Am I queenless is probably one of the most asked questions in bee keeping. Five days ago I was going through some of my hives, starting to winterize them. When I found one that I thought was queenless. I checked the hive frame by frame, and couldn't find a queen. There was no brood at all in the hive, and in all appearances the hive was queenless. I took a frame of eggs and brood from another hive and installed it in the supposed queenless hive. Then yesterday, four days after adding the brood frame, I went back to check the hive to see if they had started any queen cells. They had not. I went through the hive frame by frame again, but still no queen, but knowing they had not started queen cells, I knew there had to be either a queen or queen cells somewhere in that hive. Today I decided to take another box with me and as I inspected the frames I put them in the extra box. As I moved frames and inspected each thoroughly I was sure the queen had to be in the old box so I kept looking at the vacant space in the original box. After removing 6 frames, I finally found the new queen on the bottom board of the old hive. She is definitely a new young queen, so now my new concern is, did she get properly mated this late in the year? I will keep an eye on them and if I don't see some positive results in a few days I will just combine them with one of my nucs.
The point I am trying to make here is most of the time when you think you are queenless you really aren't. Usually you just didn't see the old queen or you may have a new young virgin queen or maybe all you have is a queen cell, but if you have any of those you are not really queenless. New bee keepers wind up getting so many expensive queens killed because they think their bees are queenless, and in reality they are not. I know, I have made that same mistake several times. Now I have learned if when given a frame of eggs and brood a hive does nor start queen cells, they will not accept a queen you try and introduce. Sorry to be so windy, but I thought this experience may help some new bee keepers!