View Full Version : Queen cell size

Jul 3rd 2011, 07:20 AM
With a few years of beekeeping behind me now - I have had the opportunity to watch hives supersede their queens a few times. I have noticed that, often, the size of the queen cells produced varies.

Some cells are very typical: large, hanging off of the comb, etc. Other cells produced though are smaller - almost like really large drone cells. They hang down only a bit or not at all.

Sometimes I see these kinds of cells on the same frame as a typical 'good' cell. Other times, these shortened cells have been the only ones that get drawn out.

My question is: Do these differences in cell size say anything about the quality of the future queen? Is the cell size a result of available resources, numbers of bees, etc. that then reflects on how good the queen is that emerges from the cell?



Jul 3rd 2011, 09:08 AM
I have only one experience of certainty so far concerning this issue. i created a nuc using a single queen cell on a frame, see a photo of the QC, close to being capped, here:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1tPkd9RnUqo/T ... rame-1.jpg (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1tPkd9RnUqo/TdF6qzhEyyI/AAAAAAAADS4/fMYuiBTkcd8/s1600/cellframe-1.jpg)
As you can see, that QC was not particularly big, compared to the size of the workers. In fact, I had big doubts about whether she'd be any good. That cell was actually what you'd call an 'emergency queen cell' since they created it in response to my removing the old queen.

Well the new queen from that cell wound up being normal sized and is now laying in brood literally wall to wall in that nuc- I keep taking out frames of brood & eggs to help other hives create queens, and she just keeps filling up new empty frames with new brood. She's a real laying machine, which is why I'm using her eggs to re-queen two of my other hives. :)

Jul 3rd 2011, 02:24 PM
It looks like Omie hit the Jackpot with the queen she got. Snelgrove, in his classic book on Queen Rearing emphasizes the importance of the strength of the hive that rears the queen and the ample, uninterrupted supply of food supplied the larvae from the start. Whereas he shows the specially well-fed (double grafted) queen larvae tend to be in larger cells, his pictures show considerable variation in the size of the cells that result from queens raised at the same time in the same hive. With that, and Omie's report in mind, It seems that size of the queen cell is of secondary importance.

Jul 3rd 2011, 03:52 PM
efmesch, I know what grafting is, but what does 'double grafted' mean?

Jul 3rd 2011, 04:23 PM
double grafting Omie was a topic that had some appeal 30 or so years ago. the idea is you graft and get a good pool of royal jelly deposited and then you remove the larvae and regraft into the existing pool of royal jelly. like I said it was pretty much the rage 30 years ago, but like a lot of things it's worth didn't prove to be worth the effort <ie I don't think it actually produced a better queen.

queen cells will vary in size. just looking at a cell 'visually' queen cells drawn from 'worker eggs' will appear to have the greatest variation. this (I think?) depends on the location of the larvae and on how much royal jelly is produced to float the larvae out so that the queen cell can be properly constructed. with grafted cells within a give batch there can also be size variation... this (again I think?) fall more along efmesch explanation concerning the condition and nutrition of the hive rearing the cell.

as far as I can tell (I am speaking purely of grafted cells here) there is little relationship between the size of the queen cell and the size or value of the queen that is issued from that cell. that is within bounds size seems to matter little. typically I am more concerned (ie more likely to cull) a odd shaped over sized queen cell than a small queen cell.