"I got my first hive, a split, from a fellow beekeeper on Friday. I took my first peek inside today and . . .
It was 70ish today so I came home early to see what the bees were doing. I began by taking off the two top supers. First concern, neither of the boxes had any activity, no comb being built here. When I got down to the brood box it looked OK from the top, bees roaming over the top of the frames. The first frame I took out was an end frame, there was some comb drawn on it but not much else, some pollen on the inner side."
How many frames in this hive? Sometimes it is better to leave them in less room...ie...without the supers, until they have grown into their new space.
"The second frame, however, was a big surprise - it was loaded with queen cells! They were bright yellow, sticking perpendicular to the frames, probably half a dozen on both sides of the frame."
"As I went through the frames there were several others with queen cells scattered about - and one of them open! I also saw a queen on one of the frames, she seemed to be wandering around, without any attendants watching after her - this seemed strange. She also seemed skinny, not that I have seen a lot of queens before. There were also a bunch of drones bees in the hive."
That would be the one that hatched. If you look back in a day or so, the remaining queencells should be ripped open from the side. Any that have opened from the bottom will have hatched.
"There were also a bunch of cells that were only half filled with something. It was off white and looked pasty. I talked to another beekeeper and he suggested that perhaps it was pollen. All of the pollen I have seen up to this point has been yellow or even orange. ?"
Started queencells filled with RJ perhaps.
"I also did not see eggs or larva or much stores! This could be my inexperience at spotting them.:
Would be a good indication that there wasn't a queen in this split at all.
"So, I am guessing that the first queen left, or gave up, or was killed in the transport, or the bees started building queen cells when the queen was trapped for the split. I am guessing the queen I saw was a new one (is there any way to tell?) perhaps a virgin queen?"
Yes the one you saw would be the virgin.
"So, because there were little stores, I went ahead and took off the two supers, put the inner cover right down on the brood box and put on two feeder jars. I know I have a chance of crowding the bees with the one box which could cause them to think swarm, but I have to worry about them living through the next couple of weeks. Hopefully one of the new queens will mate and get to work laying eggs!"
I don't think you have enough bees to cause enough crowding to cause them to swarm at this point. In about three weeks you should check for eggs, and you might even see some larva at that point if she mated quickly.
"I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage