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When I inspected the hive tonight it was getting late so I did not get to do a full inspection. My intent was just to give them some syrup and a pollen Patty, but I couldn't help looking at a few frames. The hive started as a Nuc about three weeks ago, the queen emerged between 10 days in 17 days ago. I saw the queen five days ago, she looked good but had not started laying yet. Tonight I fairly quickly inspected about half the frames (8). I did not see any eggs or larva but I did see about five or six queen cups. One of them looked like a pretty significant queen cell about halfway up the frame. The bottom was open and the workers were working inside of it, I assume they were putting in royal jelly but not sure. I saw no signs of eggs or larva so I assume they were just cups without any larva in them to become queens. Keep in mind it was approaching nighttime so I didn't have good light and could have missed very small larva or eggs. I am interested in your thoughts about what's going on or what I should do. My biggest concern is that they are already thinking about swarming and are making preparations for that. My hope is that this is normal precautionary behavior that the bees take until they know that the queen is well mated and in control of the hive.

I will do a full inspection on Saturday and will be able to tell more about what is going on then but I am interested in your comments in the meantime.
 

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The queen cups are meaningless until you see them with a layer of white royal jelly and a larvae in them. Or an egg. After three days it is usually OK to release the queen into a package or a split which this was. Your queen should be laying by now and would have been if released after three or four days. Since it appears she sat another two weeks getting stale in the cage she may indeed not be laying yet. My advice is to stay out of there for a full week. Then go in and pull an outside frame and then start pulling frames until you find eggs or larvae and then close it up and stay out for another couple of weeks before bothering them again. At that time you will have capped brood and can tell if she is laying properly. Goo luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Vance for the comment. Just to clarify, when I brought the nuc home the queen was still in a queen cell so this is not a case of a mature queen being released. It seemed strange to see such a large queen cell if she has not started laying. It also seemed strange for them to make it so soon after she emerged. They are drawing out the new frames nicely and collecting a lot of nectar/honey so I will add a box this weekend but I did not think that they are overcrowded.
 

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For what it is worth. I have noticed certain colonies i have always seem to have a few queen cups on hand. I think it is a trait in certain breeds, I believe Russians posses this trait??? I would do as suggested and leave em alone for another week. You could also find the queen and ask her if she has had any action lately? If not smack some lipstick on her and send her out for an evening on the town..
 

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Discussion Starter #5
When I saw her last weekend I assumed she was well mated because she was smoking a little cigarette and looked absolutely exhausted.
 

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Most colonies have a few cups around. Russians will often have a queen cell with larvae that they keep starting and tearing down.

As Vance said, the cups don't mean a lot until there is an egg or larvae in them. Leave them alone for a week and there is good chance you will find eggs/brood then
 
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