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Thread: Laying Workers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    portland
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    85

    Sad

    Are workers more apt to lay eggs during a particular time of the year?

    I had one hive that for a variety of reasons has been queenless for about 3 weeks and they are content to just store food and slowly die off (introduced new queen today).

    Another hive that had a good queen two weeks ago has now got tons of drone cells both capped and uncapped and the queen is gone baby gone. I plopped a new laying queen with eggs from a nuc that was going to become a seperate hive into this "drone" hive.

    Now I come back to read that perhaps I should have "shaken all the bees out first".
    Do you think they will accept this new queen and eggs?

    I am begining to hate the sight of drone brood (except when I'm making queens of course). They always seem to be built on the bottom of the frame and have a tendancy to get all bunged up when inspecting the hives.


  2. #2
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    How did you introduce the nuc? I would put it on a double screen board for few days so they get to smell the queen and the open worker brood and then put newspaper between to do the introduction. Anything quicker and they may kill the queen. Shaking out seems to be the "accepted" practice. I don't shake mine out. I never had much luck with it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Lima, Ohio, USA
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    725

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    The theory is that laying workers can't fly, and won't return to the hive. I've seen it often said, and quoted as fact, but I've never seen it proven. The facts I think are quite the oposite. Laying workers can and do fly. Some have noticed it including myself. A forager will lay an egg then take off on another run. I've seen laying queens fly, why couldn't a laying worker?

    Even a healthy queenright hive can have a laying worker (I've seen it myself), though it's much more common the longer a hive has been queenless.

    So I wouldn't worry about not shaking out the hive.

    I have however had acceptance problems with hives that have lots of laying workers (More than 3 weeks queenless, lots and lots of drone brood). A longer introduction period, or introducing the queen with a couple frame split from a strong hive then joining it with the queenless hive may help. Fortunately I've only had 2 hives in the past 4 years this bad myself.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
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    I believe in shaking out the bees,not because the laying workers cant get back(I think they do)but because it demoralises the bees or has some other effect that seems to make them less likely to kill the queen.I never had much luck putting in a caged queen ,but pretty good success putting a weak hive(nuc)in place of the LW hive and spraying all of them with scented syrup.But usually by the time I find them they are so far gone that I just shake them out and let them go where they will,and store the equipment for the next season.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    portland
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    Post

    thanks for the info. I introduced the queen with a weak nuc so I guess I'll open things up this weekend and see if they accepted her. It would be nice if the bees just behaved themselves for once.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >I believe in shaking out the bees,not because the laying workers cant get back(I think they do)but because it demoralises the bees or has some other effect that seems to make them less likely to kill the queen.

    I gave up shaking them out because it never seemed to get rid of the laying workers. I hadn't thought of the improved acceptance of the queen. I was enjoying not shaking them out, but I guess now I'll have to see what I think again.

    It would be quicker than what I'm doing now. I put a nuc on with a double screen and let the queenless hive get used to the smell of the queen and the open brood. I think they can smell worker brood and it gives them some hope and maybe puts out enough pheromone to get them headed back in the right direction. Then I use the newspaper combine. But this takes several days.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
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    NE Calif.
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    As you know,it is always a gamble with laying workers.What I do with them pretty much depends on the time of year.Around swarming time,when queen cells are everywhere,I will put a few good looking cells in any laying worker hives.Sometimes that works.After swarm season is when most laying worker problems develop(I keep a pretty good handle on swarming ,but some get away).That is when there are usually enough nucs available to deal with any that went queenless or lw .But from now on any laying worker hives will just get shook out in front of other hives in the yard and the hive put into storage.The other hives seem to assimilate them quite well and deal with the laying workers.If your double screen method works most of the time that is what I would keep on doing,I just feel that shaking them out first and letting them run in maybe takes some of the sap out of them so they maybe arent so quick to kill the queen..not scientific I know.I also like to spray them down with mint or anise syrup as they run in to further 'screw them up'.I just want to break up the established order of things .

  8. #8
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    It always is a pain and I wasted two good queens on one of them this year because I just tried to introduce one instead of using the double screen and a nuc. It was a bad idea. Of course at first I just thought they were queenless. It probably would have been cheaper and easier to just shake them out as you said and make a split from a good hive to replace that one.

    Sometimes you just can't figure what they will do.

  9. #9
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    May 2003
    Location
    michigan
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    Im like loggermike but I shake the vast majority of laying worker colonies out and let them disperse wherever they can.

    I use to give them to a good single or add a nuc with newspaper but I found the acceptance to be unpredictable. There are so many variables of how long have they been laying worker, how large is the population, etc. Long run average for me was about 50% success.

    I decided that way too many hours have been spent on raising the queen in the nuc/single, making the nuc for mating her, etc that it wasnt worth trying to save a bunch of old, mean bees. I can shake them out alot faster and have the equipment for another colony.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Maple Plain Minnesota
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    182

    Question

    What is this "double screen" method you all talk about?
    Just another thing I don't know about bee keeping.

    ------------------
    Erwin

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    There are plans in the "Plans" section on here or Brushy Mt. sells them. You can make one easily enough with a 3/4" strip of wood cut from a one by made into a frame the size of a Langstroth box and covered with #7 or #8 hardware cloth on both sides. If you make one like this, then put a bottom board on the top of the top hive for an entrance. If you make the one in the plans or the brushy mt. one, you can open an entrance on the bottom. Now you can stack one hive on top of the other with a double screen between. I put the laying workers on top, figuring that warm air rises and the smell of the worker brood and the queen below will pass through the screen into the upper hive. They will get used to the smell. The pheromones my discourage the laying workers. And when I do a combine they will be less likely to kill the laying queen.

    They can be used for lots of things including overwintering a weak hive on top of a strong one.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
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    I havent used a double screen in a long time but I'm not knocking them.Instead I went with the nuc board that Charley Mraz described in Gleanings magazine in the early 70s.It is just a 3/8 or 1/2 inch thick piece of plywood with strips.Mine only allow a 4 inch entrance to the back.He would split his hives with the nuc board when they got swarmy and let the part without a queen raise one.He wanted each hive to raise its own queen to keep a large genetic base.Plus with a thousand hives he had to find a way to deal with swarmy hives that didnt take much time.He didnt like the double screen as he wanted total seperation of the two units.The double screen will allow more warmth from the bottom unit to rise and this could be an advantage if the top unit is very weak.Both are used in the same way ,but the nuc boards come in handy later in the season for covering supers of honey as they are taken from the hives.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Maple Plain Minnesota
    Posts
    182

    Sad

    M B;
    Too soon old and too late smart;
    I just found out "beesource.com" is there. I thought "Beesource Buletin Board" was all there was.
    Thanks for setting me strait
    Good double screen board plans.
    I will make good use of that site.

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