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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Liberty Hill, TX, USA
    Posts
    50

    Post

    We were checking our hives a month or so ago and we saw supercedure cells. Everything I have read about them says to leave them alone, but the engineer in me always wants to know why. Not why do bees build them, but why in the middle of a frame. I've always wondered what makes bees build queen cells at the bottom, but supercedure cells in the middle. Then it hit me. Could it be that if they are going to swarm they have time to plan, so they build queen cells along the bottom where there is plenty of room? But when something is wrong, they need a new queen as soon as possible, so they take an existing cell with an egg in it and turn it into a queen cell regardless of its location in the hive. Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

    Thanks,
    Doug Norman

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Post

    >why in the middle of a frame. I've always wondered what makes bees build queen cells

    You mean swarm cells? Supercedure cells are also queen cells.

    >at the bottom, but supercedure cells in the middle. Then it hit me. Could it be that if they are going to swarm they have time to plan, so they build queen cells along the bottom where there is plenty of room? But when something is wrong, they need a new queen as soon as possible, so they take an existing cell with an egg in it and turn it into a queen cell regardless of its location in the hive.

    That description matches an emergency cell, but I've often seen them build queen cups in the middle of the frame with no egg in them and the queen is still laying. These are planned supercedure cells and not emergency cells and they usually eventually tear them back down.

    During swarm preparations the queen stops laying in order to slim down for the flight and the bees fill the brood cells with honey and pollen. Perhaps the swarm cells are on the bottom because there isn't a patch of brood to put them in the middle of? But then I have seen some brood still in the hive with swarm cells on the bottom bars.

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