My inspection of the bottom brood box did not go well this morning. I did not find my marked queen. (I did no see her when I inspected the upper brood box last Thursday, either.) I did find a good deal of capped brood, and some uncapped larvae, but not much, so I'm guessing she was there as recently as a week ago. However, I didn't find anything I could positively identify as eggs. (I've seen eggs before and can recognize them, and I only found one frame with what I thought may be eggs in the bottom of the cells, but I couldn't positively identify them as such.) The foragers and workers are filling old brood (dark) comb with nectar and pollen -- lots of it. But despite the organized activity gathering behavior, it seems that my old marked queen may be gone.
There is evidence that my queen may have been superceded. I found what looked loke an empty swarm cell hanging off the bottom of a frame in the upper brood box when I went into the hive Thursday evening. Today I found what looked like two supercedure cells on one of the frames in the lower box, both located on the upper part of the foundation/comb. (Looked just like the picture on page 123 of the "Dummies" book.) They hadn't opened yet. Also, and don't laugh, I thought I heard a queen. When I pulled one of the frames (near the center, where the mass of bees was thickest) I heard a faint noise that sounded kind of like a bird from a distance, which I though it was at first. But it was coming from the frame. I lowered the frame back into the hive, then drew it out again, and heard the noise again. I did this a couple more times to see if I could locate where on the frame the sound was coming from, but I couldn't pinpoint it that closely. I also looked for my marked queen, or even what could be an unmarked queen in and among the mess of bees in the frame, but I was unseccessful. I've always been able to locate my marked queen and distinguish her from the other bees in the past, but I'm not certain I could pick out an unmarked queen in a pile.
1) From what I have described, does it sound like my original marked queen has gone?
2) Could the workers have decided to supercede the queen, even as she managed to lay some eggs as recently as a week ago? I know they would have had to decide to create a queen about two weeks ago, and any existing uncapped larvae would have been laid more recently than that.
3) Could a new queen emerge without the other supercedure cells erupting until much later?
4) Would a queen recently emerged be easily distinguished from a worker, at least to my novice eye?
5) Would a new queen, virgin or just newly mated, pipe?
6) What would YOU do, given my situation?
By the way, the workers have not been drawing much comb in the honey super, and instead seem to have concentrated all their hoarding and comb building behavior on a few remaining outer frames of the brood chamber. Sigh!