Swarm cells – Supersedure cells: What is the difference?
Supersedure cells are produced by the bees when they decide (intelligent creatures) that the queen is failing and needs replacing. This can happen any time of the year.
Swarm cells are made when the hive decides it needs to split, either through lack of space or other reasons. This usually happens in spring or early summer when the hive is growing rapidly.
How do I tell the difference?
Both look the same – like a peanut shape, the difference is where the are positioned. A Supercedure cell will be on the face of the comb, the Swarm cell will be hanging down from the bottom of the frame. If you have double brood boxes they will be on the top box frames.
Because Supersedure cells are built in an emergency they are usually built over a worker larvae of the correct age and condition. They then build a queen cell over it and feed it royal jelly. When the new queen emerges she will kill the old queen. There are sometimes multiple supersedure cells so the one to emerge first will destroy the rest.
Swarm cells on the other hand are purposely built as the queen is not being replaced but the old queen will go with half the hive leaving the swarm cell queen to emerge and continue the hive. When you see swarm cells in a hive the hive has already decided to swarm. If you destroy the swarm cells they will make new ones so check the hive every week to remove them. They will not swarm without leaving a new queen coming.