I'm just starting to think about making a few nucs - although I probably won't actually start queen-rearing for another fortnight yet. But in order to 'get organised' I pulled a dozen or so drawn frames out of store, and stashed them in an empty Long Hive - one that's situated in a handy position.
Then, half an hour later - I remembered that I needed a drawn frame with which to install a Nicot Laying Cage ... so, back to the Long Hive 'stash'. And, as I started looking through them - I spotted a Queen on one, looking very lost and unloved. She's nothing special - about mid-sized, and jet black. Possibly a virgin ? - no evidence of a mating sign if so. So - popped her in a mailing cage along with a few of her mates, and half an hour later she's full of beans again. Curious event. That was yesterday.
Earlier today, I'm doing an inspection, and out of the corner of my eye I spot an unusually large bee. Looking closer - it's another Queen - but this lady is trying to get into a hive where she's not welcome, and a couple of guards are making that very clear indeed. So - duly rescued her too (along with 2 guard bees which I had to pry off her), and my word she's a cracker - one of the best flying Queens I've ever seen - again, probably a virgin, and again jet black.
I know this one wasn't from the two hives I'd just inspected 'cause those Queens are both coloured 'leather tan' (and far too swollen right now to fly).
I took a trip around the apiary, and again an hour later, and a third check an hour after that - but there's no sign of any colony distress, so I'm fairly confident these ladies haven't originated from this apiary.
Very odd indeed.