What Is Queen Cup?
Every beehive has a queen bee. Without a queen, a hive won’t be able to survive. The queen lays the eggs which are called the larvae which is the future of the hive. But if there is just one queen, then how is another queen decided? This is where the role of queen cups comes. A queen cup is a queen cell. These are the cells which go on to produce queen bees in the future. But these are just a mere form of insurances for the queen bee. If she wants to keep her role of queen, when the time comes, she kills each queen cell before it has the chance to produce another queen bee. But it is not so simple. More things have to be considered while looking at the queen cup.
Emergency of Queen
Queen bees often create several queen cups but leave them empty. If the queen cups are empty, then there would be no possibility of a new queen bee. For a new queen bee to emerge, the current queen bee will have to plant royal jelly or larvae on top of it. In some cases, the queen bee does it herself when she thinks that she is not going to live much longer or can’t take care of the group anymore. But in some cases, there is also an emergency that is created upon the death of the queen bee. In that situation, the worker bees move a new egg into the queen cup and with that add a new comb to it so that when the eggs hatch, a new queen bee is born. So as a beekeeper, if you notice larvae or royal jelly on top of queen cups, understand that the bees are ready to replace their old queen with a new one.
The Fight For Being Queen
When the queen bee lays royal jelly on a queen cup, it is bound to produce a new queen bee. But sometimes, when the egg hatches, the older queen bee decides she doesn’t want to leave her group as a queen. So then, there is a fight till death between the old and the new queen bee and whoever wins gains control of the hive as its new queen bee. In some cases, the queen bee kills every egg which is bound to produce queen bee before it even has the chance to hatch.
The Stages Of Queen Cells
Queen cells are inside of queen cups. There are four stages of queen cells.
· The first one is the presence of queen cups. Without a queen cup, it is impossible to contain the queen cell.
· The second stage is an open queen cell. Here you will find larvae being deposited in the queen cup. It is from 2 to 4 days old.
· The third stage is the capped queen cell. It means the queen inside the cell can emerge at any time now.
· Emerged queen cell is the fourth and the last stage. It looks exactly like the capped queen cell except it has been chewed by the virgin queen at the top.
Beekeeping is a very interesting profession that teaches a many unknown things about bees, its characteristics, life cycle and more.