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Discussion Starter #1
One of my hives has a deep full of old comb, and I have given them a shallow with wax/wire foundation, which they have not drawn out yet in the last month. I was checking the supers and cleaning the traps today of my four hives, and this was the single one where I looked for brood.

There was no brood - they had filled it all with pollen and nectar. You could see the old covered honey in the upper corners, but the area that should have been brood was jam full of pollen and nectar. Maybe I missed it. Why don't they get going on the nice super frames they have? There is an Albizia (pink silk) tree in bloom, and the Tallow trees are getting started. Maybe the gatherers got ahead of the comb builders? But the other hives seem to be building comb no problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks - I will check again more thoroughly, then either get a mail-order mated queen or give them a frame of new eggs from another hive. Queenlessness would also explain why no new comb, because no young bees, right?

Do you have an opinion on either course of action? New queen would be faster, Frame of larvae would be interesting.

I am very happy with the All-American Italian-type queen I got from R Weaver in Navasota TX last year, so I can mail-order from them. The queen that disappeared was an R Weaver Buckfast, that replaced a "local" queen. I suspect that the old comb (from a commercial beekeeper that went out of business) is causing the low fertility in that hive.
 

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I'd give them a comb of larva, but some that is soon to be capped, that also has a few eggs on it, somewhere. Then, when the replacement queen arrives (if you decide to do that), they won't be quite so stressed. Be sure to destroy any queen cells they may have, even those anywhere in the hive, prior to introducing their replacement queen. And, if you decide to let them requeen themselves, you're ahead of the game.

Actually, queenless bees, generally make very little comb - apparently queen pheromones are important for many different things.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I checked to make sure yesterday, if there were brood they were very small, not more than a few days old, beyond my ability to see them. The same time I decided to give the queen in my most populous hive less room to lay eggs, by putting the queen excluder below the first super. (Looking in my books last night maybe that was a mistake, it seems limited brood area leads to swarming). I found about 20 queen cells and cups on the bottoms of 4 of the super frames. I had set the super down on a pallet, so most of the queen cells were damaged but maybe one and some cups were OK. I gave 3 of those frames to the queenless hive, and so now I wait 9 days?

I realized yesterday that I should have checked the bottoms of the frames in the brood chamber of the populous hive for queen cells, I will do that first thing this morning, and give them another super.
 
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