BBKA Forum

British Beekeepers Association Official Forum 

  • how to choose a queen cell

  • General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
 #7965  by jays_bees_2020
 25 Jun 2020, 21:04
After an artificial swarm, the queen cell i left to grow, was a dud, I had chosen the best looking QC and it was already capped....I am now leaving the hive to produce another queen, does anyone have any good advice as to how to chose a good queen cell, when the time comes
 #7966  by Patrick
 25 Jun 2020, 22:10
You got unlucky.

The conventional wisdom is by picking an open cell you know the larva is ok and also a better handle on when the queen should emerge.

The conventional wisdom is also a well sculpted surface is better than a smooth or unsculpted surface. Not totally convinced of that myself.

The choice of cell is often described in rather absolute terms, when in reality you may have a less obvious choice to make. Sometimes it’s more about actually which ones you don’t choose. I prefer not to choose bent cells, cells drawn in restricted circumstances, outlying positions or disproportionately long or short.

However they are preferences assuming their is an option remaining which is still ok.

If there is a risk of going queenless I strongly prefer making two separate colonies (maybe a nuc) rather than leaving two cells.
 #7967  by Chrisbarlow
 25 Jun 2020, 22:26
I agree with Patrick in open cells where you can see the larva

However if they're all sealed that doesn't help. If they're all sealed I go for an average looking one or not too long and not too short

I might also double my chances and split some bees and brood and a queen cell into a nuc. So then I get two bites of the cherry
 #7968  by AndrewLD
 26 Jun 2020, 09:27
"After an artificial swarm" - so you did this before they swarmed and have the other half with the queen - and therefore a source of eggs / very young open brood? As long as I had that insurance I think I'd have done the same.

I have a colony right now (the queenright half of a split) where the bee inspector and I found the queen and three queen cells on one of the four frames with brood - still building up after the split.
We left all three QC's - I split them because they were about to swarm and my gut says they would have superceded her after swarming so this is supercedure. We'll soon see if our decision was right........
 #7991  by jays_bees_2020
 26 Jun 2020, 21:32
Patrick wrote:
25 Jun 2020, 22:10
You got unlucky.
I got unlucky on 2 occassions, as I had also removed a second sealed QC from the same split and put that into a mating nuc, only to discover that didnt emerge either and the WB were laying..had to shake the whole lot from the nuc.

With both, I had chosen QC's with all the right characteristics, but they were both sealed, so could never have known if the were either full or not, unless I had opened them...this time I will check before the 8th day to chose one that I can see into.
AndrewLD wrote:"After an artificial swarm" - so you did this before they swarmed and have the other half with the queen - and therefore a source of eggs / very young open brood?
Yes, so the first attempt was after the AS, the Qless hive was full of eggs, young brood etc from the split, so it was a great progressing hive that was left to raise their own Q, and in the time it was left for the Q to emerge , mate and lay....majortiy of brood had emerged, and the bees were filling frames with stores, luckily they filled it so much there was no room for a laying worker to get busy in..
The split hive, has the old Q, so that is doing fine, building well after the split, but I have had to move another frame of eggs, brood to the Qless hive for them to they raise another Q, which is where I am at now...time to chose a Q cell
 #7994  by Patrick
 26 Jun 2020, 22:12
Chris rightly nails it- you are usually making a choice from a selection of already capped cells. I suspect that is because for the first few days we often overlook the cell actually being used.

I can’t honestly say I have ever had that many duds, but that may depend on the colonies inherent virus loading. Hence why I think you were pretty unlucky.

With introducing a frame of eggs and larvae you theoretically have a better chance of catching the cells before they are capped. If you find they are still producing duds, I would use another colony or beg a frame from a mate and have a really critical evaluation of your comb brood patterns for issues. Cross fingers it was just an unlucky one off.
 #8007  by nealh
 27 Jun 2020, 12:46
Normally a good dimpled QC of a 20 - 25mm in length is a good bet if no open cells with larvae are available. I recently knocked off the Q of a colony with bad traits and left an approx. 7 day open QC which was sealed on about day 9, when I checked last weekend she had emerged and the bad traits had disappeared. I don't usually bother checking until a few weeks later but had a nice quiet queen/brood & bees available so thought about introducing her/them.
I did find the new VQ and a good job too as she had short very stubby wings so would have been a duffer unable to fly, she was despatched and the new queen and brood united over newspaper on Tuesday.
Next morning a pile of shredded micro paper particles under the hive and all appeared harmonious on the exterior with no signs of any fighting from happening within, I will find out for sure when I inspect next week.
This is the first time I have had a QC with larvae produce a deformed Q so even going down this route doesn't guarantee success though 99% it usually does.
Last edited by nealh on 27 Jun 2020, 12:50, edited 1 time in total.