I have a hive of Italians that were hived as a package the first week of May. During the first inspection 2 weeks later, the queen had a decent brood pattern. I looked in about 2 weeks later, and there were no eggs, no larva, just a bit of capped brood, no queen cells. I had a nuc with a new Italian queen in it, so I combined with newspaper, and about a week later I checked again. There are no eggs, no larva, just a very small amount of capped brood, and NO QUEEN. I have placed a frame of eggs in two days ago, but haven't checked yet. My question is this, could the original queen still be in there? There are no laying workers, as there are no eggs, it acts like a queenright hive, but no brood? What are my options at this point??
Anytime they lose the old queen and raise a new queen there is a period of time where you end up with no brood at all and no eggs. It takes 24 days or so to get from a 4 day old larva to a laying queen. Thats enough time for all the brood to emerge. It's two weeks from when the queen emerges until I would expect to see her laying.
But that time seems to have passed on yours. My guess is you'll soon have laying workers or there's a queen in there that isn't laying. If the old queen isn't laying, I'll bet they will raise one from the eggs you put in. If there is no queen and no laying workers they should raise a queen from them and if there is laying workers you might try putting in another two frames of brood in about a week. The pheromones from the open brood may supress the laying workers enough that the bees will raise a queen. If none of that works, I'd probably shake them out somewhere and let them wander into the other hives on their own.
I found one or two eggs on one of the frames, I think the old queen is still in there somewhere, but I haven't been able to locate her. The eggs were in the very bottom of the cell, just where a queen would put them. They hadn't done anything with the frame of brood I put in. So I broke it up into 3 nucs to attempt to locate the queen. I also had some swarm cells that one of the other hives had, so I placed one in each of the nucs that I think doesn't have the queen, and left the frame of brood with the one I think the queen is in. I locked them into the nuc so they can't fly. We'll see???