Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 2 of 2 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
382 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can someone please explain/describe the differences between worker, drone, queen, swarm cells? Pictures showing the different types would also be helpful if anyone has some or knows of a good link. In many of these forums, people discuss the various types of cells but as a beginner this May, I don't know exactly what to look for.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,017 Posts
The honeycomb is perhaps the most familiar construct associated with bees and with good reason. Bees know how to make the shape the same way they know the changing of the seasons – it was written into their instincts before the dawn of man. Six sided with a dimpled bottom, they are near perfect for efficiency of material and strength of construction. They are versatile as well.

The basic honeycomb cell is about 5.1mm wide (if drawn on foundation). That doesn’t mean they all are though, and it’s the diameter of the cell that determines what it is fit for. Near the top of my cells my bees draw massive mutant cells and stock them full of honey. They may be a full frame deep on each side and they are so wide they dwarf even the drone cells. Drone cells are the next largest. I can’t tell you exactly what size they should be but they are easy to spot among the smaller worker cells. Bees can tell the sex of a larva just by scent. No matter how much I sniff a frame of open larva I cannot, so I wait and look at the capping. Their bullet shaped cappings give them away once the brood are capped. Midway down the comb the bees draw worker cells en mass. What size are these? Lots of sizes. My “large” bees drew tiny worker cells and average worker cells. Some 4.9 mm (measuring inside diameter) and some 5.1 mm (despite a lack of foundation). The bees didn’t seem to mind the variance, and happily raised workers in each of these.

Now, about queen cups, supersedure cells and swarm cells. Queens (except for emergency queens) are raised in cells that begin as tiny volcanoes that protrude from the wax. At the tip the volcano has a wax marble, but a inspection of the underside of the marble reveals that it is hollow. I do not know the diameter of the queen cell or if its sides are hexagonal, perhaps others do. The position of this “Queen Cup” and its number determines if it is a supersedure cell or a swarm cell.

Supersedure cells are few in number and located high in the brood nest, safe and warm. Swarm cells hang from the lower edges of the frames in most cases. Keep in mind however that bee literacy is at an all time low, and while you might know this the bees might not. If you find twenty queen cups with larva high in the brood nest, think swarm.
 
1 - 2 of 2 Posts
Top