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  1. #1
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    Default can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    I have a small hive that appears to have laying workers and am considering to do a newspaper combine with another small hive that is queenright and generating good brood.

    Is there any risk that the laying workers could disturb and/or kill the laying queen in such a combine?

    The laying worker hive has predominateely foragers that I want to salvage. Are there other techniques to salvage as many bees as possible from this laying worker hive that are less risky than doing a combine (ie: using a demaree screen)?

    Appreciate any advice from the pros - these are my first two hives and I need to find a way to salvage these bees...

    -fard

    p.s. these two hive were originally generated from a split late last year and once coombined they will still form less than one full hive. Most of you would probably call each of my hives a 'nuc' at this stage as they are each approximately 5-6 medium frames of bees...

  2. #2
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    Geneva,Florida, Seminole USA
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    I have never had any luck getting rid of a laying worker!! I've tried eggs,queen cells, tried to introdouce a fertile queen in a cage, combining with another hive. For some reason the bees are very loyal to the laying worker/s. IMO the best thing to do is just shake the bees out on the ground and try to save the comb. Laying workers will ruin some good brood comb turning it into drone comb.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Thanks for the response, Dale.

    My comb is all HSC (plastic drawn comb), so salvaging comb is not a cncern in my case.

    My biggest concern is my good laying queen in my good hive - when you say that the bees are very lolyal to the laying workers, do you mean that the bees from the laying worker hive may attack and possibly kill the laying queen from the hive they are being combined with? Do you mean that the combine will not be successful because the two groups of bees will fight rather than combine?

    Have you ever tried using the demaree method to salvage the foragers and transfer them to another hive? The two hives are already stacked and seperated by a demaree screen, so this is something I could do relatively easily (though it will take a few days).

    Sounds like when you shake the bees to the ground the bees are lost. I am more interested in finding a way to save the bees because I do not have many than in saving the comb since it is plastic.

    Any further advice or suggestions greatly appreciated. Whatever I do will not happen until Wednsday when I am back at the hives...

    -fafrd

  4. #4
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    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Laying workers will kill a queen. Your best bet is to shake the LW hive one the ground 50 ft at least from the hives. The foragers will find a new home and the layers will not fly.

    As for your weaker good hive, do you have aonther strong hive that you can push into one brood box? I am thinking along the lines that the bottom box is full and the top box is only part full...half or less.

    Here is a plan that works well for me

    Take some 1:1 syrup and add a flavoring. The syrup has to be able to spray out of a spray bottle. Can be vanilla, mint, something strong. Spray the bees of the strong hive. You do not have to remove all the frames, maybe a couple so the spray gets all the bees. Put the full box on the bottom board. Then a piece of newspaper one or two small slits and a queen excluder...QE is important. Then take the good, weaker hive, spray them in well. Not so the bees are wet, but so the scent of the queens are masked. Place the weaker, good queen colony on top. Wait almost three weeks. Split the hives and you have two equal strength hives, ready to add another brood chamber each. Make sure the bottom queen has some empty frames to lay eggs. If there is no flow on, put feed on the top of the hives.

    if the spray is not enough to mask both queens, or if one queen is sensed to be weaker, they might kill one queen. However, i have had 85-90% success rate doing this to strengthen a good weak hive.
    If one queen does get killed, i do not look at it as a failure, (unless i did not spray properly) because maybe the bees realized the one queen was weaker than i thought.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Honeysack,

    thanks for the input.

    I have only these two small hives/nucs, so while I appreciate your idea and will keep it in mind for next time, it is unfortunately not something I can take advantage of this time around.

    Key thing you have told me is that laying workers will kill a queen, but more importantly, that they will not fly.

    So as long as I shake out the bees far from the existing hives and add a bottom entrance to the good hive in the same place that the laying worker hive had its entrance, I should salvage most of the foragers, correct?

    It sounds like I could also just move the laying worker hive and not shake it for a while - in this case most of the foragers should return to the good hive (with same new entrance added) and I could monitor the laying worker hive for another week or two to see what happens to it. This sounds like a simpler one-shot solution than the demaree method, which would take several days to a full week.

    thanks again for the advice,

    -fafrd

  6. #6
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    Oct 2009
    Location
    Walker County, Texas
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    201

    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Shake the laying hive out on the ground about 50 ft. away.Put the hive boxes where the bees can't get to them. Try to work the frames into other hives or what ever. The bees that are not laying workers will be excepted into the other hives. If your in the far south you can shake them out,put a queen in and the bees will fly back to the hive. Some say it don't work but it did for me.
    Before man took over bees there was nature,it did a better job.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2004
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Quote Originally Posted by fafrd View Post
    Key thing you have told me is that laying workers will kill a queen, but more importantly, that they will not fly.

    So as long as I shake out the bees far from the existing hives and add a bottom entrance to the good hive in the same place that the laying worker hive had its entrance, I should salvage most of the foragers, correct?
    -fafrd
    We have taken them a ways away, shaken them out and the theory is as Honeyshack relates. The workers return and the laying workers don't. We have found this to often work, but not 100%. I would not do this until the hive is moved and well orientated. Even then, it is touch and go sometimes getting them to accept a new queen. Installing her in a cage on hatching brood will better convince them they are OK without risking your new queen, but sometimes it is just easier to let the workers return to another hive and start from scratch with a new split.
    Sheri

  8. #8
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    As everyone has said, it is very difficult to get the bees to forsake their laying workers and embrace a true queen. Every season I seem to have at least one colony that becomes "laying worker". Sometimes I play at feeding them combs of open brood until they become queenright. This can take a long time, and is not guaranteed to succeed. Some times I enjoy the challenge, some times I just shake the hive empty of bees and use the empty combs in hives that can use them.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  9. #9
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    Aug 2009
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    Berkeley,California, USA
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    sometimes it is just easier to let the workers return to another hive and start from scratch with a new split.
    Sheri
    Sheri,

    thanks for the suggestion. I think this is what I am going to try to do. The two hives are already stacked one on top of the other, so it is going to be easy for me to add an entrance to the queenright hive where the entrance to the problem hive is now.

    I want to salvage as many of the foragers as I can from the laying worker hive and combine them into ther queenright hive.

    So I am going to move the laying worker hive out from under the queenright hive and add an entrance to the queenright hive that is in the same location as the entrance to the laying worker hive is now. And than my two choices for what to do with the laying worker hive are the following:

    1/ move the laying worker hive and shake it out and hope that only foragers fly back to the queenright hive and that they are accepted (which is likely as they will hopefully be carrying pollen and nectar).

    2/ move the laying worker hive to a new location after most of the foragers are out foraging and hope that the returning foragers as well as many of the foragers remaining inside the laying worker hive when it is moved will go back to the location of the old entrance which now leads into the queenright hive. With this option I can monitor the laying worker hive for a while and decide to shake it out when it has dwindled close to nothing (or just let it continue as long as it can to generate some drones).

    I want to salvage as many of the foragers from the laying worker hive as possible in the way that is as easy as possible, but do not want to put my one remaing good hive and queen at risk.

    Any opinions on which of the above alternative would be better (or other alternatives I have not yet considered) would be appreciated.

    -fafrd

  10. #10
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    Sometimes I play at feeding them combs of open brood until they become queenright. This can take a long time, and is not guaranteed to succeed.
    Joesph,

    thanks for the observation. Next time around I may try to recover the kaying worker hive by 'playing' as you have, but this time, I just want to salvage as many of the foragers as possible and combine them into my other hive. The two hives I have are less than a half a hive each, so even after putting them together, they will still form less than one full hive. I will split them again in the fall or if I get any swarm cells later this spring. For now, I just want to get all that good nectar and pollen going into a hive where it can be put to good use. This is my first spring as a beekeeper and I want to get to one strong and healthy hive as soon as I can and start to focus on making honey for the first time...

    The one thing I do not want to do is anything that may put my one good hive/nuc at risk. I assume that foragers from the laying worker hive that come into the queenright hive and are accepted will in turn accept the queen and will not cause a 'revolution'. If I am taking any risk that these foragers who have come from a hive that had laying workers could cause problem once accepted into the queenright hive, I would accept a heads up before I take this step.

    -fafrd

  11. #11
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    Owen, WI, USA
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Option 1) We have never shaken out a laying worker colony where ALL the bees end up in one colony, all at once. It might be interesting, but it might not be a good kind of interesting. It might be a little like trying to boost a small colony by shaking a swarm into it. If they fight, and they usually will, you can lose as many bees as you gain. If I did this it would be on a nice day when foragers are out doing their thing so, as you mention, they will be bringing home the groceries.
    I really don't know how this would work. Anyone?

    Option 2) would probably be the safest, but you may not gain much, especially if the drone population is high, but I guess if it is high you won't lose much either.
    Sheri

  12. #12
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Sheri,

    thanks for the insight. The two nucs/hives I have are roughly the same size (about 8 medium frames full of bees for the queenright colony and about 5 deep frames of bees for the laying worker colony) but I don't feel like taking any risk if there is a chance that a large number of returning foragers from the laying worker hive could fight with the bees of the queenright hive and/or potentially harm the one good queen I have left.

    Your input reinforces my inclination to try option 2 (move the laying worker hive and leave a new entrance into the queenright hive to collect the returning foragers) since it seems less abrupt and more likely to lead to a smooth transition.

    Moving the laying worker hive is essentially a turbo-charged version of using the demaree method, which is the other option I was considering. The problem with the demaree method is that it takes a longer time (many days) and is non-permanent (foragers which have returned to the queenright hive on one day may reenter the laying worker hive the next day depending on the position of the entrances). A move makes the change all at once which is easier and should prove to be more permament.

    Moving the laying worker hive with a new entrance into the queenright hive at the same location as the old entrance to the laying worker hive seems to be the best alternative.

    Thanks everyone for your suggestions and inputs and I will let you know how it all turns out in case anyone else finds themselves facing a similar problem in the future.

    -fafrd

  13. #13
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    Jul 2007
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    Geneva,Florida, Seminole USA
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Fafrd, I was told I was wasteing my time to try and get a queen in a laying worker hive. But, being the best an smartest beekeeper of all time I was sure I could save the hive If you 've got the time and the will ...go for it! You might just teach us old timers a new trick. The queenless hive will kill a new queen. When I've shaken a hive out they return to the old spot , but before the day was over, they were gone. I can't say if they all when in one hive or several. Bees that are queenless for a couple of days will usually take a queen more readly. Maybe... shake them out,leave box on old stand for a day, then try to introduce queen. Good luck

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Morgan County Indiana
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Last summer we tried to combine a laying worker hive to a queenright colony. 2 weeks later there was no queen. We shook them out and restacked the hive planning on the laying workers not coming back and requeened. 2 weeks later not only was that one queenless but the one next to it was queenless as well. We saved the 2nd hive but the combine never was right and come fall we killed the bees and used the stores elsewhere.
    I agree with the only good thing in a laying worker hive is comb and stores for good hives. The bees can do more harm than good.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    The older, foragers, are usually the ones that fail to accept a different queen. Younger, house, or nurse bees, will accept everyone. So trying to incorporate the foragers from the laying worker hive is just the thing that will give you the risk that you are trying to avoid - besides, some of them may be your laying workers. Some laying workers will still spend time doing normal worker things, like foraging.

    If you caged the queen so she is protected for a few days, maybe then you could get the laying worker bees to accept her.

    I used to move nucs with queens, virgin or mated, to the location of a stronger nuc (to gain an increased population of foragers), I have often had the returning foragers ball and kill those queens. I quickly stopped doing this, it just isn't worth the loss of those hard-earned queens. Instead I move queenless nucs into those locations (to gain the field force), then after a day or two, give them a cultured queen cell; much safer.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 02-14-2010 at 12:38 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  16. #16
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    Aug 2008
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    Brandon, MS
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Finding a laying worker in a hive is about the saddest thing I can find in a yard short of American FB, if I have queen cells I've had limited luck putting a cell up top in late spring early summer and them accepting her, at least long enough for her to go down and kill the laying worker. Otherwise I just tote each box outside the yard and shake em out and use the resources and restart the hive.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Everyone,

    I appreciate the advice and warnings on dealing with a laying worker hive. It sounds like if it is the mature foragers that are the most likely to conflict with and possibly harm the queen of the one queenright hive that I have, I need to be carefeul in this manipulation.

    I thought the 'moving the laying worker hive and adding a new entrance into the queenright hive' may be a good way to simplify the manipulation with low risk, but all of these messages are convincing me that I should take a more gradual approach.

    With my demaree screen, I can release foragers from a side entrance over a day or two and then capture them into the queenright hive without having a flood of foragers from the laying worker hive enter the queenright hive all at once. It's more work but it sounds like it may be safer - what do you think?

    -fafrd

  18. #18
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    If the laying worker hive is really weak and you put it on a hive that is really strong, your combine may work. If they are even, then the odds are more even that they will kill your queen. I think shaking them out is the best way to do a combine.

    If you have the resources (and I wouldn't this time of year) and drones flying (which I wouldn't this time of year) a frame of brood every week for three weeks is pretty much a sure thing.

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

  19. #19
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    Thanks Michael.

    The hives are roughly equivalent in size, so it sounds like the combine is not a good idea.

    I do have frames of brood and we do have drones flying now, so I want to understand more about the other option you described.

    Can I assume that the frame of brood every week for three weeks will result in the laying worker hive generating a new queen?

    And in terms of why it works, are the fresh frames of brood every week to somehow get the laying workers to 'stand-down' and stop laying so actively?

    -fafrd

  20. #20
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    Default Re: can laying workers kill a laying queen in a combine?

    >Can I assume that the frame of brood every week for three weeks will result in the laying worker hive generating a new queen?

    Yes.

    >And in terms of why it works, are the fresh frames of brood every week to somehow get the laying workers to 'stand-down' and stop laying so actively?

    It is the brood pheromone that suppresses the laying workers, not the queen pheromone. That's why it works.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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