What would you have done?
My problem: Today (10/13) I went to quickly check on a hive I last inspected on 10/2. There were plenty of eggs and larva observed, but behold(!) – two queen cells. There were two others on another frame. I didn’t get around to marking this hive’s queen, and didn’t want to keep the hive open too long to find her tonight – which could have been impossible (because she’s gone) or challenging (because she’s slimmed down because a swarm was imminent). There were plenty of bees – so I suspect a swarm had not yet been cast – but who knows.
Other useful details: – this is a “double deep NUC” (10 deep frames, split across two stacked boxes that are 5 frames wide). – I’ve been feeding this hive 2:1 for 2 weeks now and only went into the hive to make sure they weren’t getting honeybound (didn’t appear they were) – Last time I was in the hive I also rearranged some frames to get the brood concentrated into the lower box.
– Tonight, I was compelled to explore past the top box because the bees had that distinct “something is going on” roar.
– Only one of the queen cells was capped. – The hive was split from another in mid July.
What I did: – removed the queen cells – dissected the only capped queen cell to estimate the development timeline, which I think was around 12 days old
What’s next: – will revisit the hive in a week or so before they have a chance to cap any other cells made from the eggs/larva observed today. – If no new eggs at that point, I’ll assume the queen is gone and will plan on combining with another hive. – Stress out in the meantime.
So…what would you have done if you were in my shoes?
Is this colony destined for a combination – or is it possible something like a few cold nights will change their opinions on swarming if the old queen is still home?
EDIT: I live in Reston, Virginia (USA)