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Hi folks, for the first time I had a hive swarm on me, on May 15 (so 15 days ago). Following the advice I got here, a few days later I narrowed that hive down to the two nicest-looking capped queen cells. Checking in on them today, those two queen cells are still there and unopened, with the tips of them dark brown. There are still some capped cells but no eggs or larvae, and several small queen cups started.

How do you interpret this? Unless I missed a third queen cell somewhere and she came out first, I assume I'm still queenless at the moment. I guess those two queen cells are dead for some reason? I've never seen that before. What about those queen cups... it seems like even with a cup, there's nobody left to lay new eggs in them.

My thought right now is to wait one more week to be sure there's not still a virgin queen in play. After that, I guess to try moving over a frame of eggs from another hive and let them start requeening again? (The second colony superseded and just started laying, so I'd like to give them another week to get up to speed.) Any input is appreciated.
 

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There's a couple of possibilities with the queen cells. One is they are infected with a virus called black queen cell virus, which is found in the majority of beehives and from time to time kills queen larvae. If that happened you will find dark colored watery remains inside the cell. The other possibility is that the cells hatched, and afterwards the lids flipped back closed and the bees sealed them down again, which also happens reasonably commonly.

Based on the time frame you give, these cells are passed due date so you have nothing to lose by opening them to see what happened. Long as they are the same cells you sighted and left 15 days ago. If they contain dead larvae you will need to give a frame with eggs, if you remove from the other hive a frame with just a few eggs, it will not unduly tax the other hive as they will not have invested much into those eggs yet and can quickly replace. If the cells are capped but totally empty, that's the best outcome for you, the cells hatched but the lids were sealed back down, and you should have a virgin roaming around in the hive.

If in any doubt about anything, it never hurts to give a frame with some eggs, as insurance, and so you can if you want, take a look in a week and see what the bees are doing with those eggs.
 
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