Finding queen cells in your hive can be very confusing. In this article I am going to break down how to identify what caused your ladies to raise a cell and what to do.
There are four reasons a hive will produce queen cells.
The hive is going to swarm (swarm cell)
The hive is going to replace it queen (supersedure cell).
The hive lost its queen.
the hive just feels like raising queen cells...
The Hive is going to swarm (swarm cell)
Swarming is the bees natural way of reproducing. In the wilde a hive will cast one or two swarms a year. The trigger that start a swarm mainly comes from an overcrowded hive. Splitting is the best solution for taking the swarm out of a hive. Swarm cells are usually near the bottom of the frame. Read our article on preventing swarming here
The hive is going to replace it queen (supersedure cell)
Supercedure cells can be found anywhere on a frame. Usually they are located near the center. This usually happens when the queen is getting old and will fail soon which can be prevented by requeening every couple of years. You should hopefully be able to recognize a failing queen by a spotty brood pattern. In this case simply scrape off the queen cells and kill the old queen a few days before placing the new one in.
The hive lost its queen
This is in emergency situations. These queen cells will be near the center of the frames. The bees will have to go and change a worker cell into a queen cell. If a hive has been queenlees for more than 3 days then it will not have any eggs until a worker begins laying (about 3 weeks after the queen dies) See: laying worker The best thing you can do for the hive is give it a new queen. It also helps to give it some fresh frames of brood to hold it over until you can give it a queen. If you are unable to give it a queen you can let them raise their own. This is not always successful (the queen could get eaten by a bird while mating)
The hive just feels like raising queen cells...
Bees are animals and they do not always read the books... Sometimes they will just raise queen cells out of the blue. In this case just scrape them off. If they are persistent, they will probably be successful in requening themselves.