Ok, this might take a while to explain (i.m in australia)…
13th August - did the first spring check as they were getting active. 1 hive consisting of 2 brood boxes (with a mostly full flow hive on top). Found loads of capped brood and queen cells, saw a larvae present in one of the queen cells. Removed coverboard between flow hive and brood boxes. Sought advice.
15th August - went back in to check progress. Found more developed queen cells and cups. And larvae present. Decided to do an artificial split. Put the existing queen in a 4 frame nuc with capped and uncapped brood, honey, empty brood comb and an empty frame. Replaced frames removed from the main hive with empty frames.
25th August… opened to check for queen cells having hatched. Try to check if there is likely to be virgin swarms cast. In the main hive most of the queen cells had hatched (only two remained capped. Checked on the nuc and found no sign of the queen or eggs or larvae. Concluded I must have lost/killed her in the transfer. I put the frame from the main hive with the two capped queen cells in the nuc (it also had some capped brood on it). At this point my assumption was that there was a virgin queen in the main hive, no queen in the nuc but two queen cells about to hatch.
10th September… opened both to look for signs of laying queens.
Nuc… found a queen with an engorged abdomen. There were a handful of fat larvae on one frame, with some spotted capped brood around them. No capped queen cells but the capped queen cells I had put in were open from the side (not chewed open at the end). Not much honey present.
Main hive… still plenty of honey in the flow frames. The top brood box had a few frames of honey and all empty frames had been fully drawn. There were around 5 queen cups present and a couple of more developed queen cells. The bottom brood box had honey and pollen present. one frame hadn’t been drawn yet. No sign of eggs or larvae (although I’m yet to correctly identify an egg).
I’m assuming 13th was at least 4-6 days after laying eggs in queen cells.
This would make my inspection on 25th 16-18 days, which matches finding all but 2 queen cells hatched.
Then my inspection today would 32-34 days… so eggs should definitely be present and there should be larvae too.
NOW THE QUESTIONS…
Does this mean my main hive queen has failed (it’s been very variable weather, so not heaps of opportunities for mating flights)? Does the presence of queen cells suggest she has started laying and I just failed to identify eggs? If so, are they still planning to swarm?
Does the presence of capped brood and damaged queen cells in the nuc box mean my old queen wasn’t dead and she’s still there? If so, why isn’t she laying copiously as she was prior to her being moved? If she was dead, could the capped brood be brood I transferred that got chilled (wouldn’t they have removed it by now if that were the case?