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Supersedure vs Swarm Cells

July 31, 2020

Supersedure vs Swarm Cells

As a beekeeper, you need to learn the difference between swarm cells and supersedure cells. Right now it is swarm season in Alberta, and it’s important to know the difference between these two, and why your bees might be creating these cells. Here we give you a brief overview of the difference and what to look for in your hives.

Every beekeeper’s goal is to have a surplus of honey they can harvest, so you need to manage your hive and understand when you should worry, and when it’s part of the hive’s survival.

Queen cells are exactly what they sound like, they are a cell with larvae that will produce a new queen. They are typically long in length (up to one inch), have a rough surface and are shaped like a peanut shell. There are two reasons hives create these cells.

  1. Replacing the queen. The queen is either ill, aging, died and/or not creating enough brood to keep up with the colony increasing as it should be. A new queen will be established to take over her roll in laying eggs.
  1. Swarming. The colony has decided that the colony is too big for it’s space, and it will create a new queen to stay in the hive while half of the hive will find another home with the current queen.

Supersedure cells are created to replace a queen that is aging, ill or dead. The queen is not giving enough pheromone off or laying enough eggs. The bees will often create more than one supersedure cell, and the first queen to emerge is usually the new queen. These cells are usually created on the surface of the frame and hanging down.

Emergency cells make them when suddenly there are is no queen and need to replace her quickly. The bees will turn worker larvae into queen cells by feeding them royal jelly. These can be found on comb area with brood and larvae only a few days old, and usually on the face of the comb.

Swarm cells are usually created along the edges or bottom of frames. Again, these cells are created when the bees feel they are running out of room.

Make sure your bees have room this summer! It's important your bees have enough room to grow the hive during the main flow. Hope your 2020 season is going well!





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