We (my mentors and I) first checked my hives in March when we had an unusually warm day. Both hives had sufficient honey and both looked healthy. We did notice that hive #1 had a lot of dead bees in front on the hive, but it was winter so we attributed it to the time of year.
Today, April 16th, we did our full spring inspection. We were planning on cleaning frames, checking for brood, and overall health of bees. Al and Holly were with me. Al has been keeping bees 100 years (not really but he knows enough that one could believe it) and Holly is a knowledgable neighbor who lives around the corner from me. As soon as we opened the hive, Al knew something was wrong. Holly and I just looked at each other, confused. We dug deeper and found that there was only drone brood--a sign that the queen is gone and female workers are laying. The deeper we went into the hive the worse it looked. Not only was the queen gone but the hive next to it (hive #2) was robbing the hive of its honey. The bees in Hive #1 were agitated.
We went on to inspect hive #2 - that hive looked healthy - lots of well-patterened brood, honey, pollen, and we were lucky enough to find the Queen - 2nd frame from the right on the top A lot of people will tell you Queens are not that hard to find - well I respectfully disagree. It's like finding Waldo.
Now what to do - Al suggested combining the two hives, which we did. We took the top hive box Hive #1 and put it on top of the two hive boxes on Hive #2 - separated by a piece of newspaper. Al said this was so they could get acclimated to each other (bees from hive 1 and 2) -
we took the other hive box - moved it 15 feet away and out of site so the bees in there would hopefully go find new home in the 3-tier Hive #2.
How did Al know there was something wrong when he opened the cover? The bees started flying out - Al said bees shouldn't fly out when you open the inner cover. These were robbers, escaping as they knew they didn't belong.
I hoping to get a Queen and then split the box again or just a Nuc and start a new hive next to Hive #2 -