There are new opportunities every day.
Yesterday afternoon, I inspected my beehive. The maple trees have been in full bloom for the past few weeks, and the bees have definitely made the most of it. Their population has more than doubled since the bloom began there’s a lot of fresh wax and it’s loaded with nectar, pollen, & brood. The hive looks great!
The bees also think it looks great because I discovered they had built several swarm cells on the frames. This means the queen and half of the bees are getting ready to leave home. I have wanted to increase my hives, so now I’ve got the chance to do it. If I do nothing, then the old queen and about half of the worker bees will swarm away in search of a new home shortly before the new queen hatches out. However, I’d rather not lose half of my bees if I can avoid it. Many beekeepers cut out these swarm cells when they find them, but I’m taking it as an opportunity to split them into another hive.
There were no eggs or larva in the cells yet—they weren’t there when I opened the hive last week. I can expect a new queen to emerge 16 days after an egg is laid in them. The old queen should stay in the hive until the new queen cell is sealed up during its pupa stage—8 days after the egg is laid. That means I’ve got a week from today to split this hive in two.
Addendum: I’ve since learned that it is normal to have empty queen cups in the hive, and that the queen will not lay in it until it is needed.