Inspected Top Bar hive today. The broodnest area looks to be largely full of honey/nectar, very little brood, just a few capped old brood. No larvae, no eggs. We did find what we think are 2-3 supercedure cells, two of which were mushed and torn a bit when bar was pulled out. Saw larvae within. Third cell looked dark and closed. There's some room for a queen to lay but nothing in it. We almost never are able to find the queen and didn't this time. Again, no eggs or uncapped brood that we could see.
We were feeding because there were almost no honey stores and tons of brood, now there's a lot of capped honey and no brood. We'll stop feeding to let them make room in the nest, but are wondering:
- does lack of eggs/brood mean she just ran out of room and/or it's that time of year?
- does lack of eggs/brood and presence of cells suggest she's dead/something's wrong? This was not an old queen and previously was going gangbusters with brood.
- should we hope for the best?
- or, given the lateness of the year, try to obtain a queen and see if the hive is interested?
This is our only hive right now, so we don't have brood to pull from another hive. Weather is currently pleasant but it is fall and it will start cooling off soon. There may be drones around from other hives/colonies, but we sure don't have any.