Forgive me for posting what has probably been asked many times before. I can count the number of times I've been able to find what I'm looking for via this site's search function on one hand.

In any case, one of my hives is raising a queen. It was capped at least 9 days ago. I checked today to see if she had emerged and found something I have never seen before. It looks as if the tip of the queen cell has changed color, almost to the color of worker brood capping or darker and is somewhat round in shape, like a hot dog. I know that a queen cell will be thinned out as it ripens, but I've never read anything about a queen cell changing colors like this.

My apologies for the blurry image:

Based on my limited experience, I assume there are two possibilites: This is normal (or within the normal range) for a queen just about to emerge, and I should just sit tight and wait. The other possibility is, this is a sign of a bad queen cell and I should consider other options (purchase a queen, provide the hive with eggs, etc.). I've already provided the hive with a frame of eggs/young larvae with the assumption that this cell is no longer viable.

I will likely learn the answer soon. I plan to check in on them in a few days, but figured I'd get a head start on tracking down a queen, if that's what I need to do.