Starting in late May, a overwintered hive should be inspected every 7 days to look for swarm cells. The swarm cells should be cut out before they are capped.
Normally when swarm cells are capped, the bees swarm at this time.
|Swarm cells, usually on the bottom of a frame, but can be in other locations.|
When beekeeper looks in their hive and sees capped swarm cells. Normally there will be no eggs or small larvae on any frames. This is an indicator that the hive has swarmed. Or if the beekeeper looks in the colony and sees very little brood and really can't find swarm cells, the first impulse is to purchase a new queen. The hive could have swarmed. Sometimes the bees tear down the swarm cells and leaves a beekeeper unsure of what has happened. If a new queen is put into the hive and there is a queen in the hive already, the new queen will be killed by the newly hatched queen.
I think a good way to confirm what is happening is this: Take a frame of eggs and put it in the broodless hive. If the bees start making queen cells on the frames with eggs, we could surmise the hive has no queen. If the frame with eggs develops normally, the assumption is that a queen is present and has not started to lay yet