Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
Should Tracy and I have lots of drones and drone cells???? It seems that our first hive has lots of bees and they are crowded and lots of drones and I am concerned they are going to swarm and if they swarm will we still have bees there? Did not see a queen cell, is that only in the center of the comb?
We have a top bar hive, and had a fair-large number of drones this spring. They're clearing out now. A handful of queen cups on the edge of random bars; Joe Wesbrook said it's fine and normal. Apparently it's *really* obvious when you have a queen cell going. Brood on 7 bars, but doesn't look too crazy yet. Our girls put together three bars of honey over the last two weeks, so we moved that back and added a bar of empty comb into the brood chamber. Expecting it will be fine, especially with no sign of a queen cell yet.
Queen cells are found scattered in the center of the comb for supercedure cells, and on the bottom edges for swarm cells. They look like peanut shells hanging down, so they are pretty obvious. From your description, you don't have any queen cells, so they are not getting ready to swarm right now. I have tons of drone cells in my hives. This is swarm season, and colonies that swarm end up with a virgin queen. Colonies produce lots of drone at this time in an attempt to spread their genes around to all the virgin queens who are out there. There is some thought that the drones may provide some other function in the hive, so the workers tolerate them through the summer, but kick then out when they are not needed any more. Life as a drone is really hard. You either get to mate, and die, or you get to hang around for a while and then get kicked out and die. Drones will also drift from hive to hive, so you don't really know where they came from if you see one walking around in your hive.
Julie - We've had lots of drone cells too in our one year old hive. We did give them more empty bars on the edges of the brood chamber to help in case they were feeling crowded as we thought they may have started a swarm cell - it didn't look full on like a swarm cell but it wasn't a normal looking cell either. Last week though the weird looking cell was gone (two weeks after we initially saw it), so they must have liked the extra bars. And there were lots of drones in the hive and still plenty of drone cells being made. Hubby will check them again next weekend. Good luck!
I agree with comments above, if you did not see queen cells then they are not preparing to swarm. Ted described the different queen cells above (swarm vs supercedure). Do you see worker cells, larva, freshly capped brood? If all you see is drone cells then you may have a problem. it does not sound like that is the case though. I would be happy to stop by on Monday after work to take a quick look at your hive. Give me a call. I think you have my number. You can email me also firstname.lastname@example.org