll find her some day haha. It’s like a live game of Where’s Wally.

The frames are fully plastic and come in two halves that press together and click into place. The wax foundation goes in between the two pieces. They are made locally by a bee supplier guy Chris Parker. The design seems good and they have been easy to use.

My concern was the unusual cell structure growing out of the side of an outer frame. It’s not ‘hanging down’, more like a vertical sydney harbour bridge. Gee it would be a shame if it was swarm-related and they all upped and left so soon after settling in!


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Hi Aaron, I’m pleased that those frames are made locally - kinda excuses the fact that I hadn’t seen them before. I would be very surprised if that is a queen cell. Bees sometime add bits of comb here and there like that , and it almost looks in your case like a bit that they might have constructed in the area the plastic brace, if it were not there. Sort of like they thought they had better put it somewhere!

They build quite a bit of annoying burr comb here and there, and you will see much more of it as the colony grows. Hopefully someone else will give their opinion too.

I rarely try and find a queen. I look most of the time for single eggs in the bottom of the cells (these are very small) and that tells me she was alive very recently.

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Hi Dan,

Great thanks for the reassurance, appreciate it. We are on a steep learning curve but really enjoying it. Reading as much as I can.

We are members of Illawarra bee club but in the few times we’ve attended meetings haven’t managed to meet anybody that lives close enough to us for it to be practical to get together easily. I should make a bigger effort to get a mentor :slight_smile:

Thanks again,

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I agree with @Dan2, I don’t think that is the queen. The bees around her are not treating her like a queen. They should be head-in towards her and gently fussing over her, like in this photo:

Queens are notoriously elusive. They run faster and further from smoke than any other bee in the hive. If you really need to find the queen, it is best to use as little smoke as possible. Most of the time, you really don’t need to find her. If you see eggs and uncapped larvae, she was in the hive within the last 7 or 8 days.

Again, I agree with @Dan2, I think it is an attempt to avoid those plastic strips. I would clean it up with a hive tool, or you may find that they extend it as a bridge to connect to the adjacent frame. If you have a photo of your “Sydney bridge” structure, we could tell you if it looks like a queen cell, but it doesn’t sound like one. Also, your bees don’t look overcrowded, so I doubt that they want to swarm at this point.

There is a nice article here with lots of photos of different types of queen cells. It is quite long, and gives detailed instructions on what to do if you find them, but just flip through and look at the photos to get a feel for the appearance and positioning of various types of queen cell:


Hi Dawn

Thanks for your helpful comments…and the link about queen cells. I’ve read half of it already!

Ok now I’m sure the structure in our hive is not a queen cell. Two of the lower photos in my original post show the bulged cells, but no they don’t resemble queen cells.

Sadly we didn’t get any good photos of the more interesting central frames when we lifted them out as we were focussing on the inspection. Next time we will be better organised.

Thanks again we appreciate the support :smile:

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I would call that comb structure a “fin”. It sticks out at right angles to the foundation. It is most commonly found on plastic, but occasionally on other foundation. I would scrape it down tot he plastic where the fin is. Just the fin, not the rest.

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Thanks Michael that sounds like good advice. When we are back in there in a week or so I will check it out again and consider dealing with it. Thanks for help putting my mind at ease.

(As an aside…I wish we had more than 1 hive now…as there isn’t really anything to do with it now for a while but wait and watch.)


G’day Aaron, at first glance I thought it was the queen. However upon closer examination, my mentor & I reckon that she is just another worker.

That is just bridging comb, to be taken down on the next inspection. Nothing to worry about, in agreeance with the others.

I understand your frustration in relation to only having one hive to look at. I started off with one also. It didn’t take long for me to bump it up to 40.


Hi Jeff thanks for the extra reassurance. It’s a great forum, I’m immediately impressed by everyone’s helpful responses. I just read on another thread that you shouldn’t approach a hive after a glass of whiskey…which could cause all sorts of issues with my afternoon backyard activities :slight_smile:

Wow you have 40 hives, I can see how the addiction takes hold but that’s getting extreme haha. Hope you have understanding neighbours. Have a good week mate, Aaron.

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You’re welcome Aaron, at last count it was 51. It fluctuates a bit. That’s not counting the splits I have producing new queens. There’s probably another dozen there.

I started out 30 years ago. I got very addicted to beekeeping. One thing that I learned about bees is that you never stop learning about them.


Ignore the ‘advise’ about the whisky, it was started by the Temperance League !!!
I can vouch for Jeff H being addicted to bees, going to visit I always look for his ute first, if it isn’t there he is out at a hive somewhere, then down the side of his house, more hives, finally the front door. If Wilma was not also as addicted she would feel … They are a lovely couple and Jeff is a valued member of the forum.

Thanks for those comments Pete. cheers

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Hi Peter, I spotted the queen in that nuc near the wheelie bin with new eggs. I’ll take another look in 6-8 days to make sure she’s laying fertile eggs.

Also the nuc of that other bloke’s has some nice sealed brood now. I’m thinking if I don’t hear from him for a while, I’ll take some rent by way of sealed brood :slight_smile: His neighbors are “not happy Jan”. He may not be in a hurry to take them home again.

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