I just examined the hive in my back yard today, and found a queen cup about 1/3 of the way from the top of the very center frame in the top brood box. After a few minutes of squinting, I've decided I'm 99% certain there's an egg in there. (definitely going to switch to black plastic foundation) These frames were installed in an empty brood box at the end of last season on a late split we made, and on my first inspection of the year (early march), were not drawn out. Since the warm snap we had last month, I've been feeding them lots of sugar water. 8 of the frames in the top box are now drawn out with an impressive array of worker brood on 6 of the frames (plus more drone brood than I've ever seen before, whole patches of it all over several frames). I haven't checked the hive since early march, when I found the queen in the bottom box and was VERY careful not to disturb her.
After examining all of the top box, here are my observations. Large 3x3 patches of drone brood on both sides of the center 4 frames, solidly packed sealed worker brood inbetween the drone brood. No queen found on any of the top box frames, but eggs were discovered only on the frame with the queen cup, including an egg in the cup. No other queen cups or swarm cells were found, but I did tear out a large amount of burr comb between the boxes when I removed the frames. I didn't see anything that resembled a swarm cell, but I can't be 100% certain I didn't rip one out... I did not examine the bottom box.
My conclusions are that the queen is healthy and laying within the last two days, as the presence of eggs shows, and that the workers are busy drawing comb and tending the young. The hive is getting very packed, as the top box filled up only in the last month despite the cold snap we've experienced. I have two nuc boxes I just built for the purposes of splitting this hive, but was planning to wait a week or two to do so.
My question is this: Is the presence of a single occupied queen cup evidence of swarming or supersedure, and should I leave it alone, or use it to make one of the two splits I was planning to make next week? And should I instead split them now? Keep in mind I didn't examine the bottom box for fear of disrupting the queen, so I do not know if there are additional cells in the bottom box.
If anyone can answer soonish, I'd really appreciate it, I have to go out of town on the weekend, and would like to get this taken care of today before it cools down or tomorrow. With the chilly weather we've been having recently, opportune times like now are in short supply.