So a question about queenlessness late in the season: Is this common? I have had various packages go queenless, but it has been in the early season. Are hives at risk to go queenless year round? If so, what are the causes if we know? If one were to get a queen this late, could heavy feeding keep them through the winter?
Fall queen loss is not uncommon. My personal feeling is that the real quality of a queen does not show up until fall/winter, which by the way is the worse time to have them fail. I also believe that a lot of winter failures that are blamed on "winter weather" are really queen failures. I can only speak for myself, but since I have been keeping only well feed grafted and swarm queens winter losses are less than when I tolerated emergency queens. Ideally you want your new queen to go through 3 or so brood cycles before winter, so figure 2 months before the last fall brod rearing to introduce a new queen.