I’ve only been at this a year. Never been able to find my queen-she’s unmarked. Never making that mistake again! Lol! Anyway something is changing in this hive. Lots if bees. Brood does not look the same as last year. Lots of drones. I know they lay more drones in the spring but also know that this can be a sign of laying worker. There is also a decent amount of worker brood and larva. So if my queen is dead it’s recent. With all of that said I’ve seen what looks like the start of queen cells. I wondering if the change in seeing is them getting ready to swarm?!! Not sure what to do since I can’t find her. If I need to split and can’t find her I’m at a loss.
You need to know what kind of queen cells those are - swarm, supercedure or emergency. I would bet swarm cells at this time of year. They could be play cups if there is no royal jelly or larvae in them. However, with the number of drones, your hive may be getting swarmy. If so, you need to consider a split, as you know. There is a split, called a modified Snelgrove, which is designed so that it doesn’t matter which part of the split has the queen. In other words, you don’t have to find her if you can’t. However, I would suggest that you join a local bee club and see if somebody there will mentor you. An experienced beekeeper could help you to find and mark the queen, to make it much easier for you in future.
Meanwhile, this is how to work out what kind of queen cells you have:
This document has a step by step of the modified Snelgrove split on page 17:
I suggest you print out and thoroughly read both booklets. They are well-written and very helpful.
The Wally split is ace!
I use it all the time
Be prepared as most bees make swarm preps every year. It’s the way the colony reproduces
New beekeepers are always so obsessed with “finding the queen”. There is really no need whatsoever to locate her in the hive. If you have eggs and larvae, she is in the hive. If you do not have eggs and larvae she is NOT in the hive. Don’t look for the queen, look for evidence of the queen and be content.
Keep an eye on the older larva and see if it gets capped as worker brood.
Eggs and larva mean nothing: Drones start out as eggs and larva; you need WORKER eggs and larva, and it is tough to tell until they are almost capped.