Oy, I wish I'd stop learning from my OWN mistakes, and perhaps from reading about others. That said...
One of my hives was much less active than my others, so I took a look in last week. (I should mention spring has sprung out here on the west north coast of California - everything is popping with blooms).
They had some bees in both (medium) boxes, and some brood, but only a few were capped and they were drones. As I looked at one frame, a queen ran across it right in front of me. Didn't seem to have any attendants, at least not that I could tell.
Looked in yesterday. The larvae is capped, and they're ALL drones, so I suspect either a drone layer OR laying workers. Why laying workers? Because I saw some eggs in some cells, laid near the top, doubles, etc. To me, that says laying workers. This queen may have been a supercedure queen last Fall, not sure. They were a swarm I captured last summer.
I killed the queen, since she obviously isn't laying worker brood at ALL (if, indeed, it was her laying the eggs).
So now I have a problem. If I DO have laying workers, is this hive doomed? I was planning on joining it with my stronger hive, since the age of the bees means there are probably few nurse bees left. In addition, I have the problem that this hive is all on mediums, and my other hives are all on deeps (d'oh!!).
I don't want to risk having these bees kill the queen in one of my queenright hives, if in fact they have laying workers.
Should I shake out the bees a distance from the beeyard, hope that the laying workers can't make it back, THEN combine them with the other hive? I think it's too early to get a queen, even out here, and she might well be killed anyway if they're laying workers.
I'd LOVE any suggestions folks might have.