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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Humboldt County, CA
    Posts
    30

    Default Drone layer, or laying workers?

    Oy, I wish I'd stop learning from my OWN mistakes, and perhaps from reading about others. That said...

    One of my hives was much less active than my others, so I took a look in last week. (I should mention spring has sprung out here on the west north coast of California - everything is popping with blooms).

    They had some bees in both (medium) boxes, and some brood, but only a few were capped and they were drones. As I looked at one frame, a queen ran across it right in front of me. Didn't seem to have any attendants, at least not that I could tell.

    Looked in yesterday. The larvae is capped, and they're ALL drones, so I suspect either a drone layer OR laying workers. Why laying workers? Because I saw some eggs in some cells, laid near the top, doubles, etc. To me, that says laying workers. This queen may have been a supercedure queen last Fall, not sure. They were a swarm I captured last summer.

    I killed the queen, since she obviously isn't laying worker brood at ALL (if, indeed, it was her laying the eggs).

    So now I have a problem. If I DO have laying workers, is this hive doomed? I was planning on joining it with my stronger hive, since the age of the bees means there are probably few nurse bees left. In addition, I have the problem that this hive is all on mediums, and my other hives are all on deeps (d'oh!!).

    I don't want to risk having these bees kill the queen in one of my queenright hives, if in fact they have laying workers.

    Should I shake out the bees a distance from the beeyard, hope that the laying workers can't make it back, THEN combine them with the other hive? I think it's too early to get a queen, even out here, and she might well be killed anyway if they're laying workers.

    I'd LOVE any suggestions folks might have.

    Jules

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Crown Point , (NW) Indiana
    Posts
    529

    Default

    I think your decision would depend on the quantity of workers present.

    If you only have drones, they aren't going to be of much benefit unless you plan on queen rearing. A certain quantity is needed for a proper hive balance (in a normal hive) but an excess can be a real draw on resources.
    If you have good drawn worker comb, I'd shake the drones and incorporate the combs/stores in another queenright hive.

    If you have a good quantity of workers I would consider combining. you do run the risk that you could have workers loyal to a laying worker and could kill the queen, but being that the hive probably has an over balance of drones, I don't think this is a huge concern. A slow combine like with newspaper would inhibit most likelihood of mutiny.
    There is always more than one way to skin a cat, that's of course if you're into eating cats.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,421

    Default

    Drone laying queens usually only lay one egg per cell. Laying workers lay many in each cell.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Humboldt County, CA
    Posts
    30

    Default laying vs. drone layer

    Hiya Michael,
    Yes, that's definitely been my experience (from reading, and unfortunately, FROM experience) - multiple eggs means laying workers. That's why the presence of the queen baffled me. I hadn't heard that if a queen is present, you can also end up with laying workers, so I wondered what happened last Fall. Ah well.

    I had also wondered about taking out some of the brood combs that have all the drones and replacing it with worker comb (which I do have some of, in mediums no less) and joining this with a larger hive. There are still a good quantity of workers, but soon, there is going to be a preponderance of drones, and I don't want that, not only because they're not contributing to the hive so much, but for mite suppression purposes.

    I appreciate the suggestions so far, and would love to hear more feedback before I venture any further.

    jules

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