This past weekend (March 9th-10th in near Charlottesville, Virginia) I fond two queens hanging out on the outside of hives in two days. I am totally perplexed by this and would love to hear what you all think is going on. I will try to include as much info as I can.
On Saturday around 3pm I noticed a small clump of bees hanging out on the south side of a two story nuc at the lid. After a few hours I decided to go check them out and in amongst the 30 or so bees was a nice unmarked Carni queen. I opened up the nuc (my note on outside of the nuc said that it had an unmarked queen) and it had brood of all stages including eggs and I did not spot a queen so I released her into the nuc figuring she belonged there. She slowly walked along the top bar and the bees made a great double high circle around her and fanned with great excitement. I did not see any sign of aggression. The population was low so reduced the nuc down to one story as I saw robber bees testing the reduced front entrance. I had a scrap of 2" foam on top of the hive and I moved it over to the top of another hive about 20ft away.
On Sunday at 5:30 I was just about to head out to town and took a quick stroll through the bee yard. Darn it if I did not see another strange clump of bees on the south side of the hive that I moved the foam too. I figured that it was just the left over queen pheromones attracting bees but upon closer inspection there was yet another unmarked dark carni queen. I had to run so I quickly put her in a queen cage and slipped her in the same nuc as the saturday queen figuring that it was the same queen on the run again.
On Monday I checked out the nuc and it was queenright with an unmarked queen so I marked both queens with unique double yellow dots and took photos of each. I looked in about 15 hives (I have 43 in this yard) around the two hives that I picked the queens off of and every one had a marked queen. So at a loss as to where she belonged I made up a new queenless nuc and put her cage in it.
Here is a link to photos of the two that I marked...
#2 was the sunday queen which I caged. #1 was the one in the nuc which I think is the one I released into it on Saturday.
Both queens I picked up were mated so I don't believe that it was a virgin on a mating flight
As both were unmarked when i found them they could have been the same queen...
I am wondering if it is a supersedure queen and the mother stayed in the hive and the daughter decided to take a walk....but suicide with nights below freezing and only 20 or so attendants.
I did not see any queen cells in any of the hives I looked in and every one looked healthy
What do you think?