I'm looking for input as to the correct course of action to take. I did an inspection of my hives today and have 1 that I'm concerned about. This hive came from a swarm that was queenless. A new queen was introduced and accepted over a month ago. The hive has 2 deep brood boxes. The lower box has 8-9 frames of capped and uncapped brood and some food stores, pollen and honey. The upper box has 2-3 frames of capped and open brood. Food store are also present. All the frames in the upper box are not fully drawn. These were new frames of wired foundation. There are not enough bees to cover all the frames in both boxes.
I assume you moved a brood frame or two up when you added the super. Bees will only occupy the number of frames in the hive that can be completely covered by the population. If there's not enough population to cover all the frames the bees won't draw comb on the uncovered frames. Bees will move off of storage combs/frames. The brood chamber can be enlarged by 2 frames by hop-scotching the outer frames out ward and moving undrawn frames to replace them. Thge bees will then move off of the storage frames and begin drawing the 2 newly moved frames and the queen will also begin laying eggs in those same frames. This is the way to speed up hive development or correct a honeybound hive.
My concern is that there are 2 capped queen cells. These are both on the same frame in the lower brood box. 1 cell is on the lower most section of the frame. The other cell is about centered vertically on the frame. The brood pattern is very good and there are few drone cells. I did see the queen during the inspection. I have not added a honey super because the upper brood box was not fully drawn out and the bees have ample room.
These sound like supercedure cells, such activity is not uncommon in packaged bees. It can also be observed in the cases of when a swarm has a virgin queen and she doesn't measure up to the expectation of the bees.
The weather here for the last week has been cold with heavy rains. The weather was bad enough that all bees were confined to their hive for a week straight. This could lead to swarming. I'm trying to keep this hive strong and building up. Our nectar flow is just going to be starting, and I was hoping to get honey from this hive. If I split it, no honey production this year from that hive.
Some times it is better to forego a honey crop and develop the hive numbers (more options) than to even consider a honey crop. On a 1st year hive a honey crop shouldn't be expected unless the bees are placed on drawn combs to begin with.
How are the stores overall. Brood producation requires a huge commitment of honey and pollen to grow the hive and the hive might not be able to sustain both. I've had hives (Italians are notorious for this) that will commit all it's resources to brood production and then when a weather problem (as you've described) comes along the hive starves in a matter of a week or two.
They will first consume any honey stores, then the eggs, progress through the larvae and even the "in the white pupae" leaving only fully developed, unhatched, brood in the cells.
Here's how I see my options;
1) Do nothing and see what happens. worst choice in my opinion
This is not your worst option, it can be one of the better ones depending upon available stores, or limited feeding.
2) Move frames of brood to the upper box and move undrawn frames from the upper box to open up the brood chamber. Cut out the queen cells for use in a different hive. (I have a queenless swarm to put them in.)
NEVER EVER cut out queen cells, it's the the best way to go queenless there is, unless you need to requeen a hive. This might be your best choice, but make sure the bees haven't offed the queen being superceded before removing any queen cells and then only remove one. Opening up the brood chamber by moving the outer frames occupied by the loose cluster of bees outward and replaceing with undrawn combs is a good idea as the bees will move off of storage combs but not off of brood combs.
3) Capture the queen and move her and some brood and bees to a Nuc. (Make a split)
This is also a good option, this will let you see what happens with the queen, if the bees begin supercedure again, then let it happen because the bees are going to continue attempts to supercede her until they are successful.
4) Move the frame with the queen cells to a Nuc along with a frame or 2 of brood and their bees, plus some stores. (Make a split) I think my best option, but not what I want to do because this would take this hive out of honey production.
When doing a split it is always better to move the existing queen rather than the queen cells to simulate the swarm response but options 2 or 3 are better. Again what is better: a honey crop or a larger apiary with more options?
5) Option 2, plus add a super to give more room.
I'm sure there are options I'm missing. What would you recommend?
They don't need more room, if you have more than 4 undrawn frames don't even consider giving them more room. Also the hive isn't crowded until all the frames are fully drawn, full of brood and capped stores, and have begun building burr comb.
You aren't missing much, your options pretty much covered the available. I've indicated those options I would support and those I wouldn't. Now it's your decission on which option you choose.