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Author Topic: workers encased in queen cell?!  (Read 804 times)
tandemrx
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« on: June 27, 2011, 08:53:52 PM »

State inspector was by last week.

One of my hives had some queen cells. The hive had already swarmed not too long back.  There were mostly open queen cells, but one that was still capped.  inspector expected it to be a dead queen in the cell, we opened it anyway just to take a peek at either a queen about to hatch or a dead queen (he was pretty sure it would be a dead queen).

There was a larvae in there on the bottom of the cell - old and not viable, but along with it there was not one, but 2 workers, dead of course.  Both head in-wards in the cell near the capping end.  Again, this was a full size queen cell that was still capped.  No propolis involved, just a regular wax queen cell.   huh  huh

He was a bit surprised, but he said he had seen it before and recently saw it on one of his other inspections this year.  I asked how/why/what and he said he didn't know why it would happen.  I said "bizarre" and he shrugged his shoulders also and shook his head.  We kind of moved on with the inspection and the topic didn't come up again.

Anyone seen this or have an explanation?  Michael Bush?   need help

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schawee
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2011, 09:46:30 PM »

had one this year .this was the only cell that wasn't open.i opened it and it  had a worker still alive in it.she sure was happy to get out of that cell.      .....schawee
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AllenF
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2011, 09:48:49 PM »

She learned her lesson.  No napping on the job, you might get sealed in.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2011, 10:05:45 PM »

Someone presented a queen cell with exactly the same situation just last week. He swore it was a sealed queen cell.

Upon close examination you could detect the precision round hole on the bottom of the queen cell. Where the queen had got out, the flap flexed back into place, and the thing was probably walked upon enough times, coupled with the heat of summer, and other factors, making the end of the cell seem as if it had never been opened. The wax just kind of melted back together.

No two worker were raised in that queen cell. Clear and simple. Your inspector does not know what he is talking about.

For the record, I have had plenty of cells I thought were still sealed. I waited for the queen to hatch for many extra days. then I felt like a fool after I found out the end cap was sealed back over by the bees, probably accidentally. And many times they had worker in them. Seen it many times.
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tandemrx
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2011, 10:39:08 PM »

Bjorn,

re: "You inspector does not know what he is talking about"

Actually, only thing he said is he didn't know what it was all about . . . so don't be too judgmental from afar - he is a very knowledgeable beekeeper and inspector and I have interacted with him many times.  And he certainly didn't think, say, or even intimate that the workers were "raised in the queen cell" as you mention.  It was clear that they were not raised in there, but got trapped in there for some reason (they were dead, head first in cell, but fully developed workers).  As I mentioned, he was perplexed by the phenomenon and stated that he didn't know why it happened this time or previously when he had seen it.

You may well have described how this scenario occurred, although I looked at that capped cell closely and I could not detect any  precision round hole or any typical emerged looking exit that had been sealed over.  But, of course, I wasn't looking for that at the time.  In fact, the end was rather domed, like that of an earlier queen cell.  I am not saying that this did not happen, and maybe it well did - as you say, many factors could have sealed those workers in.  Doesn't fully explain "why", and if you have seen it many times, then maybe there is a "why" or an explanation to it all.  Or maybe it is accidental when it does occur - you would almost think that the worker could chew through the side of the cell to get out - maybe they are in too cramped a situation to do so.  Interesting in any case.

How often do you see more than one worker stuck in the queen cell?  Thinking of my observation hive, I don't think I have seen 2 workers head first in a cell working on it (but I have only  had it this one season).  I have seen very long honey cells with a worker waaaay down to the end - say 2.5 body lengths of a cell (claustrophobia must not be in a bees genetic makeup  cheesy).

I will soon get to see the bees deconstructing or working around some empty queen cells in my observation hive (3-4 ready to hatch about this Friday).  Maybe I will get to see some prankster workers zip over and seal one of their buddies in the left over queen cell as a practical joke . . evil . . . and then maybe they have a short attention span and forget to let their buddy out  Sad
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tandemrx
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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2011, 10:50:50 PM »

Also, as an addendum or twist to this occurrence of "trapped workers in queen cell" is that in this instance there was clearly a large larvae in the bottom of the cell - somewhat dehydrated and not viable, but clearly a large larvae (queen, drone, worker, I don't know, seemed bigger than any worker larvae I have seen against the glass in my observation hive).

So, it was not likely that a queen emerged from this cell.

Still possible I guess that the workers chewed open the end of the cell, say to dispatch what they knew was a nonviable larvae, although I wouldn't think they would be so neat about it that it would swing open and then close behind them, but maybe so.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2011, 05:30:08 PM »

I've seen this type of thing before.  One of three things occur to produce this puzzle.  Either the worker bee(s) were working inside the queen cell when it was capped by other bees, the cell was recapped while a worker bee was cleaning out a queen cell, or the bee got trapped inside of the queen cell because the exit hole (flap) created by the queen swung shut.

The Bee Inspector was pretty close to correct in his guess.
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