Honey bees produce queens in a cell that is the size, shape, color, and texture of a peanut. Queen cells are generally described as swarm cells, which occur along the base of the frame, or supersedure cells, which are found on the sides of the frames. There is no difference in the queens that the two kinds of queen cells produce. I look at them as a gift of the hive: queens that you can use to make a colony division or create a nucleus hive to hold a spare queen for emergency replacement. If you find a frame with a single queen cell on it, simply move the entire frame to a nucleus hive along with enough frames of brood, bees, honey, and pollen to support the queen. If you find a number of queen cells on a frame, you can carefully cut the extra cells off with a pocket knife. Cut wide around the queen cell. You will probably be cutting through worker brood cells. Place a queen cell inside a plastic queen cell protector and push the protector into the side of a frame of brood in a new hive. The queen cell must be oriented vertically, just as the bees produced it. At times, when you find queen cells, it is often after you have torn them open removing the frame. You can often gently replace the beeswax and the bees will repair the cell and save the developing queen.
The quality of any queen is determined by her genetic make-up, the nutrition she receives throughout her development, how successfully she is mated, and the genetics of the drones with which she mated. To ensure that our queens receive good nutrition during queen rearing, we plant a diversity of flowers near our bee yards where queens are raised and mated. Click on the photo to see a bee collecting pollen from turnips, mustard family plants that have been grown to bloom and produce seed.