Supersedure cells for a new queen. Photo: dadant.com
Eric saw something in his hive and then said something in an email, “I went to check my bees…. I saw open cells with nectar. I saw some brood. I was expecting to see capped brood but not many capped cells at all. One cell was sticking out further and bigger than the others, it made me think of a queen cell, but I do not know. I have not seen the queen, but not sure at what to look for. “
AHA responded, “Did your queen cell look like this in the attached image? The queen cells in the image are supersedure cells that the workers bees make if their queen is failing or if there is no queen.”
A queen cell hanging on the bottom of a frame is a normal swarm cell while a queen cell attached to the side of the frame is an emergency procedure for the hive.
AHA also advised, “Let the supersedure process continue and check for brood after the new queen emerges. If she is inadequate, then replace her next spring.”
Dr. Meghan Milbrath, an entomology professor at Michigan State University expands the supersedure topic, “If you chose to allow them to replace the queen, the process takes a few weeks - she must hatch, and will wait a week before her mating flight, and may take over a week to complete her mating, depending on the weather. Most of the time this process works fine. There is a risk that the virgin will not return from a mating flight, in which case the colony becomes hopelessly queenless, and should be combined with a queen - right colony. Requeening works, and if you chose this option, it is best to leave the colony alone for at least 2 weeks, as disruption can affect the outcome. You can add a new queen if there is some brood, and you can confirm that the queen cells have not hatched, or you can find and kill the virgin. If there is no brood, the bees are not likely to accept a new queen and will kill her. If there is a virgin, the virgin will kill her. If you want to introduce a new queen, you can do so after confirming that there is no virgin, and by introducing a frame of brood from another healthy colony.”
If you want to contact “Beehive Buzz,” please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 318.264.2448 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Also, you can be on the “beemail” email list by emailing your request to the address above.
“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”
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