I have a bottom deep with feral bees and comb from my May cutout, and I thought they'd been doing OK, except that they hadn't been drawing much comb on the foundation in the medium upper during our summer dearth. So about 3 weeks ago I started feeding 1:1 sugar syrup from inverted quart Mason jars.
I hadn't been in the hive for about two weeks, and when I went to look yesterday afternoon there was a big gyre of bees above my hive. I watched, mouth agape, for about 5 minutes until they settled into a beard on a nearby tree branch. Had they been balled up they would have been about the size of a softball, or maybe a grapefruit, so it was only a few thousand bees.
By the time I had another box ready to go and try to catch them, they'd flown away to ????
Anyway, so I went inside my hive to see what was going on, and I saw lots of bees, but no larvae at all. There was some capped brood, but no larvae, whereas I usually see lots of uncapped brood. So I've been queenless for awhile now.
I did see several queen cells. They looked pretty much exactly like this photo, and I counted 6 of them. One of them had definitely been used because there was round cap still hanging off of it, and another one was still capped. The other 4 just had round holes at the bottom ends.
4 of them were right in the middle of the frames, and two (the one with the hanging cap and the capped one) were hanging off the bottom of the comb. All 6 were peanut-shaped, and _not_ the little spherical kind.
Have I been the victim of a standard swarm and after-swarm? Or does this look more like an emergency situation?
How long should I wait to see new eggs/larvae, or should I buy a new queen ASAP? Does anyone have a good source for queens suitable for Los Angeles?