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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    grand rapids, michigan
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    Question Queen cup or uncapped drone cell?

    Today I found 3 or 4 cells, all separate from each other, that were drawn out more than the neighboring cells and were round but open. And at least a couple had a larvae at the bottom. They in normal positions on the frame. Not hanging from the bottom of the frame. So queen cups or uncapped drone cells?

    This is in a hive that is struggling. It's in week 5 of a package install. I have not seen the queen in 2 weeks. They stopped taking syrup after 2 weeks. It's has pretty sparse brood patterns but today I was surprised to see one side of one frame almost entirely covered in capped brood. Edge to edge! There is also some open brood with varying stage larvae. Over all not good except for the one frame. They have done better in the last week drawing comb but still no where near my other hive that is doing much better.

    Could they be preparing to supersede?

    Thanks for any ideas.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
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    1,019

    Default Re: Queen cup or uncapped drone cell?

    Drone cells are enlarged workers cells: horizontal like worker cells and raised higher than the surrounding worker cells. Queen cells are vertical and much larger. They can be on the frame but would mostly stick out from the comb. Hope I explained that well. Once you see queen cells, they are obvious.

    If there is a full frame of capped brood, there should also be lot's of cells with open larva and eggs. Check carefully. Once the queen has mated, the number one cause of queen death is the beekeeper crushing the queen. I've done it. Also check for queen cells. They could have already made a new queen or decided to replace the old one. If there are no eggs and open larva at all, and no queen cells, you could give the hive a frame of eggs/very young larva from the other hive and let them make a new queen. There may be a virgin queen in the hive but this would be cheap insurance.
    It's also possible that the hive became hopelessly queenless and some of the workers have become drone layers. But I don't think that usually happens until some time after all worker brood has emerged. If that is the case, give them a frame of some open larva/eggs each week for three weeks and they should make a new queen.
    The main thing to find out is whether there is open worker brood.
    They probably stopped taking syrup because the nectar flow is on and they don't need it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    grand rapids, michigan
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    Default Re: Queen cup or uncapped drone cell?

    Thanks Heaflaw. Yes there is open larvae. Different stages. Light has not been good enough to see eggs. I've looked over all frames well and no queen cells.

    How do you determine if there is open worker brood?

    This hive stopped taking syrup yet my other hive that is stronger contines to take it.

    Thanks in advance for any more insight.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Lincolnton, NC
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    Default Re: Queen cup or uncapped drone cell?

    [QUOTE=frankthomas;962489]Thanks Heaflaw. Yes there is open larvae. Different stages. Light has not been good enough to see eggs. I've looked over all frames well and no queen cells.

    How do you determine if there is open worker brood?

    Open larvae is probably worker brood. If it is not worker, it is drone. Drone brood is always in cells that have been enlarged wider than the original. If the hive is doing well, the queen will lay drone eggs. The queen will lay the drone eggs in a group together almost always to the side of top or bottom of worker eggs. If the queen is not there, workers can lay drone eggs, but it will be in a very scattered pattern here and there. Once you experience it, it is obvious. If you have worker brood, you had a queen at least a few days ago and probably do now.
    Brood is the term for both larva(white) and pupae(capped cells from which will emerge as adult bees).
    Queens can be hard to see, especially once you have a lot of workers.
    I think your hive is probably in good shape. Unless the larvae that you saw was mostly open cells with a few larvae scattered here and there, your queen is doing her job. I would not bother the hive for a week or so and let it grow. If the pattern of open larvae is very scattered, then you may have lost the queen and workers are laying drones eggs.

    I wish I could be there to look at it because sometimes it's hard to describe things well just writing it. Hope that helps.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Queen cup or uncapped drone cell?

    The main difference to distinguish a drone cell from a queen cell is orientation. Even if the drone cell gets build in some odd place by itself, it will be horizontal. No matter where the queen cell is, it will be vertical...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Default Re: Queen cup or uncapped drone cell?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    The main difference to distinguish a drone cell from a queen cell is orientation. Even if the drone cell gets build in some odd place by itself, it will be horizontal. No matter where the queen cell is, it will be vertical...
    Michael:

    Can you help FrankThomas determine whether he has a queen or laying workers, etc. You can explain it much better than I can.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    grand rapids, michigan
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    Default Re: Queen cup or uncapped drone cell?

    Thank you Heaflaw and Michael for the expert advice.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Queen cup or uncapped drone cell?

    A hive that is queenless as it develops more and more laying workers goes through these stages:

    1) at first the egg police keep up and there are no eggs in the worker cells, but an occasional scattered (not all adjacent) larvae here and there. Often at this stage there will be a couple of queen cells, usually with multiple eggs in them, but otherwise you may not see multiple eggs.

    2) as the laying workers keep increasing the egg police can't keep up and the cells get many eggs in them. Sometimes dozens. This is especially noticeable in drone cells and on top of pollen. There are more but still scattered larvae and the few (also scattered) cells that are capped are drones (caps like a kix cereal piece). Usually by this point there are no queen cells anymore. I assume the number of laying workers combined now make enough pheromones that they no longer see themselves as queenless.

    If you add eggs and larvae at the first stage, they usually will start queen cells immediately. If you add them at the second stage, they may need them again in a week and again in a week before enough laying workers are suppressed to make them want to raise a queen.

    http://bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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