Since hiving the three nucs we had been worrying over our failure to spot a queen in Clarissa but were hoping that we had somehow simply missed seeing her. Then came last Monday when we finally had time and weather to permit an inspection. We still could not find the queen nor any recent sign of her. We have oft complained that our old eyes can not see eggs but we were hoping to see larvae as we have in previous colonies. We did not. The only good news seemed to be that we did not yet have any laying workers to complicate matters.
Having received our bad news, Dr. Milbrath arrived this morning with a replacement queen but first inspected the hive herself and found the queen!
Inexperienced queen-finders that we are, we had relied upon the large, very visible paint markings to locate them. Clarissa’s marking was much less pronounced as her more fastidious court had cleaned most of it off her, leaving a small, dull dot rather than the big, bright, blot visible from feet away which we had come to expect from the other two queens.
But why no larvae? Dr. Milbrath pointed out the larvae. Oh. They were simply younger and hence smaller and more easily missed than we expected. She also saw eggs, which would have seemed like empty cells to us. After all our worry Clarissa’s queen is present and laying as she should. And we are a little embarrassed but happy to be wrong and thankful to Dr. Milbrath.