I have a hive that we started last year that seemed to be doing exceptionally well this spring. We had great hopes for it. But...I have noticed a definite drop-off in activity so opened the hive today to check it out. The bottom deep has some capped honey, lots of nectar and lots of pollen but no brood at all. I was starting to think that I might be queenless... Lifted a few frames out of the upper deep and finally began to see some brood but very spotty - not a good laying pattern. On the next frame I found an unmarked queen (mine are all marked) so decided that the hive must have swarmed while we were on vacation. Would explain the diminished activity. Kept checking and two frames over I found my original marked queen (new this year)! Definitely brood on the frames around her but I'm still not really thrilled with the production or laying pattern. It seems pretty spare and irregular.
Any ideas about what might be happening? I was so sure that this hive has swarmed because the total population of bees is way down. Do hives ever hatch new queens and then swarm with one of the new queens instead of the old queen? I'm wondering if my hive might have swarmed with a new queen, then had a secondary queen hatch who is yet to be mated and start the swarm cycle again. Or maybe the bees aren't liking the new queen and have raised themselves a new one which I happened upon just as she was newly hatched (would explain the queen but not the loss of bees.) I don't know whether to leave both queens in the hive and let the bees sort it out or whether to move one of the queens and a few frames to a nuc. I can then wait to see which queen is doing a better job and manipulate the bees to establish her back as the reigning queen.
Any ideas would be appreciated. Bees are so intriguing! What a hobby! Just when I start to think I am beginning to understand a little - I find I know very little!