Saturday, July 25, 2009

What Queen Cells Look Like

If you're a new beekeeper like me when you lift out frames of comb and see bumps sticking up you probably ask yourself, what is that?

The drones (male bees) are usually laid in cells along the top and bottom of the frame. I'm not sure why the queen chooses that spot, maybe because the centres of the frame are focused for the workforce of the hive - the female worker bees.

When I see a row of drone comb along the rop edge of a frame I don't seem to have a problem recognizing it. But when I saw only two cells like the ones on this photo, I wasn't so sure.

This photo is a frame of honey with a patch of brood comb and within the patch are 2 drone cells. I had this confirmed by an experienced beekeeper and friend, Henry Heimstra, who looked at my hives.

Then I saw these two very large cells on the bottom of the frame.

The cells come out from burr comb so this time I was really unsure... were these 2 cells drone comb or queen supersedure cells? The cells just looked so huge and domed that it was really hard to tell.

Henry confirmed that the two large cells at the bottom of this frame are drone comb.

He said that queen cells are always directed downwards, not across.

(Don't hesitate to click the photos to see the enlarged version)

See the photo at left how the cell goes upwards? That's what makes it drone comb.

On Hive #2 though we did find a queen cell located at the bottom of the frame. See the photo below.

Dad managed to grab a photo looking straight into the comb where you can see the white puddle of royal jelly. If you click to enlarge the photo you can actually see a tiny white crescent shaped larva sitting in a pool of the white royal jelly.

The cells is on the bottom of the frame, turned up for the photo so you can see it.

You'll notice that the direction the cell is being built is downwards.

On closer inspection there was a larvae inside the queen cell.

So my bees have decided they'd like a new queen.
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