Yesterday I took advantage of warm weather to look into 3 hives at my hills apiary. Two are doing very well. But my long hive is very weak- and seems liek it has possibly gone queenless. There are only 3 frames with bees on them- and ony one with two small batches of capped brood. No signs of eggs or larvae. Didn’t see a queen though did see signs of one old queen cup/cell. Not sure if that was a torn down cell or no. The bees have a few frames of honey so no immediate issue with stores.
There are two scenario’s as I see it:
1)there is a queen- either she is a virgin or has stopped laying
2) there is no queen- and no way to make one
The bees have around 60 days to go to get through winter. It will probably get pretty cold where they are at at times.
I want to save that colony if I can as they are the gentle yellow italian bee and my only hive of that type. As I see it my only options are to either add a frame of brood now- or to leave them alone and just hope enough bees make it through the winter to be built back up early spring.
If I added a frame of brood now- would the bees even try to make a queen mid-winter? If they did: and she couldn’t get mated (cold and few drones)- do virgin queens ever hang around through winter waiting until they can get mated in spring?
the issues I worry about adding brood is that I’ll have to disturb another colony to get it- and I am worried it may chill with only enough bees to just cover it- and night time temps down to 0C at times… also I realise I will lose the italian strain if I add brood from another hive.