tl;dr version: New hive is buzzing loud, and rain has parked here for a bit. Do I panic inspect between rain clouds, or wait 'til clear?
One of 2, my first hives. Installed in early/mid May, 3# packages w/ a Carni queen. This hive has been eloquently named "Hive #2." Two weeks ago was the last inspection. I did not verify a queen or eggs, but since everyone seemed happy, good brood pattern, etc... I rushed the check a bit to limit the time in the hive. I had 6 full frames drawn and about 30% on one side of frame #7 drawn. (10 frames total.) I was also using a top feeder from MannLake (the black plastic tub style.) The bees were only barely taking feed. One of the problems was the INSANE number of carpenter ants setting up a market in the feeder, along with the bee drowning issues. Things needed fixing.
Last week, I changed the feeders to top feeders I picked up from Dadant. The open tub style with wooden float "palettes." Along with that, I added a second deep brood box with 10 frames. I also made a concoction of motor oil and cinnamon and painted the stand support post with that. (Home-built stands, 4x4 post planted in the ground with a platform on top.) Welcome to internet advice on getting rid of ants.
This past Sunday, I opened the tops just to add syrup. At hive #1, most of the syrup had been taken (the floats were still floating, but at the bottom.) No dead bees!! I, and it seems my girls LOVE these feeders! As I was finishing up filling the feeder, I reached in to pluck out a dead bee (not drowned, local corrupt coroner refused to do an autopsy. ,) when one of the residents decided to go jihad on my thumb. Covered that hive and moved to the subject of this long story, Hive #2.
I opened the top and was pretty pleased. Hive #1 was taking more syrup than this one on the old feeder. Now... NO ANTS, and these little girls had cleaned up EVERY DROP of syrup. The feeder was FILLED with bees looking for anything left, and I could see them all over the bars on the top brood box. However... I did notice that this hive was a LOT "buzzier" than #1. Being a bit gun-shy from #1, I marched off and fired up the smoker. HA HA HA!! I gave them more syrup and planned on coming back yesterday or today to re-fill the feeders, assuming they were producing comb on the new foundation as fast as I could get them the syrup. While feeding Hive #2, I noticed a HUGE number of girls that went to the top and started fanning like mad. Smoke wasn't moving them anywhere. I finished up and shoved them in.
The weather has taken a turn for the rainy side. I decided that it would be better to wait before opening the hives, they don't really need the syrup at this point, it would just be nice to help speed up the comb building process. I called my Dad (the hives are on his property,) to say I was going to wait 'til Sunday to inspect. He said he looked at them today during a break in the rain.
Dad knows less than me about bees, here was his "report:"
"They seemed a bit lethargic, but some were coming and going. You could hear them inside."
I asked, "Which one could you hear, the one on the right?"
He replied, "Yea, it was buzzing away."
Uh Oh... Loud and "buzzy" for a week, I have a bad feeling about this...
I've read enough here and elsewhere that this could be an indication of a queenless hive. While I know I should do a thorough inspection, the weather calls for a 50% chance or better of showers until about the 5th. As it's a 45 min drive to the hives, it's a bit hard to coordinate a "go now!" time to inspect with my work schedule.
1) Should I be worried that the hive my be queenless?
2) If I am supposed to be fretting here, should I run and open the hives the second I get a break in the weather, or is it better to wait until I get a good, clear day?
3) If the hive has lost the queen, should I find a new one, or hope for the hive to fix it? I'm worried that there aren't many local hives to mate with a virgin queen.