Hive possibly queenless?

First post here and kinda long, thank you so much! Want to include as much detail as possible to diagnose any issue.

A brief overview of the situation. My hive was started back the beginning of the summer from a nuc. a few months later they had been doing great and drawn comb and I added the second box which is now almost wholly drawn out. EVERYTHING has been going great and I have seen eggs/brood/capped brood every time. Important to note although I am nearly 100% is not the cause is two-three weeks ago I did my varroa test which came back at ~2-3%. Basically sure the queen wasn’t in it. Eggs were noted at that time. At the time the bees were also bringing back more pollen than I thought possible and had like 2-3 solid frames of it and very little honey capped or otherwise (they had been consuming the 3 frames of it they had stored over the last month or so). Also noteworthy is we had darn near freezing weather here in Ohio for over a week straight when it was in the 40s during the day so I held off any inspections.

Fast forward to today and I inspect and they have very little pollen, a TON of honey (like an entire box full almost full but not capped yet, and the bottom box with the drawn comb they have started filling and no eggs at all. Only brood noted was a few patches on 2-3 frames that were capped and had a few bees hatching as I inspected.

Other interesting tidbits are that all summer they have been duking it out with a hornet nest and they are constantly tussling in from of the hive. I saw two hive beetles today but that’s it. Lots of liquid in the tray over the last week which after consulting other posts here, combined with my inspection is due to all the nectar they are bringing in. I also noted a small queen cell on the bottom by the corner of one frame but don’t know if there is anything in it. The population is very healthy and large with no sudden drops as if they had swarmed or something.

If you have read all the details and made it this far, here is my question, what are the odds I am in fact queenless vs just a laying pause in the fall (as I saw other posts discussing) and if we think I am, what can I do to ensure my hive success through the winter? Based on the amount of honey they are accumulating I think they will have enough but I am not sure what to do. Thank you so much!!

Hello and welcome!

I am in Columbus!

If have found that there is still usually quite a bit of egg laying this time of year, the only time they are nearly broodless is around the winter solstice.

If you didn’t see eggs or young larvae, you should find the queen. But I would bet the odds are pretty good that there is no queen. Today and tomorrow should be warm enough for a thorough inspection but it’s going to get cool again later this week.

At this time of year if you are queenless you’ll need to introduce a mated queen or combine the hive with another. There’s no use in queen cells or letting them raise their own because there aren’t enough drones to get the queen mated correctly.

Probably condensation.

What did you treat with?

Since it was less than 5% I did not treat it. In case you mean test, I did an alcohol wash with the Easy Check. And dang, that’s what my gut was telling me! Any good place to find a mated queen here/locally? The only place I’ve ever seen an individual queen at all is the guy that breeds them I think in Columbus…They were doing so well I’d hate to start over in the spring if it can be helped. I can do another inspection Friday when I am off work, but I was fairly thorough today and took every frame out and was looking over each one for her while checking any open cells for eggs and I haven’t seen her. But then again I haven’t seen her since my first inspection ever so there’s that. There have just always been eggs so I knew she was there.

I would recommend erring on the side of caution and treating. Since you’re nearly broodless now, an oxalic acid treatment would work well but you could also do formic acid if it isn’t too cold yet.

How would you have treated if your threshold had been met?

Realize that as the colony numbers drop in the fall and winter the infestation percentage will increase rapidly, which will significantly hamper your colony at the hardest time of the year and decrease your overwintering probability. Consider also planning a winter solstice treatment (oxalic acid vapor), especially if you don’t treat now.

You might check with blue sky or queen right colonies, they’re both close-ish to you.

In Ravenna and Spencer, respectively.

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I had not fully decided on a treatment method as of yet, but the two you mentioned were on the list from the research I had done. As for the queens I will check them out, thank you!

If you know some locals they might have weak colonies that they aren’t planning on getting through the winter that might be worth giving up the queen…

Haven’t been doing it long enough to know any, no. Just the person I got them from

Where did you get them? Might ask there… is there a local club? Maybe a Facebook page?

I got them from a place in Medina, vaugen bee dancin or something like that. I’m planning on messaging them. Have connected with any clubs etc yet. Probably a good idea though