I would posit it is highly unlikely this colony is prepareing to swarm. a) it's not that large. b) Very few drones, not much drone comb.
I grabbed all the photos and blew them up on the computer here. focus is not great, resolution poor, so it's difficult to tell in some of the spots what is what. Most of the photos have larvae in various stages at some spot in the comb. 4-1 in particular has a lot of larvae out near the edges, a few of which look fairly young. There may be some eggs in that photo, due to resolution it's hard to say if it's an egg at the bottom of the cell or just an artifact of comb ribs showing thru.
I did not definitively identify a queen in any of the shots.
Overall tho, the brood pattern on those combs is terrible. If these bees were mine, I would leave the cells and let them supercede.
Sorry about the photos. They were high res, but it seems the forum reduces image size on upload. I've uploaded them here if you want to take a look: https://imgur.com/a/gBpGSPI
I also added another copy of image 4-1, with a couple sections near the bottom edges zoomed. I can't identify anything there, but that could just be due to my lack of experience. I just want to confirm that what you saw wasn't due to the poor resolution of the original images.
Yes, I definitely agree that they aren't looking to swarm. I think maybe either the original queen already swarmed (seems unlikely), or the workers decided the queen wasn't cutting it and took her out. Like you pointed out, the brood pattern is very poor.
With the small nature of this hive, do you think I have time to wait for a new queen to emerge and start laying. That would be approximately 2 to 3 weeks from now, right? I don't know how quickly I could get a mated queen, but if that would greatly improve the chance of this colony's survival, I can start looking into it.
Bar 1 - emerging brood, bees are backfilling.
Bar 2 - capped brood, some almost ready to cap.
Bar 3 - read below
Bar 4 - Some emerging brood, the spot I thought may be eggs was actually the antenna of bees over empty translucent cells
Bar 5 - emerging brood, looks like the start of backfilling
BAR 3 - Side 1. This is the interesting bar, no surprise, it's the center of the nest. Look carefully at side 1, the area of darker comb where brood has emerged in the past, it's dark from cocoons. On the left side of the darker piece of comb you see polished cells, ie cells prepared for the queen to lay eggs. On the right of the darker comb, zoom in carefully. There are a few very young larvae, that is the cells with the 'small pool of white' at the bottom, just emerged eggs a couple have curled, a couple not yet curled into the C shape. There is one with a bee headfirst all the way into the cell, look at the cell emmediately to the left of that one, then the cell below to the right. It looks to me like an egg in a very small pool of royal jelly, ie, one about to emerge from egg to larvae. There are a few other cells where it's kind of hard to tell, it could be a few eggs, could be reflections. Looking just above that spot in the lighter comb, there are a few cells that really look like an egg standing up in the center of the cell, I count 4 or 5 of them.
Side 2 is similar, some brood ready to emerge, polished cells in the area that has emerged, an occaisional cell the really does look like an egg standing up.
There is open, and capped nectar in the combs, a hint of eggs and young larvae. What is definitively lacking in all of these shots, pollen.
This brood nest is pollen hungry and they are not raising brood because they cant feed it. They may well be in the process of raising a new queen, but, that wont solve the problem of nothing to feed brood. More than anything, these bees need a pollen flow.