Going into my 2nd year, I have a strange situation. 4 hives, all 8 frame mediums. All survived winter and still have plenty of honey stores. It was warm enough the past few weekends for me to inspect more than peeking under the hood.
3 hives have eggs, young larvae, capped brood and are going well. The 4th is not dwindling but the first time I checked (24 Feb) it appeared there was no queen. I only saw capped drones, and no eggs or larvae. I saw only one small patch of multiple eggs in a few cells (maybe 15 cells).
I assumed something happened to the queen Ė she was an original that was with the package last year. I placed 2 frames of eggs/larvae/capped brood from another hive in the apparent queenless one and marked the frames.
1 week later (Mar 3rd) I checked the 2 added frames in #4, and there were capped brood, but no queen cells. I checked all the other frames in #4 and there was no evidence of laying workers, so hopefully the eggs/larvae frames suppressed that.
There are drones wandering in all the hives, so the potential to mate is there.
Just to be safe, on 3 March I placed a third frame of eggs/larvae from another hive in #4, just to see what would happen. I marked this one with a different color. It has been 4 full days now since the latest frame addition, so If I check it this afternoon (7 March), I should see evidence of a queen cup or some sort of queen cell if they are queenless, correct?
Could it be that the laying worker pheromone is strong enough to suppress queen making? why wouldn't there be more multiple eggs in cells if there was a laying worker?
Could it be that there is a queen (I really stink at spotting them) but she just hasnít started laying yet? It seems awfully late with no brood.
Been there before. I'll give it 2 to 3 tries with eggs from another hive...if no queen cells by then its time to re-queen, combine (have to be very careful), or dump depending on your situation. No sense stifling the other hives on the stubborn queenless one.
If the hive had superseded/swarmed, it might take a new queen to get the hang of it but adter a few weeks you should have normal results. Also, if they had tried to develop a new queen, it is possible it was too early to mate and you get a drone layer.