After 2 weeks, it was time for a visit.
In one of the hives, we found two royal cells like the one below. This swarm decided to raise 2 new queens, despite already having one. A queen is a regular bee nourished exclusively on royal jelly (a super proteined honey). The queen doesn’t lay a queen egg. It’s the worker bees who decide when they will raise one of the eggs to become a queen, by feeding it with more royal jelly than the others. (In this case, the first born kills the other royal cell and the current queen would leave the hive with part of the colony, this is called swarming).
Since the current queen is young and from this year, this is not normal. We suppose (after consulting our bee keeper teacher) that the reason for this is because the queen is not the same race: the queen is a black bee (Apis melifera melifera), because she can adapt to the colder environment here in the Ardeche, whereas the colony from the bee keeper is mostly Italian bees (very very docile). When you purchase a swarm (in France) you get 5 frames with bees and a new queen born either at the end of last season or the season you acquire them.
To avoid conflict in the hive we had to remove the 2 royal cells. At this time in the season, losing an already fertilized queen would be fatal to the colony, since the time it would take for one of the new queens to get fertilized & start laying eggs (30 days), would be too late to grow the colony to be robust enough to survive the winter.