Queenlessness can occur in honey bee hives due to a number of causes. It results in an agitated colony and disruption of their normal hive activities. Usually within a few hours of being queenless, the bees will begin to construct emergency queen cells from existing cells containing worker larvae less than four days old. Nurse bees will supply the cell with large amounts of royal jelly to divert the development of the worker larva into a queen.
While the colony becomes queenless, worker bees will start to lay their unfertilized eggs inside the cells. Without a queen present, their ovaries become stimulated. Once the workers begin to lay, re-queening can be difficult because laying workers become less accepting of a new queen. Without a queen, the colony will eventually die, since only a queen bee can rejuvenate the colony.