Thanks for the replies.
Phil, I was thinking it might be an emergency and would drive to get a queen, but it is too hot for all the queen breeders in far north queensland. They won't have any until march. When I get queens, I reckon it would be better to go for italians bred in hot climate, seeing as italy is hotter than russia :)
Micko, who are DERM? Are they the equivalent of the DPI here? I think what I need is an Agitator who can get the council to change its laws that ban bees in town, probably because one whinger complained 50 years ago, and while we're at it, who can throw out that age-old government policy that won't let people have land unless they have a primary industry, mainly cattle production, which denudes virgin forests and encourages clearing.
I went into town to check the hive there too, and the fellow minding it is giving it tlc..even added a frame of brood a couple of days ago. I got that queen at the same time as the current problem one, and I'm really wondering if those queens are not liking the desert. The other 2 queens are laying much better.
Anyway, the bloke said to leave it a few days, and that if I combined with a laying worker, there is a chance the true queen could be killed, which I don't want to risk. He said I can reduce the entrance to the good hive and put the bees on the ground so the guards don't let a layer in.
But speaking with someone else, he suggested that maybe that queen cell did hatch and the old queen swarm (maybe taking 50 bees?). There might actually be a young queen! I did panic of course and assume that if I didn't see the old marked queen, it must be a worker. All I saw were a few cells with 4 or 5 eggs in each cell. I thought a queen wouldn't lay like this, but he assured me a young queen will, and they are small and hard to spot.
So of course I panicked still and tomorrow's job is building another nuc box for them. :tumbleweed: