2nd year, some weird looking stuff (pics), any ideas what is/was going on?
Hive (): 2 deep brood supers (9 1/8" frames), I added 1 shallow (6 1/4") honey super (w/excluder) in June or July, hoping to give them more space. I built the body's, bottom, and cover with Cedar 2byXs, and purchased frames, if that could have anything to do with it.
Location: Colorado foothills west of Denver, 6800 feet elevation. It was a quite cool and rainy this spring and early summer relative to the dry and hot normal.
My first hive is in it's second year, started from a captured swarm last May. Last year they seemed to do very well, even with some Varroa in the late summer and fall that I treated with Apivar in early October. I did not take any honey last year but each of the 2 brood supers was probably 75% full and heavy, although there were a couple nearly empty frames. I haven't taken any honey this year and probably will not as there doesn't seem to be a surplus although there are a couple good brood frames of pure honey and some newly built comb and capped honey in the honey super as well. I was traveling a lot in the spring and early summer and went kind of lax on checking, but I'm pretty sure that they swarmed, and maybe one to several cast swarms as well. The weather was relatively cool and rainy, and I think the hive was quite crowded as my first check or two in May had tons of bees. Anyways, there are noticably fewer bees currently during hive checks and simply observing coming and going. I have seen a small ant colony between supers, which I cleaned out, and quite a few earwigs (which are everywhere around here), which I've been killing of course.
When I did a hive check I think around the end of June or beginning of July I first noticed a lot fewer bees and some odd looking comb and cells. There was some but not much brood or larva to be seen. This is why I think that the queen took off, or died. On a check a few weeks ago, there was even less, if any, larva or brood. On last check about a week ago there was some healthy looking larva, but it was thin, not nearly as dense as I saw last year. To me it seems logical that this means that a new queen is getting going, but that's just an inexperienced quess. I kept an eye out, but I was moving pretty quickly and I did not find a queen. Since the population dropped, I added a pint-sized mason jar entrance feeder in an attempt to help jump-start their rebuild. They seem to be taking a pint in about a week or so, which seems pretty slow to me and slow based compared to last spring when I fed to give them a boost start building comb and help make sure they'd be ready for their first winter in the new hive, especially at 6800' elevation in the mountains, with plenty of snow and cold snaps.
Below are several pictures of what I think are weird or odd looking cells and comb, and my guess at what it might be. If some experienced people could give me their quick take and any recommendations, it would be much appreciated!
Photo 1: From the googling that I've done, this looks like a queen cell, but I don't know if its a swarm cell or a supersedure cell (or even a queen cell really). There several like this around and in the other pics. Also, am I correct in that all the "bubbly" looking cells around it are drone cells? 1.jpg
Photo 2: Here are two more, kind of odd, queen cell looking cells. I believe that these were on the bottom of the frame, facing up (but I might be wrong). The one on the right is open, and the left closed. 2.jpg
Photo 3: This is a weird looking cell at the bottom of a frame. The comb seems incomplete, but the cell is quite a bit larger than the others near it. I'm pretty sure that pulling the frame ruptured the cell on the left where the larva is falling out. 3.jpg
Photo 4: This is just some weird looking comb on a deep frame in the brood body. Might this just be due to too much spacing in-between the frames here, or is something else going on? 4.jpg
Re: 2nd year, some weird looking stuff (pics), any ideas what is/was going on?
You appear to have a laying worker hive.
1. superceedure cell. drone cells
2. two more queen cells, from what I know they all face down
3. queen cup possibly
4. this happens sometimes for no aparent reason
It's not looking good for this hive surviving this winter even if the new queen starts laying I'm afraid.