Our first two years as beekeepers, we used 8-frame langs with package bees. First package, we received a dead queen and had to requeen immediately, left her in the cage five days, but still ended up losing that queen and (mostly because of our inexperience) ended up with laying workers. The next year, package bees, great summer, then lost the hive to yellow jackets in August because we had the hive ventilated far too generously.
We've done bee college and twice took the beekeeper 8-week class -- I swear we really are trying to do our homework and research
Last year, starting over for the third time, we decided to try a Warre. We found a hexagonal warre, caught a swarm, and they did great -- far better than when we used a Lang. Our bees overwintered well. No issues with moisture, really strong colony. I saw the first pollen going in February 8 this year. We under-nadired a new box, but we were too late (everything has been about a month ahead of usual here). It wasn't soon enough. On Sunday, we watched a good-sized swarm vacate the hive from start to finish. We were both amazed and dismayed. We caught the swarm easily, and walked them across the street -- our neighbor had an empty hive and needed bees, and we didn't have any boxes ready for a new hive.
So. Now we have a queenless hive.
We do have some fixed comb, and this week, temps are mid-50s. Saturday -- six days after the swarm -- we have snow and freezing temps forecasted.
So. Do I let the hive continue to raise a new queen, and hope that she makes it back mated and well? While I love our Warre, we have kept inspections to a minimum and this is one time I wish we could check more throughly. Checking for eggs, watching for laying workers, won't be very effective. Do we just watch for pollen and hope for the best?
Or, do I take a more managed approach while queens are available, open the hive, destroy the queen cells I see, and intro a new (but not feral) queen?
I don't want to do that to the hive, but I also don't want to lose this colony.
Thanks for any suggestions.