Ok hoping someone can help…
I started my hive in Spring 2017 (Southern Hemisphere), but had a die out after last winter (see my previous cry for help here).
I cleaned it out and saved a few frames of honey (both in brood box and flow super) and put them back in the hive with a new nuc to give them a head start. Super went on about 3 weeks later. I’ve moved the hive to a better location and based on my limited experience it seems very healthy.
A couple of weeks ago when I inspected I found 4 queen cells. Because I didn’t know any better and I hadn’t been able to open the hive in 4-5 weeks, I assumed they were hatched queen cells and that my queen had been replaced. There were eggs so I knew a queen was laying. I destroyed the cells so I’d know if there were new ones in future. I intended to open up the hive again asap to check for the queen again, but I had a 7 week-old baby, so that didn’t happen.
Since then I have done some reading and realised that in supersedure and swarm cells the bees prepare them in advance. (For some reason I assumed that, like emergency cells, they just took a normal cell and turned it into a queen cell after the egg was laid.) Anyway, I now realise I probably destroyed the queen cups prior to any eggs being laid.
Fast forward 2 weeks and I opened up the hive again today and found two more queen cups, on either side of one frame. No eggs laid inside as yet. But now I don’t know if these are supersedure or swarm cells?
You can see the queen cups in my photos - on both sides the queen cup is in the top right-hand quadrant. I realise this frame looks pretty sad - not fully drawn and not drawn properly. It was one of the frames with the original nuc and they just can’t seem to get their act together on this one (they also keep building the comb off the frame, which is odd… maybe they don’t like the plastic). Rest assured all the other frames are fully drawn, mostly full, and there are a HUGE number of bees packed in there (sorry this last photo is so blurry), which is why I’m worried about swarming… but I’ve read that swarm cells are usually drawn on the edge of the frame, not towards the middle like these are?
If they are supersedure cells - why are they replacing the queen when she is only a few months old, and the colony appears to be pretty strong?
If they are swarm cells - if my bees need more room, why haven’t they moved honey into the super to make way for more brood? Why haven’t they filled up the super? (There is honey in the super but you couldn’t tell by looking in the windows - all the honey is in the middle of the middle frames, and not a huge amount.) There are bees in the super too, but nowhere near as many as the broodbox.
Appreciate any help!