This is my first year. Yesterday I opened the hive and there is alot of honey being stored in the brood area, the bees haven't done anything in the super I put up a few weeks ago. They seem to be busy, i'm always seeing them around the garden, and there is a lot of them, but I can't find the queen or any larva (to be fair I only looked at about 40% of the frames). I thought if I killed the queen they'd all go complacent and just hang around the hive, should I be worried? check all the frames? If I can't find her, is it too late for a replacement? any help is appreciated- thanks
If there is no brood, you have to suspect they are queenless or in between queens.
If you see a superceedure cell or two, they have probably taken care of the problem.
I know what a hopelessly lost colony acts and sounds like, but I can't really explain it.
Do the workers make a roar of some sort and fan their wings? Run around looking lost when you open the hive. If they do then they are queen less and not it's not to late to get another queen but time is running out. Good luck.
Talk to a beekeeper in your area. I do not the "cycle" in california where you are located, but here on the east coast (Pa.), you will sometimes see a slow down and sometimes even a stoppage in egg laying in the month of August. This year with it being so wet, I doubt it will be major, but I have been seeing it. Even in the worst of dearths, you will see bees out doing something. This does not mean however that the hive will continue to raise brood during slow times. Days are getting shorter and they know it.
A stoppage in nectur, or lack of being queenright, will allow the workers to fill in the brood area with honey. Its important you find which of these two items it may be. I'm betting its because of a swarm within the past two weeks. Controlling swarms is hard to do. Knowing that it happened is easy, and something that you should strive to master. Hives that swarm run about a 25% chance of never being queenright again. Alot of lost hives due to this not being caught in time.
If you want to know what a queenless hive sounds like sometime. Take a nuc (five frames or so) and remove the frame with the queen and set it aside and wait a few minutes. After a while you'll hear a dissonant roar. When you put the frame with the queen back in it's a different kind of a roar without the dissonance. The dissonant one is the "queenless sound". The other one is the "nasonov get back together sound".
It's a useful thing to know.
Also if you find a hive preparing to swarm, close it up and just listen to it for a while. They always sound the same when they are getting ready to swarm. Sort of a warbling sound in the background hum.