I discovered a possible swarm cell in one of my hives about ten minutes ago.
The bottom brood box is full of mostly brood. The top brood box doesn’t show any signs that the queen has moved up there to lay yet. Many of the frames (some of them with plastic foundation) don’t have fully drawn comb on them. I discovered the possible swarm cell while removing a frame feeder and installing two empty frames.
I wonder what I should do now. Hmm… Suggestions?
May 20th, 2011: It’s a queen cup. Some info via extension.org:
- Queen cups are special cup-like precursors of queen cells. They are always present in a bee colony, though their numbers are greatest in the spring months. They are built at the lower margin of beeswax comb (lower margins of frames in a beekeeper’s hive) and in spaces where the comb is damaged or left open as a walkway to the opposite side of the comb.
The queen cup is there in case the colony needs to create a new queen. It doesn’t necessarily mean a swarm is on the way. But I’ll make sure to check the cup during the next inspection.
February 2019 Postscript: Some people destroy queen cups whenever they find them, believing that destroying them will reduce the likelihood of swarming. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t. I look inside queen cups for two things that indicate a swarm might be on the horizon. #1: If I see any eggs or larva in a queen cup, I know the colony is preparing to swarm and it’s going to happen soon. #2: Worker bees will often clean the inside of a queen cup — until it virtually shines — to make it ready for the queen to lay, because the queen won’t lay in a dirty cell. A polished queen cup tells me there’s a chance the bees are preparing to swarm. I wouldn’t see those signs of swarming, and take action to prevent swarming, if I destroyed all the queen cups. So I don’t have any problem with queen cups, but I’m still learning. For a second opinion that I know is more informed than mine, I suggest checking out Rusty Burlew’s little ditty called Queen cups: cut them or leave them?