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Discussion Starter #1
Colony was new last year. Overwintered great with lots of honey left over this spring. Things were looking normal up to 3-4 weeks ago.

But yesterday a full-hive exam found most of the honey consumed, not much sign of new honey, and not much brood, if any. Never did find any eggs, but I am new. Seemed to be an abundance of some larger bees to my untrained eye, but they did not seem as large as some big brute drones I've seen. They seemed edgy, whereas two other first-year colonies I have nearby in TBH's seemed quite calm about my examining their hives.

Could not find the queen, but may have been my inexperience. If I am unsure about having a healthy queen, what's your advice about ordering a new queen now just in case, and introduce her? Too late in the year? What if there is a healthy queen already, and I'm just over concerned due to inexperience? We have had enormous amounts of pine pollen and flowering forest plants, plus unusual amounts of rain.

Thanks for any advice.
-Lee in Black Hills, SD
 

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Well, now that you mention it, it did seem they were a bit more testy last time (in May) than last summer. But last fall as more honey accumulated and temps cooled they seemed a bit testy then, too.

Do you have some ideas? Hope so.
-Lee
 

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Without looking at your hive, I am guessing it might have swarmed and is now queenless, or your queen failed suddenly leaving them without a queen.
If your other hives are doing well, I would suggest giving them a frame of eggs and larva. You really need to make sure you have fresh eggs on the frame and that the queen stays put!!!! This is important. you do not want to move the queen from the second hive to the weaker more testy hive.

In four days, go back and check on that frame you gave them. Look for the starting of queen cells. Please mark that frame, even if it is with a scratch from the hive tool. It makes for easy identifing. Please be gentle with this frame once the cells start. You do not want to damage them.
In about 8 days, you will want to check again, and then cut out all queen cells but the best one. It will be the longest and fattest.

If in four days, there is no queen cell, you have a virgin running around in there. Check back in about a week or so for eggs
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you Honeysack. All that sounds highly plausible, and I never would have come up with it. Seems so logical once you say it. I will try what you say and post back here on how it goes. -Lee
 
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