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Types of actual cells that are in the hive

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Types of real cells that are in the hive throughout the campaign. It should not be a concern if you learn to identify them.


The actual cell types that are in the hive depends on multiple factors. Climatic conditions, food, treatments, pathologies, physical damage to the queen, beekeeper mismanagement, hive homeostasis, deficiency for the different queen cells, food abroad all influence.

lower royal
Types of realeras that you will find in the hive

Replacement or substitution actual cells

The natural replacement of a queen never forms a new colony. It is produced by the need for survival of the hive.

substitution real cell

They are the answer to poor performance. It usually occurs when it does not meet the expectations of the hive. The reasons are multifactorial

Usually a queen that is replaced through natural replacement is failing in some way, perhaps she is old and has a poor laying pattern.

royal swarm cells

Swarm cells occur when family conditions have exceeded the number of individuals within the hive.

Likewise, if outside food conditions are favorable and plentiful, beekeepers define this situation as a «hot» hive.

Then it’s time for the big family to split up, so they build new royal cells located at the bottom of the frame where it’s much cooler.

 five royal or royal cells

They can build between 6 and 12 realeras and some colonies can reach 50 realeras and there are cells of different ages, due to this, there can be multiple swarms that are subdivided into swarms, jabardos or jabardillos.

Royal emergency cells

If a hive is orphaned, by accidentally losing the queen or falling to the ground during the beekeeper’s handling, they build an emergency cell. They also do this when the beekeeper creates artificial swarms.

actual cells in the center of the frame

The most common is to find it in the center of the honeycomb, they can also build it anywhere there are viable larvae or eggs. One of the features is that they look smaller than swarm or replacement cells.

Other causes

The real or mandibular pheromone is something that says a lot to bees. It is produced by the queen through glands housed in the mandibular section of her body and they can identify its deficiency in the hive.

It is transmitted through contact with the bees that clean and feed it through trophallaxis and successively to the other bees in the colony by sharing food.

A young queen has very potent levels of pheromone secretion, and this inhibits their replacement. As you age, your hormone levels will get lower and lower and this will lead to replacement.

large colony

A large colony is more likely to replace its queen because overcrowding causes poor distribution of queen pheromones throughout the hive.

nurse bees caring for larvae


However, sometimes they will also replace queens, young, vigorous and with a good spawn.

For the beekeeper, it is not possible to establish the quality of a queen with all its nuances and subtleties by merely observing the breeding pattern.

Because it is possible that it is producing a very compact brood, but it is not producing enough pheromones to satisfy the bees in the hive, or it is infested with Nosema or viruses.

Irregular posture but strong pheromones

This may be due to still producing high levels of pheromones or other factors such as high hygienic colony behaviour, poisoning and many more variables.

You will find an irregular posture when the queen has ovarioles damaged by Nosema, has been fertilized poorly, the queen is old and her spermathecae has very few reserves.

postura irregular

The advantages of having a new queen are important, a young queen will always have better posture and will produce enough pheromone to maintain family cohesion.

The hive with a young queen rarely swarms and this gives more advantage from the beekeeper’s point of view.

Firma Articulo tecnico de Ecocolmena


Manzano, Jesús. Experto en «Ciencia detrás del comportamiento de las abejas» (2022). Manual de Apicultura en Sistemas de Producción Ecológica (4a. ed.). España, Guadalajara: Ecocolmena. Profesor de apicultura y perito judicial en apicultura – Socio fundador de Ecocolmena

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