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We are just coming out of winter here in northern Utah, but on warm days the bees have been bringing in copious amounts of pollen. I thought I would take a look to make sure everything was going ok. I found eggs, larvae, and capped brood, but all of it was in a very spotty pattern. Then I found one lone open queen cell in the middle of one of the combs. I am assuming the queen did not fair well over the winter and they are preparing to replace her. My only worry is, as I said before, we are just coming out of winter, and I don't know if any drones in the neighborhood will be ready for her mating flight.
I have thought of purchasing a mated queen, but local queens will not be available for quite some time. What are the chances of my newly raised queen being successful? Can I get the hive to last somehow for another 1.5+ months until I can buy local? Should I order a queen from warmer climes?

Allen
 

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I wouldn't worry quite yet.

The bees having an unused queen cell on stand-bye is pretty normal, and spotty brood this early in the season could simply mean that she's just getting started and laid in cells that had only recently been emptied of stores.

Even if there is a problem, like you said there is nothing you can do about it right now. You can't stop them from offing a queen they don't like, and if you can't purchase a queen then you just can't purchase a queen.

Hakuna Matata, you're just going to have to trust that the bees know what they're doing.
 

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I ran across this same problem yesterday when I did my hive inspection. Found plenty of eggs, larvae, a queen, and a chewed open queen cell, and another one in the making with a fresh egg. Only found 1 drone in my hive, so they can't be that plentiful in the neighborhood. I read in another beesource post that it takes 2 weeks for newly hatched drones to be viable. I will check the cell with the fresh egg in another 7 days to see if it is capped. At that point, I'll try and figure out which queen to remove to my observation hive indoors. I really don't have enough brood at this point to make up a nuc, but a queen excluder for a virgin/poorly mated queen isn't going to do much good either. At least in an observation hive, I can watch what is going on all the time. (just have to convince my better half that I need to keep some bees in the house for a few weeks)
 
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