View Full Version : How do I know I have laying workers?
07-27-2010, 02:07 PM
I want to combine two hives. One with a new queen and the other queenless, or so I thought. Went in today to do a newspaper combine and there is larvae in the queenless box. I have looked over and over again and do not see a queen. Could this be drone larvae from a laying worker? I know about the characteristics of a laying worker. Two eggs, poor pattern, etc. Is there something I can do to ID these? I do not want to combine with a chance of losing my new queen.
Thanks in advance.
07-27-2010, 02:42 PM
The easiest way to know you have laying workers is to watch them grow frames of drone brood in the worker cells. See multiple eggs, even in pollen cells. And to have them kill replacement queens you try to get them to accept. The only way to really know is to see the laying workers, lay an egg.
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You can successfully combine them most easily if you initially stack the laying-worker colony above the queenright colony, separated by a double-screen board. See this link for a photo and description at Walter T. Kelley (https://products.kelleybees.com/wtkprod/detail.aspx?item=1092). Those little pivoting pegs at top and bottom on three sides of the double-screen board are entrances that can be opened and closed easily by the beekeeper. By using this tool you can let the laying workers get the scent of the brood, queen, and queenright hive, which should soon turn off the laying workers behaving like queens and their bees from treating them like queens. Soon you should be able to remove the double screen and let both colonies co-mingle.
07-27-2010, 04:45 PM
I have put the two together using the double screen board. How long should I wait to combine and do I do it with newspaper? Is there a way to know when it is ok to combine?
07-27-2010, 05:32 PM
Don't forget to open an entrance for the bees in the upper box, on a side or the back, away from the entrance used by the bottom box. I would wait a couple of weeks, then check that the bees don't fight, by closing the entrance the upper box is using and opening the one beneath it that leads to the queenright colony in the bottom box. If it's too soon, you will see the bees begin fighting with each other as they get together. If they do, switch the entrances back. If they don't fight, you can remove the double screen board - you shouldn't need newspaper.
08-08-2010, 06:15 PM
Joseph: I had bear damage this summer which killed the queen. I thought that I'd try and let the hive make their own replacement. Three days ago I saw a lot of eggs and royal jelly after a period of no queen and an opened queen cell apparent. Today I went in and the hive had capped drone cells only - no worker cells and spotty to boot. I'm thinking that I don't have a viable queen - I couldn't find one, and I'm thinking that I should just combine this hive as you suggested over a double screen with a nearby hive and when ready, remove the double screen.
Since it's getting late in the season here, I figure that I can remove the third deep at some point and consolidate the hive into two strong deeps with a shallow of honey or more on for the winter. Do you have any other ideas or thoughts? Thanks. Paul
08-08-2010, 06:40 PM
Your plan sounds good to me. But I'm not in your climate, and it has been awhile since I kept bees in temperate climates. I'd recommend getting some advice from Michael Palmer, or someone else keeping bees closer to your latitude.
08-09-2010, 07:39 AM
Thank you Joseph, I'll ask Michael as well. Paul