I have a hive that was a split in late June, had lots of worker population, but failed to raise a queen. Truthfully. I forgot the hive was queenless and likely scrunched a nearly hatched queen.
I Discovered laying workers around late July --lots of new drones --started giving open brood every week for past 2 week cycles. This week I see young workers hatching from the brood that I gave them, but the drones are far outpacing the remaining worker population. I do see a newish hatched out queen cell, but haven't seen a queen or proper laying of brood (still lots of multiple eggs, spotty pattern, eggs on sides of cells). The overall attitude of the hive is listless, and the nectar gathering seems to have dropped considerably.
I didn't re-queen while I was giving brood, as I didn't want to lose a good queen, but I have 3 productive hives and three mated queens in nucs. Deciding to call quits it on this hive, but am looking for advice on how to best combine with stronger hives and/or with one of my nucs.
What problems can I expect if I combine in the way I've done before... with newspaper between hives? My thoughts are these: I haven't been able to find a queen as I haven't found a clean brood frame and the number of drones has made it difficult to go by size alone, so I'm concerned that I will not have removed any queen they might have raised before combining. I certainly don't want to lose a good queen to any substandard queen they raised...
Additionally, while I haven't done any mite checks since late spring (I will be doing so and treating as necessary in the next 2-3 weeks), I also haven't seen any phoretic mites, which I've ALWAYS just happened across in the past 3-4 years. Given the sheer volume of drones and drone brood you'd think I'd see some mites, right? I'd be worried about introducing lots of mites to any hive I combine this one with, so I'm considering doing an alcohol roll before combining just to be sure. I actually haven't seen a mite all summer in any hive since treating heavily in late spring. Again, no checks since the post-treatment sugar rolls, but no mites seen on bees, either.
So... any advice about how to get this hive straightened out? Should I combine in any special way, shake bees, etc?
One more item: I've also noticed some dead brood on this week's check. My assumption is that there is just not enough nurse bees to care for the brood. Is that reasonable-- that the drones are just putting too much stress on the colony's resources and larvae are being abandoned? What I found were dried/shriveled larvae. None were putrefied as far as I could tell. It appears that they died before capping. Again, the capped brood that's coming up is spotty and, of course, all drone.