We have had a traumatic 5 weeks ever since our hives started to produce masses of queen cells in mid April. We tried to do artificial swarms but got the timings wrong resulting in multiple hive swarming and getting lost. Then we waited for the new queen cells to hatch. They did but no sign of queens or laying so we waited.....and waited.... Eventually one hive was found with a laying queen and we were able to take eggs and put them into the other two remaining hives to encourage emergency queens. Last week when we checked, they were raising emergency queens nicely. But yesterday, to my great surprise, we found that those emergency queen cells were still only at 'cup' stage........but the hives had newly laid eggs. So the queens must have been there after all but took a very long time - 4 weeks - to start laying.
So, finally each of our hives has an active queen and hopefully they can begin to recover their numbers and get back to full health. I cannot tell you what a relief this is.
We took honey off them last weekend and have given them back the empty messy frames. I hope this gives them a nice honey boost as the clean them up.