Yesterday I ordered a new queen for my "problem" hive from Draper's, and they said it would arrive on Thursday or Friday, depending on when they got it out. So I called the post office this morning about 7:30 to let them know it would be arriving, and they said, "it's here all ready!" So that kinda quickly rescheduled my day.
Before putting her into the hive, I did another thorough inspection. Still no sign of the queen. She emerged from her cell 16 or 17 days ago, and I actually saw her on May 1st, but still no eggs. Just empty cells. All that was there was very young brood from the frame of eggs I placed in the hive on Sunday. So I feel pretty confident she's gone, for whatever reason, and felt safe introducing the new queen. I attached a piece of thin strapping to the queen cage and placed it on the hive floor in the middle of the brood box, with the strap coming out the entrance. I watched how the colony reacted to her and, well, they didn't attack the cage or seem aggressive toward her, for whatever that's worth. I'll pull the cage out this weekend to see if she's been released, then let them alone for another week or so.
I was kinda surprised how putting the frame of eggs in the hive this past weekend seemed to have woken the hive up. They'd been rather lethargic the past week or two, not flying as much as would be expected from the population in the box, and not bothering to draw comb. Well, they became more active earlier this week and actually started drawing comb in the upper box. Just from a few hundred eggs put in their box! They started acting normal. Must've given them some purpose in life . . .
Oh, and by the way -- this queen came in with a yellow dot on her back.