Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?
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  1. #1
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    Default Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    Has anyone ever actually photographed a queen laying in a queen cell? Or is it a case of workers shuffling eggs? The books say queens lay in queen cups but where's the evidence....

    And hi everyone from wintery Wales (where the bees were flying til the end of January!).

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    I have seen them do it, queens lay in queen cell cups - natural ones. Unfortunately I wasn't prepared and did not get a photo or video of it.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    I have seen a queen lay in a queen cup in my observation hive. Huber "watched" it with Francis Burnens:

    "I admit that Mr. de Réaumur does not say any-where that he had seen the queen lay in the royal cell; however he had no doubt of this, and after all my obser-vations I see that he had guessed correctly. It is quite certain that, at certain times of the year, the bees prepare royal cells, that the queens lay in them, and that from these eggs worms hatch which become queens."

    "The females do not wait, to lay in them, until they are at full size; we have surprised several depositing the egg, when the cell was only as an acorn cup;"--Francis Huber, New Observations Upon Bees, Letter 4
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    Quote Originally Posted by ecobee View Post
    Or is it a case of workers shuffling eggs?
    You don't really think that workers shuffle eggs, do you? Since you asked, where's the evidence?
    Mark Berninghausen

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    You don't really think that workers shuffle eggs, do you? Since you asked, where's the evidence?
    Thank you Joseph & Michael.

    I don't indeed. I know they police them and remove diploid drone eggs - because a body of scientists I trust say it's so. Also that those I know of here who have found a few eggs above the queen excluder and claim they must have been moved have never checked the integrity and measurements of their excluder to see it's correctly spaced all over and the measurements of their queen to see she's not small and sneaking up. But some photographic evidence would be good.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    On bees moving eggs:

    I've watched bees in my observation hive for years. I've never seen them move an egg. Huber also looked for them to move eggs and no matter how he stacked things to give them a reason to, they never did.

    "Bees Are Not Entrusted With the Care of Transporting Eggs

    "Permit me, Sir, to digress a moment from my subject, to narrate to you an Experiment, the result of which seems interesting. I said that the bees are not entrusted with the care of transporting eggs, misplaced by their queen, into convenient cells; and even judging by the sole fact which I mention here, you will think me well entitled to deny this feature of their industry. However, since several writers have affirmed the contrary and have even claimed our admiration of workers in conveying the eggs, I must prove to you clearly that they are mistaken.

    "I had a glass hive constructed of two stories: I filled the upper story with combs of large cells and the lower with combs of small cells. These two stories were separated from one another with a sort of division or diaphragm which left on each side a sufficient space for the passage of the workers from the one story to the other, but too narrow for the queen. I stocked this hive with a good number of bees, and confined in the upper story a very prolific female that had just lately finished her great laying of male eggs. Therefore, this female had only worker eggs to lay; she was compelled to deposit them in large cells, since there were none of the other sort about her. You will divine, sir the aim which I proposed in thus disposing matters. My reasoning was very simple. If the queen lays worker eggs in the large cells and if the workers are charged with transporting them when misplaced, they would not fail to take advantage of the liberty allowed them to pass from one story to the other; they would seek the eggs deposited in large cells and carry them to the lower story, containing the cells suitable for them. If, on the contrary, they left the worker eggs in the large cells, I should obtain certain proof that they are not entrusted with transporting them.

    "The result of this experiment excited my curiosity deeply. We watched the queen of this hive and her bees, for several days in succession, with sustained attention. During the first 24 hours, the queen obstinately refused to lay a single egg in the large cells which surrounded her; she examined them one after another, but passed on without insinuating her belly within any of them: she seemed restless, distressed; she traversed the combs in all directions; the weight of her eggs appeared to burden her, but she persisted in withholding them rather than deposit them in the cells of unsuitable diameter. Her bees, however, did not cease to pay her homage and treat her as a mother. I even saw, with pleasure, that when she approached the edges of the partition which separated the two stories, she gnawed them to try to enlarge the passage; the workers also labored with their teeth, and made efforts to enlarge the entrance to her prison, but ineffectually. On the second day, the queen could no longer retain her eggs, they escaped in spite of her; she dropped them at random. Yet we found 8 or 10 of them in cells, but they had disappeared the following day. We then conceived that the bees had transported them into the lower cells, we sought them with the greatest care; but I can assure you that there was not a single one there. On the 3rd day the queen again laid a few eggs, which disappeared as the first. We again sought them in the small cells but they were not there.

    "They Sometimes Eat the Eggs

    "The fact is that the workers eat them, and that is what deceived the former observers who claim that they transport them. They noted the disappearance of the misplaced eggs from the cells, and without further investigation asserted that the bees place them elsewhere; they take them indeed, but not to transfer them; they eat them.

    "Thus Nature has not entrusted the bees with the care of placing the eggs in appropriate cells; but she has given the females themselves enough instinct to know the nature of the egg which they are about to lay and to place it in a suitable cell. Mr. de Réaumur had already observed this, and in this my observations agree with his. It is therefore certain that, in the natural state, when fecundation had been timely and the queen has not suffered from any circumstance, she does not err in the choice of the different cells in which she is to deposit her eggs: she does not fail to lay those of workers in the small cells and those of males in the large cells.—I am speaking here, Sir, of what happens in natural conditions.—This distinction is important, for we do not find the same unerring instinct, in the behavior of females whose mating has been too long delayed; they make no selection of cells in which they are to lay. This fact is so true, that I often made mistakes on the kinds of eggs that they were laying; when I saw them lay indistinctively in both small and large cells, I thought that the eggs laid in the small cells were worker eggs: I was thus very much surprised at the time of their transformation into nymphs, to see them close up the cells with convex cappings, exactly similar to those that they place upon the cells of males: they were, in fact, males; those that were born in large cells became large drones.—I warn those who wish to repeat my experiments upon queens laying only male eggs, that they must expect to see those queens deposit drone eggs in worker cells."--Francis Huber, New Observations Upon Bees, 3rd Letter
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    Interesting post Michael and I did indeed mean eat by remove.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    I have to bump this thread back into the active group since this topic just came up in our bee club this month. The club president, who is a VA certified master beekeeper (so you'd think he's be well read on bees) stated emphatically that the workers always move the eggs into the swarm cells, and that the queen doesn't lay them there. That was a new "theory" to me, and I consider myself to be well read on bee biology. He said he was just going through his hives with the state bee inspector and they came across queen cups with nothing in them, and he remarked to her "the workers haven't moved the eggs yet". She "ahuhed" the comment so he feels like she was agreeing with him.

    I asked this guy for some source text or research on this idea. He said it was talked about in many entomology text books, but he couldn't think of where he had read it. The other club officers spoke out to say they couldn't find any immediate sources to support the claim, and they were able to find Michael Bush's answer (as stated above). I've contacted some of the current bee researchers to see if they know of any studies that have been done since this 2012 thread, and they don't seem to know of any.

    Does anyone else have additional info on this? I know we all have "opinions", but I'd like to see research studies if there are any. Personally, I think it's a bit crazy to say that a queen doesn't lay the eggs in the queen cells. We allow that she lays the rest of the eggs in the hive, but somehow they think it is beyond her ability or will to lay in the queen cups for a swarm.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    I think this is a bl##dy good question, because - if she does lay in a queen cup - how come she lays a fertilised egg in such a large diameter cell, and not an unfertilised (drone) egg ?
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    I notice that queen cups are the only ROUND cells in the hive? I wonder if this plays a part in the egg laying decision?
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    swarm cups are also hanging down instead of sideways, like a drone cell. Might positioning also make a difference in her knowing. And has anyone measured a queen cup to a drone cell. Is the queen cell even bigger?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    If it was possible I would think we would see some sign of it; in queenless cut down splits or even laying worker hives where they try to make queens with drone eggs.

    But anytime you have a sudden queenless situlation you never find eggs in cups only emergeny cells unless they were planning to swarm already.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    >stated emphatically that the workers always move the eggs into the swarm cells, and that the queen doesn't lay them there.

    So far as I know no one has EVER seen workers move an egg and anchor it into another cell. It is merely speculation to even say it ever happens. As far as I know Huber (Francis Burnens) and I are not the only people to actually observe a queen laying in a queen cell. I'm pretty sure a lot of people have. I will state emphatically, that there is NO direct evidence or actual observation that bees move eggs to queen cells.

    Queen cells are vertical. That obviously has an effect on her perception of what to lay in that cell.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    I notice that queen cups are the only ROUND cells in the hive? I wonder if this plays a part in the egg laying decision?
    I got tons of ROUND cells in my hives.
    Heck, just about half of the cells are round, very roughly put.
    Like these worker cells:
    RoundBeeCells2.jpg
    Or like these drone cells:
    20190209_173913_Mod.jpg
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    My turn to be corrected. Brain went on vacation, not sure if it is back yet.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    Anyway, the queens know their business (unlike some "master beekeepers").

    Incidentally, today watched how a queen was laying.
    She did not care a bit about me watching.
    Just regular worker cell business, of course.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    I thought the reason bees built Queen cups and moved on was so the Queen still could reach the bottom of the cell. Only after the egg is deposited does the work on the cell continue. If workers moved eggs, why wouldn't they build a full length cell before moving an egg into it?

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Queen cells are vertical. That obviously has an effect on her perception of what to lay in that cell.
    I don't think it's obvious at all ... my money would be on the bees coercing the queen to lay in that cup (after all, she doesn't lay in 'play cups' at other times), and they could well influence her (somehow ?) to lay a fertilised egg at the same time.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    The trigger for her to lay in queen cups is a reduction in the amount of her pheromones returned to her in the food loop.

    One of the videos posted on YouTube from the National Honey Show had the information. I think it may have been one of C. Collison's presentations.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Do Queens lay in Queen Cups?

    >after all, she doesn't lay in 'play cups' at other times

    I often find an egg in a "play cup" and it's gone the next day or so. I think she often does lay in them and then they remove them.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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