A queen cell discovered

Yesterday Paul came and helped me inspect my hive, as I hadn’t had a look since August 18th and was nervous of the cross-combing problem! We found various things of interest. I have described before how the bees are building honeycomb (ie wider) on the end of each bar furthest from their side entrance, necessitating adding shims to prevent bulging on to the next bar. This time we simply prised each bar apart, allowing the extra shim(s) to adhere where necessary. Not ideal but it seemed OK and meant we didn’t have to cut combs apart. The bees were calm. We didn’t see the queen but there were uncapped larvae present so she must have been there recently.
We noticed the bees are avoiding building comb around one of the dowelling “posts” which I added to the bars to give stability to the combs (see photo). Has anyone else noticed happening this (if they have followed this idea)?

Then we found a capped queen cell! And we are wondering what is likely to happen next? Are they planning to abscond? I am pretty sure my queen is this year’s, as the swarm I got at the end of May was small, so must have been a cast. There were some drones present, but not very many. Why would they make a queen cell – can anyone shed light on this for me? I will (try to) upload a photo.

I have also, today, given them a big jar of thick syrup – their stores are pretty light so far so they obviously need a boost.

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One Response to A queen cell discovered

  1. Paul says:

    Observations:
    – It is an emergency queen cell (it is in the middle of a comb not the edge). So it is unlikely to be supersedure.
    – The purpose of the inspection was primarily to solve a cross-combing issue, as Hunneybun realised there was something awry – she could never seem to get the spacing right to revent this. On taking the roof off, it was evident that the spacers were much wider than on my own hives, but we didn’t grasp the pattern immediately (loads of space at one end of a bar – little at the other, and a bit of bridging.)
    – Helen’s TBH uses side entrances. It struck us that this was leading to the colony building (thin) brood comb near the entrance – at one end of the bars – and (thick) honeycomb at the “far end of the hive”, i.e. the other end of the bars away from the entrance. They are building their colony across the hive instead of along it, leading to asymmetric combs which are too thick for the bars at one end. I do not see this in my TBH’s which have end entrances: the colony still builds the honeycomb at the rear of the nest, furthest from the entrance, but each individual comb is the same thickness all the way through.
    – The issue with the bees building around the reinforcing dowel rather than incorprating it into the comb is secondary. They incorporated some dowels, generally trying to steer the comb past them, but were usually forced to build the comb into the dowels to maintain bee space from the next comb over. There was a definite aversion to having a dowel in the middle of the comb, perhaps because it will force some cells to be below optimum size, but the major problem was the combs being different thicknesses at each end of a bar.

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