Today I got reminded twice on one of the routine tasks required of a good beekeeper. That task is to perform a periodic inspection to verify your hives are queen right. I started out the day with a plan to inspect all hives started this spring with packages. I went through 12 hives and at the last one found a hive to be queenless. Luckily I have several new mated queens arriving tomorrow. This experience reminded me to take a look at an overwintered hive I had been wondering about do to its slow buildup. Yep, another queenless hive.
A hive can be queenless for a little more than 3 weeks before laying workers take over. Three weeks is the time it take for all the brood to mature and emerge. The pheromones from this brood suppress the urge of the workers to lay. So a good beekeeper tries to verify his hives are queen right about once every two weeks if he or she wants to avoid a hive going queenless and then getting laying workers.