As Paul Pena sang during a low point, “It’s a hard life when you’re stupid. It’s a hard life when you’re blind.” Indeed. We can’t spot queens. We can’t see eggs. We do not know what we are doing. Oh, woe.

We went out to sugar roll the hives again, beginning with Dorcas, who seemed to our casual glance less populous than before. Starting from the follower we checked each comb and with increasing anxiety reached the other end of the hive without finding any brood. None at all. Just capped honey and uncapped nectar. And no sightings of her majesty. And the bees seemed less energetic than usual, as queenless bees are said to be.

One hypothesis is that we, clumsily and without noticing, killed the queen during the sugar roll. But an emergency queen would then be in the works and we only saw a few half-hearted, open-ended queen cups. Another hypothesis is that we missed another swarm and the replacement queen failed her mating flight due to bad weather or hungry bird or other hazard. A third happier hypothesis would be that eager backfilling has robbed her of any place to lay and we missed her sulking in a corner. We are probably not so lucky.

We likely need to transfer a comb with eggs soonest, probably from Clarissa. But first we shall seek expert advice. Oh, woe.