You're correct Mark they did have supercedure cells that hatched out 2 weeks ago but nothing came of them. AND if a queen did hatch out there is the chance of whether or not she mates. I opened the hive last week and not one single egg had been laid. Therefore, I assumed that the supercedure cells did not contain larvae to begin with. The brood that the original queen laid and was capped hatched out, about an eight inch circle. Nothing more was ever laid in the comb. Bees quit drawing out comb in the brood box as well.
No comb being drawn and my population being extremely low tells me that I don't have enough young bees to draw the comb. Once a bee is 3 weeks old, it becomes a field bee...hence, the youngest bees I received in the package are now field bees and not nurse bees. Comb building ceased, no capped brood for two weeks...not one single capping in two weeks? Come one...I'd say there is a problem with the queen if she's still in there. Also no comb building lends me to believe they are queenless...with no laying queen the bees don't need to draw out a ton of comb to make room for her to lay. The four frames that are drawn in the brood box are completely full of nectar and sugar water....not brood.
SO....with the new queen being introduced, I am 99% guaranteed that I have a young mated queen. Once the queen is released, I'm %99 sure she's in the hive and will start laying immediately on the little comb that has been drawn.
Other option was to hope that a supercedure yielded a new queen who was properly mated and returned to the hive to set up shop. Too much of a chance. We are in the beginning of our last major honey flow which should last 3 more weeks. The hive top feeders have been on and full since installing packages. If eggs aren't laid population will die....I don't have two more weeks to hope a supercedure yields a queen. Packaged bees are dying off....no new brood is hatching....honey flow is on....July, August, and September will hopefully be enough time to get this hive on it's feet before winter.
Who knows...maybe they rejected the queen right out of her cage. (There were two queens in the package). Who's to say that the 8 inches of capped brood wasn't a laying worker?
I needed to be %100 percent sure that I give them the best chance of making it through winter. I started this whole thing knowing that I would not receive one ounce of honey surplus this year. Whatever they store in the brood box and eventually a shallow super will get them through till spring. So yes, I've taken drastic measures.....I can look at the Russian hive installed on the same day and they have 8 frames drawn with 6 slap full of capped brood. I open the Italians and they have 4 frames drawn without a single cap. You tell me.....was it worth the extra measure to help them along? Time is of the essence. Population is around 8,000 (est)......would you have waited to see what would've happened or would you have taken a chance and given them a new queen and let them have a clean start? I am assured that if you opened the hive and saw so few bees in it you'd have done more than put the lid back on and hope for the best.