When a queen bee is removed from a colony of bees it does not take long before the colony becomes aware of her absence. Usually within about five hours, a noticeable buzz begins to develop inside the hive. This buzz continues while the colony remains queenless. Experienced beekeepers are sensitive to this sound and sometimes can successfully identify a queenless hive just by this unique colony-wide buzzing. Many beekeepers call this the “Queenless Roar.”
How can the honey bees know so quickly that they are without a queen bee? Each healthy queen bee produces a substance called “queen pheromone” that enables the bees to sense her presence inside the colony. When the pheromone disappears, or when an old and weak queen stops producing it sufficiently, the bees take notice. Without the queen pheromone in the hive, the bees become distressed, and they will shortly begin constructing emergency queen cells from young larva and begin to raise a new replacement queen.