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Discussion Starter #1
Title says it all.

I have hives with Queen cells and I don't know when they were capped. I noticed then when checking frames. Will lifting a frame have killed them? Is it OK to carefully lift a frame to check on them?

Same question re fragile virgin Queens.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
On the Queen rearing calendar page they say they are very sensitive for a few days...I was wondering just how sensitive they Re. I have tried not to look into the hive for a couple of weeks once I see Queen cells but as I don't know how old they are I wondered if I had doomed them when I first saw them?
 

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Gleaned from Morse - "Rearing Queen Honey Bees":

"Often even slightly jarring an immature queen cell will kill the developing pupa."
Otherwise damage to legs, wings and especially antennae may also occur. Cells should be held in the natural vertical position. He refers to days 9-14, leaving only the first, and last two days that the cell is capped as being "safe". Pretty much all of the pupal development stage.

My guess is you're alright as long as you lifted it and didn't lay it on it's side. I've read others who say the cells aren't that fragile as long as you avoid bumping and jarring (or shaking, of course). Good luck.
 

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It takes a bit of experience but a very gentle squeeze gives a pretty good indication of whether they are newly capped (very soft) or a more mature cell which has a tougher underlying cocoon. Certainly newly capped cells are the most fragile of all. Any age of cell can be gently turned horizontal but I wouldn't suggest doing any more handling than is absolutely necessary. I hate to have any age of cell subjected to sharp jarring or shaking motions. I know a leading queen raiser who hauls his ripe cells around on a warm water bladder similar to a miniature waterbed.
 

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If you found the cells wait a couple of days and then take a peek. always remove the outboard frame first, then after freeing the next frame slide it outboard slightly to prevent scrubbing the cells while lifting. This method also reduces risk of rolling a queen. If the queen in the cell was damaged it is a guess, if she was killed the workers will tear the cell down.
 

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I don’t know if I have internal damage but I take a quick look then shake the frame. The ones with capped QC go to the queen castle with a frame of bees. I have been letting them in the same spot but the last two times I have put them in a nuc and brought them home. I have had only one so far not mated out of 12. I check them 10 days after putting them above the excluder.
 

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According to our mentor, who has been harvesting queen cells recently, they're fairly delicate and he thinks they don't tolerate chilling well. He also says they should be kept in their original orientation as much as possible, and that incubating them upside down will kill them.

How true? I have no clue. 8 our of 10 of the last batch survived to emerge from their cells in our new incubator (holds temperature very well). A previous incubator intended for eggs had excessive temperature swings and all the cells died.

If what he says is true, shipping by mail would probably be lethal.
 

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This is my interpretation of the logic and discussion:

Queens cells are relatively delicate during most of the pupal development (capped) stage, more precisely-days 9-14 of the 8-16.
Jarring may kill or deform the pupa.
Deformed queens may mate, but a deformed wing may the ability to fly and be mated "properly".
Deformed legs may inhibit their ability to move about and lay efficiently.
Deformed antennae will likely inhibit their ability to consistently find proper cells to lay in.
Deformed queens are much more likely to be superceded.
Using any capped queen cells of unknown age, which may have been accidentally mishandled, carries those inherent risks.
Handling any frame with queen cells in the gentle usual fashion that all frames should be handled, poses very minimal risk.
If I've just shaken the bees off of a frame of brood, or bumped or jarred the frame, any capped queens cells I find are may not be worth any further effort other than to be cut out.

Experienced queen breeders, naturally, have developed a sense for this.

Novice queen rearers (such as myself) would do best to exercise great care when handling any capped queen cell that isn't either recently capped or about to emerge, or is of unknown age. If I handle all my brood frames as though they have queen cells, the bees are much more forgiving of my intrusions, and I run little risk of trying to utilize any capped queen cell I may find.
 
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