Saturday, May 17, 2008

Queen cups

I noticed a few odd shaped cells on some of my frames so I asked on my forum about them and posted a picture. I was told that they are Queen cups. You can see one in the picture above...the larger white cell - almost bubble shaped with another slightly to the right and lower but not quite as well formed.

Play cells, also known as queen cups, are the little cells that look like acorn cups, that appear as though the bees started building a queen cell, then changed their mind and curved in the entrance to be, what appears to be, the diameter of a worker cell. These cups are always around and become part of the furniture so it is easy to forget to look inside them but you do so at your peril because they are the real thing.

I was a bit concerned about them to begin with but have been reassured that they can be quite common and that they aren't a sign that I need to requeen - in fact they can be a sign that, pm plastic frames, that th bees are a little unsure of themselves and are taking their time to get used to the frames. I'm going to give them another week alone in the hives and do another inspection next Saturday, weather permitting. Another week will allow them time to get some capped brood and give me time to see some imrovements and notce some eggs, larvae and brood in all its stages hopefully and then we will see that the Queens are there even if we can't see the Queens themselves.

Here are just some of the responses I got that were so helpful:

Queen cups are something the bees do all the time and it mostly does not go any further. Queen cells are something different. They are the peanut looking things that already have a larvae inside and are sealed up.

After only 6 days of having this package, it is too soon to see anything. There are probably eggs already in the cells, but you cannot see them yet until you are trained to find them.

Do not worry about anything now. I think you need to give them time.


Some beekeepers were taught (incorrectly, IMO) to solve every problem by getting a new queen. That's matracide not beekeeping. I see you are using plastic foundation--that tells me alot about how your bees will progress. Bees reared on wood can refuse to work plastic to the point of swarming rather than building comb. Queens often hesitate to lay in plastic. Plastic foundation creates some very unique experiences where comb building is concerned. Some bees just like to have a queen cup available at all times. They make them, tear them out, and rebuild in a different place on the same comb or a different frame entirely. Usually you don't see queen cups being drawn before the comb is fully drawn on a frame but the plastic foundation maybe throwing the bees off and they're blaming the queen.

At this point wait and see is the best option--if they cap it, then decide what to do.


Well I am still a new bee, but after I installed my packages, I did not disturb the hive for 10 days. When I opened things up I found the marked queens but "thought" I saw eggs. White mini eggs on a white backround was tricky. I just took some deep breaths and 2 weeks after installation, I checkd and there was capped brood...Now they are going full tilt boogie...

Just give them some alone time Wink

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