It would be VERY helpful to know where you are. If you're in Australia or Florida the assessment would be much different than if your are in Massachusetts or Nebraska.
>I checked my hive today for the first time in about 3 weeks. I have been working crazy hours and haven't been home to check it.
The hive is not quite a year old and I have been feeding them sugar water for the winter, along with leaving last spring/summers honey stores in place.
They usually gobble up that sugar water pretty fast, and I noticed that they haven't been, and the hive entry hasn't had nearly the activity that it usually does.
I certainly wouldn't be feeding syrup to bees in a cold climate unless they were starving...
> I knew something may not be right, but as I said, haven't been home at a decent hour to do anything about it.
I checked today and cannot find the queen. I checked each tray multiple times. I did find 2 Queen cells and evidence of more being built, or they had started to build and abandoned.
I assume from this you're in a warm climate? Or has it been so warm that the bees have been building up as if it's April?
>One of the 2 queen cells WAS capped, but it was on the first tray I removed and was attached to the tray next to it. When I removed the tray, I tore away the cap.
I haven't heard the term "tray" used except on those boxes of Mann lake PF120s I have... I assume we are talking about frames/combs.
>I didn't see it until it was too late. It is full of royal jelly and is intact except for the cap.
They probably will remove the queen, but sometimes they recap it.
>Should I buy a new queen?
Again, if you are in the US and it is now January, you cannot buy a queen.
>What are the chances that the Queen cells are Queen layed larvae, not worker layed?
They will build queen cells from worker laid larvae, but you would see a lot of multiple eggs and they would have big eyed drone puapae in the queen cells...
>There is NO brood in the hive except for the queen cells.
If you are somewhere it is warm and drones are flying (which would not be anywhere in the Northern US) then I would assume they swarmed since you have queen cells and no brood. But emergency queens wouldn't be out of the question.