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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One and a half month ago I caught a swarm, and the queen started laying on drawn foundation. I left the bees on their own for the last month, and when I checked them last week, I saw about the same amount of bees (2 1/2 deep frames). When I pulled the middle frame out, I saw 3 very long queen cells in the middle of the frames. I've never seen so long cells before. A beekeeper friend suggested that maybe the queen has failed, or there are laying workers who lay drones, and the bees are trying to raise one of them into a queen. Of course, they will not succeed. The question is this: how can I tell if these queen cells are of a queen, or of a drone? I have given them 2 frames of capped brood to boost their numbers up.
Thanks a lot,
Stavros
 

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I had a laying worker hive and they never tried making a queen from the brood as they were happy with what they thought was good brood. Obviously that wasn't the case. I would say if you had a queen, they are probably superceding her....but thats my guess.
 

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>A beekeeper friend suggested that maybe the queen has failed, or there are laying workers who lay drones, and the bees are trying to raise one of them into a queen . . .

1. It is possible your queen IS failing . . . that could cause the bees to raise a new queen.

2. When a hive has "laying workers", because hive has BEEN queenless for a while, the unfertilized workers lay eggs that develop ONLY into dones. The eggs are laid in "regular" EXISTING worker cells. Not in anything that looks like a queen cells.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your replies. Let me see if I get this right. Suppose a hive goes queenless for a while, or the queen is failing, and a laying worker starts laying drone eggs. Do the bees try to raise some of the drone eggs into a queen, using longer than usual queen-cells? Thanks a lot,
Stavros
 

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Bees do NOT use drone eggs for making queens.

When unfertilized eggs are laid (by failing queen or by laying workers) in worker-size cells, the larger-than-worker drone pupa cause the cappings to be raised (cell height is increased because drone is larger). Some say they look like "bullets".
 

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Not the xpert here but I've had a few laying workers hives. If there is a laying worker,,there will patchy spots of drone brood when capped looks like a 22 bullet..raised not flat. Eggs will not be all the way down in the cell and often multiple eggs. If you do not see those indications,,,I'm betting those are queen cells. I would give it some time and let them hatch,,,,you really have nothing to loose at this point IMO

Rick SoMd
 

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Bees do NOT use drone eggs for making queens.

When unfertilized eggs are laid (by failing queen or by laying workers) in worker-size cells, the larger-than-worker drone pupa cause the cappings to be raised (cell height is increased because drone is larger). Some say they look like "bullets".
It's true that most unfertilized eggs laid by laying workers, in worker cells are raised into small drones with extended, bullet-shaped cappings. Though every once in awhile I've had laying worker colonies create a few emergency queen cells from the drone larva produced by laying worker eggs. I have verified this by opening the queen cells to find drone pupa. If left alone I find that these queen cells with drone larva/pupa are usually aborted before the drones mature, so I've never had mature drones raised in queen cells.

The first time this happened, I saw queen cells being produced in a laying worker colony and thought, "good, soon they will have a queen", but a few days after these cells should have emerged, and they hadn't, I opened one and was shocked to discover a drone pupa.

I think I've also read about this happening in some of the vintage queen rearing books, available at Michael Bush's web site.
 

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JC
That's amazing,,,,,Do you think there is a "desperation" time line where this occurs,,or is it just like you say,,,,every once in a while because.

Rick SoMd
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dear Joseph,
Thanks for your reply--I think this is exactly the case that my beekeeper friend was referring to. Since I do not know how old are my queen cells, I'll wait for 16 days and then check to see if they are empty/pierced. If so, I may have a virgin queen around. If the cells are still capped, I'll remove them and open them up to see what's inside. In case I am dealing with a hive with drone brood only, I'll combine them with another hive. I have nothing to loose by waiting 16 days.
Stavros
 

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Stavros,

That's just what I did the first time I saw queen cells started in a laying worker hive.

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It happens so rarely, it's likely a rare combination of genetics and several other variables that bring it about.
 

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Stavros,

Your friend is correct. Out of complete desperation workers will sometimes attempt to raise queens from unfertilized eggs. The resulting cells tend to be very long and slender when compared to normal queen cells.

I noticed this years ago and out of curiosity, grafted drone larvae into queen cell cups to confirm my suspicions.

Joe
 

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Bees can get it wrong to!:)
this summer i removed my queen and put her and some frames in a nuc, so the hive could make a new queen.
well ,one of the cells was build on my droneframe (for varroa control) and when i opened it there was a drone inside and it is strange that the bees made a queen cell here because they had 10 other frames with brood to chose from.
 

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I have a nuc on the side yard that sounds very similar. It's looking like a failing queen or a laying worker and there is a weird looking queen cell on the frame, it almost looks like a 2 1/2" straw coming down from the frame and it's sealed. I'm waiting to see what happens with this. If it doesn't work, I'll just add the bees to another colony.

C2
 

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every once in awhile I've had laying worker colonies create a few emergency queen cells from the drone larva produced by laying worker eggs. I have verified this by opening the queen cells to find drone pupa. If left alone I find that these queen cells with drone larva/pupa are usually aborted before the drones mature, so I've never had mature drones raised in queen cells.

The first time this happened, I saw queen cells being produced in a laying worker colony and thought, "good, soon they will have a queen", but a few days after these cells should have emerged, and they hadn't, I opened one and was shocked to discover a drone pupa.

I think I've also read about this happening in some of the vintage queen rearing books, available at Michael Bush's web site.
Thanx Joe . . . Good Info!!!!
 
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