Had my big inspection of the five hives this weekend, I had to correct one errant hive that was building comb across the frames and I have to admit I was really supprised at how gentle they were as I cut comb and hung it in the 5 frame traps.
My mistake was on another hive, it had appeared to have slowed almost to a stop with building comb, they were packing in the honey and pollen, but there was no sign of larvae or capped brood (hive is a month old) all my other hives have lots of brood. I could not see any sign of the queen but did find 3 drone cells in the whole hive
I went out and got a new queen and just by chance met my mentor at the store who said he would come over and look. First thing he said was they were not acting like a queenless hive, then he found the queen. We watched her for a while and she was going through the actions of laying, but if she had done this for almost a month where was the brood ?
Just in case she is a late starter we took her and a frame of good brood and placed her in a new hive, give her another month and see what happens, the new queen went in her old hive.
I guess the rookie mistake was me assuming no queen, but she could still turn out to be a no good queen.
So at least for now I have six hives.