Today (Sunday) was such a beautiful day that decided to get out and do a quick inspection. I've been keeping my fingers crossed that my colony would do well and thrive for the next few weeks, but not get the itch to swarm. But I've had a deep feeling that since this colony is a booming colony, their natural urge to swarm would kick in before I could make a manual split. They still have lots of room in both chambers, but I noticed that they're loading up the upper chamber with pollen and the queen was laying really well in the bottom brood box. Matter of fact, when I examined the top deep first, I could tell the queen had laid here and there, and I was feeling a little disappointed that she may be giving out by the spotty laying pattern. But when I got to the bottom brood chamber, she was laying like a champ and in a tight, consistent pattern on most of the frames. Capped brood was everywhere as well as larvae.
But before I get too far ahead of myself, let me show you what else I found. Look closely at the photo and just above my website brand. I think that's a queen cell they're making in the upper deep. My photography isn't the best here as I was by myself, but if you could have seen this from my angle...the cell had a downward, protruding shape. And as you can see, there is a larvae inside and several nurse bees were busy attending to it. I didn't find any other possible queen cells, just this one, but I did find bunches of drone cells on several frames. And one of the drones was making a fierce racket while I was checking out the frames. Overall they were in a decent mood, a little testy, but I've seen worse.
Of course you can click on any of the pictures to get a better view. And while you're at it, take a look at this picture on the left. That's a little better view of what I believe is a queen cell. And you can see the bees checking on it. While my first instinct was to take my hive took and tear it off, I decided that might not be the wise thing to do. Beekeepers with a lot more experience than me say that it is never wise to rip the queen cells off because if the old queen has already left with a handful of her daughters or is dead or whatnot, then the hive could be queenless and doomed if you do that. So I decided to leave the cell alone and check it again in a few days to see if they finish the job and cap it and see it takes on the unmistakable appearance of a classic queen cell.
While it may be too late to keep this colony from swarming, I've decided that I may be able to buy some time by adding empty frames to keep them occupied for awhile. I added another deep with new frames (plastic foundation) so they can have a head start in case I do get to make a manual split. And if they do swarm on their own, at least I'll have some already drawn frames for when I find another swarm or get more bees. Oh, and I added the empty hive to the left of my current one. I've read that in quite a few instances, bees that swarm will go to nearby empty hives and settle in as opposed to traveling far away. So maybe if they decide to hit the road, they'll find that there's an empty house next door and ready for occupancy.
Okay, gang, I need your help!
Take a good look at the two pictures that shows the "suspicious" cell at the bottom of the frame. Does this look like a queen cell to you? And how would you handle this situation if you were me? Would you have cut the cell out? Or would you leave it alone?
I'm open for all ideas and suggestions. So lay it on me! All ideas welcome!