There are many things a beekeeper looks for during routine Hive inspections. Signs of disease or pests, honey and pollen stores, quantity and quality of bees, hive components condition and wear, etc. One of the most important things to check for is the presence of an egg laying queen. Without which, a hive is on a very short schedule for extinction. So, you've donned safety gear, lit your smoker and popped the top cover off your hive.
Here is an unmarked queen surrounded by her attendants
Below are pictures of a new Queen readying herself for her mating flight
After thoroughly inspecting your hive, you have not been able to find your queen. Is it a time for panic?
Here is what to look for if you can not find your queen:
1. If you see eggs, (1 egg per cell) you KNOW there was a laying Queen present in your hive within the last 3-3 ½ days.
2. If you see larvae but no eggs, you KNOW there was a laying Queen present in your hive within the last 4-9 days. (depending upon age of larvae)
3. If you see capped brood cells but no eggs or larvae, you KNOW there was a laying Queen present in your hive more than 9 but less than 16-24 days ago. (depending upon the type of capped cell you find- worker, drone, or queen)