The 4 stages to queen cells

When a beehive wishes to create a new queen - whether it is for supersedure or in order to swarm – they never produce just the one. Often ten to fifteen queens will be reared at a time. Creating a queen takes 16 days, and there is quite an evolution from egg to queen.

Understanding the four stages in queen cell development will help you understand how serious your colony is about rearing a new queen. So here they are:

  1. A queen cup
  2. A queen cup is just the beginning and, does not contain an egg or a larvae. It is not necessarily a sign that the colony wants to produce a queen, because they constantly keep them as a backup.

  1. Open queen cell
  2. An open queen cell is between 2 and 4 days old. It contains royal jelly, which means that an egg has been deposited! Worker bees will soon cover the cell with wax so that the young larvae can perform its metamorphosis into a virgin queen.

  3. Capped queen cell
  4. A capped queen cell contains a queen that could emerge at any moment. When it is at the bottom of a frame, it looks a lot like a peanut shell. It is a lot longer than drone brood, and always pointing downward. With a bit of practice, you will be able to distinguish them.

  1. Emerged queen cell
  2. An emerged queen cell looks exactly like a capped queen cell, except that it has been chewed through at the top by the virgin queen that developed within it. The bees eventually remove it, and will never reuse a queen cell more than once.
Now that these stages are clearly laid out, and that you can distinguish between the two different types of queen cells, your next step is to follow the 6 steps to swarm prevention.
A capped queen cell contains a queen that could emerge at any moment.
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