Every beehive only has one queen. She controls everything; the productivity, the location, even the overall mood. But in nature, there are predators; hungry birds, rival hornets, spiderwebs… So what occurs if the queen gets killed or dies?
Bees create special elongated cells for creating a new queen. These cells are filled with a substance known as “Royal Jelly” that can transform a regular bee larvae into a new queen. If the queen dies a worker bee places an egg in a queen cell containing royal jelly, then seals it off to incubate the egg.
In the meantime the hive goes into a survival mode and can get depressed without their leader present.
Queen cells being present in a hive can be an indication that the hive may be about to swarm. In the event of a swarm, the current queen will leave with the majority of the bees from the hive in search of a new home, leaving behind a skeleton crew of bees to maintain the old hive and hatch a new queen. Some beekeepers will cut these cells out of their wax comb to prevent this from occurring.
Swarm cells are pretty rare to see, so I thought it would be cool to share some photos from the time my hive swarmed.
Interested in becoming a beekeeper? Check out this post on the supplies you’ll need to get started.