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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    lewisberry, Pa, usa


    In one of my grafting frames, the bees just seem to be waxing everything as if to make comb. It looks like the queen cells are intact and they have not began to tear them down. I am to place them in nucs tomorrow and needed to find out how many boxes to prepare and took a peak today. Last week there was very nice queen cells started and now its not individual cells, but cells that are connected by comb.

    Is this normal? I have grafted a good number of times and have never seen this? Is this just something that happens from time to time? Is it an indication of something? I would hate to throw them into nucs and find out later they are chilled and/or killed queen cells. Should I test with a light? Any advise? Thank you.

  2. #2


    Excessive comb building around queen cells is typical...especially this time of year. Carefully use a sharp razor blade and leave plenty of wax around the cells as you separate them.

    I place my cells in "nursery bars" as soon as they are sealed (around the fourth or fifth day). The cells still stay nice warm and are not webbed together. There is also no threat from an early emerging queen.

    Check it out by clicking on the link below.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Lincolnton Ga. USA.


    james thats a nice little design, got to try a few of them , whats the measurement detween the bars? and would it be ok to hatch the queens in it? thanks

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Casper, WY


    Hi Guys,

    Always give those wax producing bees something to do in the starter. Include a frame of foundation and that will take care of the webbed cells.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Southern Oregon


    I have also heard that bees will web the cells when they are short on space for incomming nectar, some bare foundation would be an excellent remedy in most cases, but an empty comb will often work to.
    John B Jacob

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Langley, B.C. Canada


    Michael or Jim,

    Is there a SURE way of knowing whether a queen cell is a supersedure cell,a swarm cell or an emergency cell?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    New York City


    I don't think that one can ever make any
    statement about any aspect of swarming with
    100% certainty, but...

    A) Swarm cells are most often found on or near the
    bottom bars of the combs in the uppermost brood

    B) Supersedure queen cells are generally found on
    the "face" of comb in a frame.

    C) Emergency Cells are located like (B), but one
    finds a surprising lack of recently-laid eggs, and
    no evidence of a queen when inspecting the hive.
    Some say that emergency cells are smaller, and
    "look sloppy", but I'm not sure these traits are
    quantifiable enough to use when looking at a
    single cell in isolation unless one has seen
    a large number of queen cells over the years.

    The overall hive condition can tell you more
    about the queen cell than the queen cell itself:

    1) If you see the current queen, you eliminate
    "emergency". Ditto for lots of recent eggs.
    There is a lag between the death of the queen
    and a completed emergency cell.

    2) If the colony is bursting at the seams,
    the cell is type (A), and it is "swarm season",
    this is also a clue. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    3) If the cell is type (B) or (C), and you see
    both eggs and a "spotty" brood pattern of the open
    brood, and/or you know that the queen is 2 years
    old or more, then you likely have a supersedure.

    4) Marked queens and good records can help in
    the above. You should notice a weaker hive
    and a less-than robust laying pattern long
    before the bees decide to reward the queen's
    long and loyal service by giving her a head
    start before they chase her down to kill her.

    Careful inspection of the cells can also tell
    you much. Some lines of bees will build cells
    (even multiple cells at the same time) that look
    like any of (A) (B) or (C), but not complete them.
    They are meaningless, to my knowledge.

    Some cells may LOOK closed, but when the tip is
    touched with a penknife blade, the end will open
    up like the nose of a C5A transport:
    in these cases, the queen has exited the cell,
    and the scenario may have already played out,
    (supercedure, swarm, or queen replacement)

    One could write an entire book on the subject.
    Most all beekeeping books discuss these issues
    to one extent or another, but the diagnosis
    process is inherently gestalt. You need to
    consider all the clues, and everything you know
    about the colony. The cell itself is only one
    clue of many.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Langley, B.C. Canada


    Excellent thank you Jim "good beekeeping is not for dummies"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA


    Jim covered it quite completely.
    Michael Bush "Everything works if you let it." 40y 200h 37yTF


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