We did not take this picture- we borrowed it from drone.cyberbee.net
Worker bees can "make" a queen from any egg (except a drone egg) they choose. They just have to feed the larvae Royal Jelly, a substance nurse bees produce, and viola! A queen is born!
There are two reasons workers would make a new queen. If the bees are out of room and the hive is too crowded, the workers will produce a new queen and the old queen will take half of the colony and "swarm". They will take off and find a new place to live. This would cut our colony and honey production in half. Not a good situation. These swarm cells typically show up on the bottom third of the frames. The other reason they might want a queen would be to replace the current queen. If the current queen is not getting the job done and laying the proper number or types of eggs, the workers might want to "supercede" her. These supercedure cells typically show up on the upper two thirds of the frames.
Now this cell that we saw in Georgia's hive was on the bottom of the frame- I think. This would make it a swarm cell. But Georgia has plenty of room with only 5 frames drawn out in comb. We have wondered about Georgia's queen as she is lagging behind Virginia and thought that the workers might want to supercede her. In any case, if it even was a queen cell, we figured it would still be there next week and we could take a better look and decide what to do about it at that time. But let's be optimistic and, for now, say that it is just a drone cell and all is well.
Last of all- we have found our new smoker fuel! We switched form natural fiber twine to cedar chips from a bag of pet litter we got at the grocery store. We got a few coals going in the bottom and packed in the cedar chips. It smoked well the entire time! When the chips got a little low it was easy to put in another handful. Besides that, the smoke just smelled so good!
We will inspect again later this week and update some more then. Bye.