This afternoon, after opening my new Tew-style observation hive to replace the frame into the colony from which it came, I looked carefully on both sides to make sure the queen was going back where I wanted her. And she wasn't on either side of the frame. I saw that she had run out of the observation hive the moment I opened the Plexiglas and was sitting on the outer cover I had placed beside to opened colony.
I took my bee brush and placed it next to her and moved my other hand to encourage her to walk up on the brush. For a split second, it looked like all was well. But then she flew into the air, and went behind my head faster than I could turn to keep my eye on her. I am wearing "progressive lens" glasses these days, and those of you my age who wear this kind of specs know you have the advantage of a full range of visual clarity from far to mid to near, but the disadvantage is that your clear peripheral vision is limited.
In the hope the queen would follow the flight patterns of the workers who were alighting and resettling on the tops of the exposed frames, I left the inner cover off for about 5 minutes. But I did not actually SEE her return to her hive.
Is it logical to hope that she will eventually navigate back to the entrance of her hive, or is it more likely that she is lost?
Probably in these cases it's best to leave the lid off for a hour or so to give her a chance to smell the nasonov. From my experience I'd say it's a 50/50 chance she will return. I'd check back in about three days and see what the status is. If she didn't make it and there's any eggs they will have started a queen cell and you'll know you need a queen. If you see fresh eggs you'll know she's laying.
I never posted this before because I figured no one would believe it. I had purchased a marked queen to introduce in a hive which I thought was queenless. By the time my new queen arrived, I realized I had a queen in the original hive, so I started a nuc with the extra queen. Subsequently, the nuc was infested with wax moths and I pulled the frames and set them in my vegetable garden for the fire ants to clean up. A couple of weeks later I was examining the hive that had been adjacent to the nuc and found the new queen! I know it was the same queen because it is the only marked queen I've ever owned. She must've killed the incumbent queen, and she now reigns happily in her new hive.
Sometimes they do that. Go back to the WRONG hive.
I've had this situation twice. The first time, I was inspecting a hive with a recently hatched virgin. She must have flown up, and didn't really know her way back, because some time later I spotted a cluster growing on the outside of the hive, where she'd landed. I'll be very wary of opening a hive in that situation again.
Second time was a couple of monthes ago. I'd just marked a newly mated queen when she flew up. Next time I checked the hive, there she was. It wouldn't have mattered if she had got lost as there were two other queens laying away in there. I suspect that once a queen has had a chance to do an orientation flight, she can find her way back pretty well, but they seem to get a bit confused sometimes and end up in the wrong place.