No excuses, but I've been slowly harvesting the past couple of weeks. I finally got around to working two of my stronger colonies, filled six medium supers each. Each of these two colonies were headed by locally raised and open mated Cordovan Italian queens, raised by me from Koehnen produced queens, or daughters of Koehnen produced queens. They were very vigorous and quite productive, building strong colonies that grew quickly with a small amount of early stimulative feeding - hauling in at least 200 lbs each of Mesquite honey. The only fault I had with them was that they were open mated and few of their workers were also Cordovan, though all of their drones are. I will call them Hive A and Hive B.
Yesterday, while examining hive A, I noticed that on the bottom of two adjacent frames were some very nice looking ripe queen cells, which had all been destroyed when I pulled their frames out for examination (they had been interconnected between comb faces). So after removing the remnants of these queen cells, I proceeded to very thoroughly examine the rest of the brood nest. I could not locate the old queen, or evidence of her recent presence (no eggs or young larvae), most brood was either capped or emerging. I carefully made sure there were no other queen cells in the hive, then I gave them a frame of just hatching eggs from one of my current Cordovan mother queens (this morning there were several emergency queen cells started on this frame).
Hive B - This morning hive B was the last hive on my agenda to be examined. To all outward appearances it was like any of my other very productive hives. It still had four full honey supers above the entrance rim (I had already harvested two), but once I had taken them off and set them aside, I soon noticed that the top brood super was honey and pollen bound, though one frame had the remnant of a queen cell in its center. After carefully examining each frame for the queen or any brood, I set that super aside and began examining the bottom of the two brood supers. This bottom brood super was very similar to the top brood super, though it was predominantly pollen bound. There was not a single cell of brood present in either brood super. Not even any capped brood, there were small areas on two combs where cells were empty, but none contained eggs. I saw no sign of a queen, and no queen cells or queen cell remnants. I placed a frame with eggs and young larvae from one of my Cordovan mother hives into their top brood super. I moved the honey supers to other strong hives, until I harvest them, and to make it easier to monitor hive B until they are queenright again.
Since there was no brood, not even from laying workers. Perhaps that is a sign that somewhere, in there, a virgin queen may be hiding. I will keep checking on the frame of hatching eggs I just gave them. If they start raising queens, then this colony is another to add to the mysteries of the honeybee.
Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 06-18-2008 at 05:03 PM.