Protection of queen cells

In general, the best acceptance and care by nurse bees is achieved when young queens emerge directly into their colony. If possible, ripe queen cells should be transferred from the rearing colony to the mating colony 1-2 days before emergence (Fig. 2). However, if queen cells are left to emerge in the nurse colonies or in a brood chamber, they have to be protected against attacks of other queens or workers and to prevent the escape of queens. This can be achieved by cell protectors or emergence cages (Figs. 3 and 4).

Queen cell protectors, made from insulation tape, tin foil or plastic tubing, are placed over the queen cells to prevent the emergence of the queen or to allow the queens emergence but to prevent the workers from chewing down the cells. The most popular are push in cell protectors and top bar cell protectors from Mann Lake Ltd. There are many types of wooden or plastic emergence cages available, which can be used singly or as a block of 10-15 cages, to protect all queen cells on a cell bar.

Fig. 2. Sealed queen cells, 1-2 days before emergence, ready to be transferred to mating colonies or an incubator. Photo: J Wilde.

Figure 2

Fig. 3. Two push-in cell protectors (left) and 2 top bar cell protectors (right) from Mann Lake Ltd. Photo: J Wilde.

Figure 3

Fig. 4. Queen cells protected by 3 types of cages (from left: iron, plastic and Zander cages) and container for 10 queen cells (below). Photo: B Chuda-Mickiewicz, J Wilde.

Figure 4