Last Sunday I reported that I found a new queen in the honey super, and she'd laid some eggs there. Because I didn't know if the queen was still there, I left the excluder off, and placed a second super on top the first. It was suggested that before I chase the queen down into the brood boxes, I should make sure there is empty comb for her to lay in.
This evening after work I went back into the hive to see how it progressed. The new queen has been busy; she laid a slew of eggs in four frames of comb in the super, all in a nice pattern, and there was some uncapped brood developing and a few cells of capped brood present. There were several frames exclusively full of nectar in the super, and some of them were beginning to be capped off. I did not find the queen in the super, although I pulled each frame and looked pretty intently for her. I checked in the upper brood box, not necessarily to find the queen, but to see if there was room for her to do her job. There was, and she had. The workers apparently moved the nectar up into the super and the queen had laid eggs in the empty cells. I saw a section where the workers had drawn a small patch of drone comb, and the queen had laid eggs in them. Plus I found a few of those "false" swarm cells along the bottom of one frame.
I presumed the queen was down below the super and placed the excluder on before replacing the supers. I'm guessing I can check back in a few days from now and see if there have been new eggs laid. If not, I'll know the queen is not in the supers.
One thing I have been wondering about: when I replaced the supers, I placed the newer super that the bees have not yet begun drawing comb in on top the excluder and below the box the bees have been working on (and the queen laid her eggs in). Will the excluder still act as a barrier to the bees working the supers because of the empty super right above it, or will the top box with nectar and brood in it still work as an incentive for them to start drawing out the empty box?
By the way, I noticed that the frames in my super are in much better shape than the frames in the brood boxes. The manipulations I did in them during the spring really caused the bees to overdraw comb in places, leading to some pretty messy frames.