I picked up a small swarm a couple of weeks ago (12 Jan), checked them last weekend, no eggs laid and couldn't see a queen, so I figured a cast swarm with virgin queen so still hard to spot. To help them along, I added a couple of frames of brood from another hive and fed them on sugar syrup, it being drought and not much happening flowering-wise.
Had a look today, now many more bees than previously and all remaining brood is capped but I reckon that if they had a queen, then she's gone AWOL because it looks like there are now three queen cells in there (see photo below), two capped one still open.
So first question - is this a queen cell? It fits the bill as an emergency queen, being in the centre of the frame but it looks smaller than the others I've seen previously; I think whatever's in there will be a pretty poor specimen.
Second question, I decided to requeen this hive anyway, simply because once my bee sting desensitisation course is finished in 4 months, this hive and its sister are coming back to my place on a small lot in the burbs and I want them both to be headed by a queen known to be from a quiet strain.
So ...... I have a queen on order, she's due some time in the first week in Feb. (ie 7-14 days from now).
My Plan A was that by then, the presumed virgin queen would be mature enough for me to easily find and remove her. Problem is that if I assume that thee queens were started the day I added the frames of brood (Saturday 16th Jan) and they were capped late yesterday or earlier today (one is not yet capped), then they'll emerge around next Sunday 31 Jan or Monday 1st Feb and it will be a couple of weeks after that before the surviving queen is fully developed enough to be spotted by a duffer like me.
I'll then have all sorts of difficulties introducing the bought queen if I cannot find and dispatch the incumbent.
So my dilemma is, do I just destroy these cells before the queens emerge and leave them queenless with no means of making another queen, for another week or so, or do I destroy them and add another frame of brood to keep them busy and then destroy any further queen cells when the new queen arrives?
I'm worried that if I leave them queenless and with no queen in development for too long that they'll collectively get sh!t on the liver and reject any queen I try to introduce later on.
Are my concerns warranted and is it safe to leave them completely queenless for perhaps a couple of weeks or should I give them some more new brood to keep them busy?