Navigate / search

A cup fit for a queen

I just found this fantastic photograph of a queen cup and I wanted to share it with you. These cups are built by the bees on the surface of the comb. The bees select a regular cell as a base and then enlarge it. If the queen lays an egg in one of these cups it can be expanded into a long peanut-shaped queen cell. Otherwise, it goes unattended.

The bees may build one or dozens of these throughout the hive, the number being dependent on the bees’ genetics. After a while, the bees may tear down an empty cup and use the wax elsewhere, or they may just leave it alone.

Although most queen cups remain empty, some will be used to raise supersedure queens (queens reared to replace the existing queen) or swarm cells if the colony is preparing to swarm. Supersedure cells are generally built on the face of the comb while swarm cells are usually placed along the bottom edge of the comb.

Thanks to Max xx for this great photo of a queen cup. This photo made the cover of l’Abeille de France et l’apiculteur in 2006.

Queen cup. Flickr photo by Max xx.



Editor’s note: The link above from shows a completed queen cell. This is what a queen cup would look like if an egg where laid in the cup and the workers proceeded to raise it as a queen.

Jasper McGuiggan

I found this article last night on queen cells as I’ve just found what look like supersedure cells in one of my hives. It seems like a very well written article on them, it may be of interest to you if you haven’t read it already.

From reading that if it is supercedure then you leave them be and let nature takes it course, or would you suggest doing an artificial swarm?



It depends on what you are trying to do. Normally, I just let them supersede so I get a good queen in there.

Leave a comment


email* (not published)