I am really pleased to receive emails suggesting topics for my weekly reminders. The latest suggestion was to talk about queen cells.

As these are starting to appear in our hives, this is a reminder to new beekeepers not to tear them down on first sight but to look at where on the comb they are. Queen cells in the middle of the frame rather than on the bottom edge may indicate supersedure rather than the intention to swarm. The current queen may have failed or died and destroying these cells may be the kiss of death to the hive. 
 
If you have lots of queen cells then a really close inspection is required, being careful in your handling of the frames containing them. Are there fewer bees than you expected to see?  Has the colony swarmed?  This will only have happened if there is one or more sealed queen cells in the hive as the original queen will not leave until this is the case.  Swarming is their way of maintaining the species. 
 
Next, assess which ones you want to keep.   How many cells are there?  Are they sealed or charged (charged means containing a larva floating in royal jelly)?  Do any of them look stunted or short - which could indicate a small queen. Do you need a queen for a queenless colony or do you want to create a nucleus/nuclei?  Lots of questions to be asked and decisions to be made.
 

Any cells not required should be removed from the colony.

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