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This colony overwintered, but wasn't building up, so I dropped the old queen in alcohol on 4/28 and put in a new marked Italian queen. I think I may have screwed up by putting the queen cage at the bottom of a frame, away from all the bees. On 5/1 she hadn't been released, and there weren't many bees around her cage, so I manually released her. She walked back in among the bees, and they didn't seem to ball her or attack her, so I assumed all was good.

Yesterday, 5/11, which is 13 days after dequeening but only 10 days after releasing the new queen, I inspected and saw a tiny queen that is definitely _not_ my purchased Italian queen, running around. She's not marked, and she's much darker than the queen I put in, so I'm sure it's not the Italian.

At first I wasn't even sure she was a queen, because she wasn't very big. Her abdomen was pointy, and she had the larger, shiny thorax that I normally associate with queens, but she was small. And runny as heck! I had to flip the frame over 3-4 times before I could get her into a queen clip. But once I got her into the clip, she couldn't get out, and within a few minutes the clip was surrounded by workers.

I also saw no eggs or wet brood. There may have been some capped brood, but I don't remember.

So the only timeline that makes sense in my mind is:
  • I dequeened on 4/28, but I put the new queen (confined) in the wrong place, so the bees started a new queen from a young larva
  • I released the queen on 5/1, and they killed her.
  • Yesterday, 5/11, I saw a newly emerged virgin queen, which is why she's small.

Does that math work? I didn't look for empty queen cells, because my brain froze up when I saw the little queen.

Do virgin queens run around a lot? I'm accustomed to queens behaving like they're "listening to Schubert or Brahms." This one was definitely Aerosmithing.
 

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Bees start making Queens from 1-2 day old larvae, so it is already at day 4-5 of the 16 days cycle.
So it sounds like you missed seeing a developing Queen cell when you requeened (which is not hard to do at that stage of development).

The Virgin may have killed the released Queen, and yes they do run.
 

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Yup, virgins run around like a world class sprinter lol. Seeing as how she’s of the same gene line as the the colony the workers wouldn’t even think twice about letting her off the new one. Probably the telltale sign was that they hadn’t chewed thru to release her.
 
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