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Discussion Starter #1
I found capped queen cells in my strongest overwintered colony yesterday. To my untrained eye they looked like swarm cells, about one per frame.

Then I spotted this queen. And I wondered, is this my overwintered queen? If so, has she slimmed down for swarming, or is she still laying?
And if not, is this a virgin from one of the cells, getting ready for her mating flight?

IMG_20190511_140917.jpg
IMG_20190511_140917.jpg

For context, this colony swarmed and requeened itself mis-summer last year. I believe, with low confidence, that they have not already swarmed this year, but it's hard to be sure.

I was low on equipment and don't want increase, so here's what I ended up doing:

Before:

Super
QX
Brood box 2
Brood box 1
Lower entrance

After:

Upper entrance
Brood box 2 with queen, 2 old brood frames replaced with undrawn frames
QX
Super
QX
New brood box with 8 new undrawn frames and the 2 brood frames taken from Brood box 2
Brood box 1
Lower entrance

I guess I'm hoping that the bottom colony won't swarm because they're queenless, and the top colony won't swarm because they sort of feel like they already swarmed. And if one of them does swarm, I'm hoping fewer bees leave with that swarm. Was this a reasonable thing to do? What would you recommend doing differently? Note that I have no empty drawn frames, and no space for another stack of boxes.

Thanks for any tips!
 

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the queen is along the edge of the frame, look at the left side the left side of the pic.
you can see her thorax, plus her abdomen, a dead give-away for id.

looks small not sure what stage she is, new old etc
do you see eggs and larvae?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm talking about the bee on the left edge of the frame, just below the center of the image vertically. I'm pretty sure that's a queen, just not sure if it's a laying queen.

For reference, I think this is a picture of the queen that was in that colony as of last fall, just left of the center of the image:

IMG_20180901_144325.jpg

And here's another picture of what I believe to be a queen in that colony yesterday, again left/center:

IMG_20190511_140919.jpg
 

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that is definitely a queen left edge of the frame. I would guess she is newly mated by her size but could still be a large virgin.
Give her a week and look for eggs.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Good question on the eggs/larvae, DavidZ. Unfortunately, once I saw the capped queen cells and the unmarked queen I got distracted with splitting the colony and marking her, so I'm not sure. There was definitely capped brood and larger uncapped brood. I don't specifically remember seeing eggs, but maybe I just missed them or didn't look at the right frames.
 

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seeing capped brood and larger larvae means a queen was there at least 8-9 days ago, if you find eggs a queen was there at least 3 days ago.
this one might be laying, or the old queen was superseded within the last week or so and this one is the new queen.
me, I'd check all frames for eggs to try and estimate a timeline
 

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Discussion Starter #10
My other two overwintered colonies had young larvae in queen cells, not yet capped. I didn't spot the queens but there were eggs.

I manipulated all three colonies similarly, basically splitting them as described above. I'm thinking they're probably all going to swarm anyway, despite having plenty of space. They all swarmed last year as well.

I'll give it another year, but if all my colonies swarm again next spring, for the third year in a row, I'll probably just throw in the towel on this hobby.
 
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