Queenless hive- next step?

Advice needed please- have just done an inspection and found a possibly queenless hive

. Have found a queen cells in 4/8 frames, all open, with a good population of bees and no eggs visible in multiples in any of the cells (brood cells full of nectar). Would the next step be to just wait and watch?, or add a brood frame to ‘test’ the hive for ‘queenlessness’?

I hate to start a reply with questions, but I don’t really have enough information here. So here are my questions:

  1. When did you last inspect?
  2. At that inspection, did you see a queen?
  3. It really sounds like your hive may have swarmed, would that be possible?
  4. Do the open cells have anything in them?
  5. Are they ripped open full size (peanut shell size, about 2.5 - 3 cm long) queen cells, or small (1 - 1.5cm) queen cups?

The reason for my questions are that if your hive did swarm, there may be a new queen in there. It can take 4-6 weeks for her to develop, emerge, mate and get laying. If it has been 3 or 4 weeks since your last inspection, they could have swarmed once or twice, and now you just have to wait for the new queen to do her thing.


Hi Dawn, all good, here goes;
I have 1x 8 frame Langstroth, one brood box and flow hybrid on top, established last year in December from a package. Previously I found the queen (after the starting inspections), with a strong population of calm bees, good brood pattern- all going well.

  1. I last inspected end of August- I had a baby/went back to work etc etc, so life got in the way of hive inspections.
  2. Didn’t see a queen, but saw good capped brood pattern, plenty of honey stores.
  3. Could have definitely been possible- didn’t see any swarming definitively, but then again I haven’t been attentive, due to reasons in 1).
  4. The open cells seem to have nectar in them
  5. Definitely queen cells (ripped open full size- there’s one in the pic about 1/3rd from the left, bottom of frame)

Sounds good if there is a new queen emerging, the bees seem quite content, but it was a bit of a shock to find no brood :frowning:

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If the last mated queen left the hive 3 or more weeks ago, that is exactly what you would see. :blush: You see the reason for my questions now. :wink: If you don’t see eggs or larvae in another week or two, I would add a frame of very early brood as you suggested in your first message. :heart_eyes:

Got it, thankyou Dawn for your words of wisdom😊