How long can they do without a queen? / First spring inspection
It was a nice enough day out today (4/7) to get my first look into my two hives. This is my second year, though I got a late start last year. Both hives only have 2 brood bodies with 10 frames with foundation in each box. I got into hive 1 and the top box had loads of honey and full of bees. I got into the second box and it was just full of bees. I couldn't find the queen, eggs or any larva at all. So it looks like she has died. How long can the colony go without a queen? They have been coming out during the day and bringing back pollen. I've also been giving them a little bit of 1:1 syrup each day since I had no idea how much stores they had left and nothing is really blooming yet, but some trees since they are bringing back pollen. Both hives came as 5 frame nucs. About 2 weeks after I hived the nucs, hive 1 it decided to replace their queen. The one they had didn't seem to be very good, she had a poor laying pattern so the new queen was very young still going into winter and couldn't have died from old age.
Hive 2 still had a lot of honey in the top box, but a mouse had spent sometime in the bottom box. It chewed several of the foundations and made a pile of wax and seeds in one corner. No nest and it wasn't in the box, so I cleaned that up best I could. Hive 2 appears to still have a queen. I saw eggs and even a few capped larva.
I could move over a frame of eggs n larva from hive 2 and put it into hive 1 and let them raise a queen. Both hives were Italians. But thinking about re-queening with a Russian queen. So again how long can they go without a queen and what will they do in the meantime without one?
Re: How long can they do without a queen? / First spring inspection
Without a queen, they will not be able to maintain/increase their population. They will be much more reluctant to build comb. Sooner or later, they will allow laying workers to take the place of a queen, filling many worker combs with drone brood, making them look very sad. The entire time they are queenless they will be dwindling, and once the laying workers run rampant, the remaining population will use all their remaining resources to nurture those drones being produced by the laying workers. Once that happens, it will be extremely difficult for them to become queenright again, they are on a terminal spiral, down, down, down. . .
It would be a very good thing to carefully give them a frame/comb with eggs, but careful not to disrupt the other colony, too much.