I know that. Still, I hyperventilated for a moment when we saw these on the bottom of a hive frame during our first hive check. The cells on the bottom of the frame above are drone cells, bigger because the drones take longer to mature than worker bees. Queen cells are larger still, but also frequently on the bottom of the frame (except when they’re supercedure cells, which could be anywhere, but that’s probably more than you want to know right now).
I felt a little stupid for confusing queen cells and drone cells until I checked for online images of both and found this blog post. It’s written by a beekeeper in Ontario and helpfully titled “The Difference Between Drone and Queen Cells.” Turns out she had the same reaction when she first saw drone cells in her hive. There are also lots of pictures of queen cells, something I hope to not see in our hive this year. We’re not ready to split the hive to avoid a swarm, which is basically a beekeeper’s only option if the bees start producing queen cells and s/he doesn’t want to lose half of the hive.
The rest of the hive check went smoothly. We managed to spot the queen (thanks to our Bee Guru’s having marked her), recognized a few drones, and the workers were busy as, well, bees. They were eating well, taking lots of sugar water and still munching on the pollen patties. (They’ve slowed a bit during the week, which makes sense since they seem to be bringing in truckloads of the real stuff.) And we didn’t see any beetles.
Although our girls were hard at work, they weren’t yet ready for a second box of frames, having not gotten beyond the middle frames in their current box. On Monday, we plan to attend a session on hive diagnostics, which will teach us more about what we should be doing on our weekly visits — mostly checking for pests using a variety of tests. After that, our hive checks will be more involved.
Stay tuned for the thrilling details!