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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Chippew County, WI, USA

    Default Handling queen cells: 5th and 11th day

    You are not supposed to handle queens cells (at least its best not to) other than on the 5th or 11th day after grafting. The 11th day is when the queen is nearly finished and ready to hatch so this is the obvious reason why you can handle it. Now how about the 5th day after grafting or right after being capped? Why is this a safe time? Im pretty sure this is when the cell is plumb full of royal jelly and the grub is still quite small. It this why it is safe to handle the cell at this point? The grub is more or less in a sealed shock absorbing cell? The royal jelly is actually like jelly at this stage as well is it not? I mean the royal jelly seems more pasty then runny from what I have seen at that stage unless it has been simply odd circumstances that have led me to this observation.

    Also not that I would use a queen cell from a broken open cell but will bees ever repair a queen cell that is ripped open exposing the larva if the larva is not damaged and would it turn into a quality queen? Im just curious as I always wonder this when I tip up a hive body hoping not to find queen cells and instead I find cells and some ripped open with a grub in paste that appears undamaged itself other than its life support bubble has been burst. I always feel like some kind of murder when I destroy a nice fat queen cell.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Default Re: Handling queen cells: 5th and 11th day

    I have been led to believe that once the queen has turned round, facing down and no longer consuming jelly, then it is safe to handle.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Herrick, SD USA

    Default Re: Handling queen cells: 5th and 11th day

    Perhaps someone who has studied this can give a more specific answer to the question of exactly when they are most easily damaged. What I have heard is that about day 8 and 9 is when the wings are developing and any sharp jarring motion may lead to a damaged wing and a resulting virgin unable to mate. I think it is prudent to handle all capped cells with extreme care until they have had five full days after capping to mature. Your question about whether a damaged queen cell can be repaired is pretty hard to answer as it assumes all damage is the same. I consider them worthless to the extent that I wouldn't want to count on them.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Kingston, Kingston, Jamaica

    Default Re: Handling queen cells: 5th and 11th day

    I'v heard that 5 days after grafting is too early.
    My personal experience is that I moved two queen cells at 3 days after being capped (that's would be approx. 7 days after grafting if I had grafted newly hatched larvae), and a day later, the queenless hive had opened the cells and destroyed the larvae. I can only assume that the major reason is that I had damaged the larvae during the process, and I was extremely careful I might add.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Tucson, Arizona, USA

    Default Re: Handling queen cells: 5th and 11th day

    Queen cells unexpectedly being destroyed, has happened to me more often than I'd like to admit. But, every time it was due to a virgin, in residence, that I had somehow overlooked. Or one that had migrated there -- which happens too often for my taste, usually from AHB colonies sending out usurpation swarms.

    It is possible that these cells were naturally aborted, possibly by defective or damage to the cells, but I'm going to suspect a virgin, unless otherwise proven.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 08-25-2012 at 12:41 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
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