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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Berkeley,California, USA
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    Question Queen cells and laying workers?

    I am trying to help out a fellow beek who has probably developed laying workers (just developing now - sounds like something happened to the queen about three weeks ago).

    I have some queen cells on the way and will end up with more cells than I plan on mating.

    The backup plan will be to raise a new nuc to replace the entire hive in April, but in the meantime, I am wondering if it is worth inserting a queen cell into this newly laying-worker hive.

    Does anyone know what happens when a queen cell is inserted into a hive with laying workers?

    Will the laying worker(s) kill the queen cell before emergence just as a newly-emerged virgin queen would?

    Will the queen cell be allowed to emerge and the new virgin queen killed by the laying worker(s) shortly thereafter?

    Is there any chance that the queen cell will be allowed to emerge and the virgin queen will be allowed to mate?

    Is there any reason not to give this a try?

    thanks,

    -fafrd

    p.s. this is the only hive in her apiary and there are no nearby hives to steal frames of open/capped brood from...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Orange, Virginia, USA
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    382

    Default Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    I think the easiest thing to do with a queen cell is if you are certain its queenless with laying worker, shake the hive out about 100 yards away. Put the hive back together and leave it for a day and hope you shook out the laying worker. Insert the queen cell and pray. I think of all the problems facing beeks, this is one that seem to cause the most problems.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Palm Bay, FL, USA
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    2,297

    Default Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    Most of the time they'll kill the virgin. The best way to deal with LW is to give them a frame of eggs/larva each week until they start queen cells. May take several frames but usually only 2-3.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    OKC, OK USA
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    Default Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    I agree with Fish stix a frame of fresh eggs a week until you see a QC. Beside, I hate shaking bees into the grass
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Berkeley,California, USA
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    Default Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    fish-stix,

    thanks for the advice - I have already recovered a LW hive using the 'frames of eggs/larvae technique' which is why I added the ps to explain that that approach is unfotunately not an option here... If the laying workers are likely to kill the virgin, sounds like there is little reason to give that a try.

    ChristopherA,

    shaking out should result in the remaining foragers returning to the original hive location and leaving the laying workers behind - if that gives a better change of the remaining foragers accepting a queen cell, sounds like that is the better path to try...


    -fafrd

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Seneca, sc
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    830

    Default Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    Don't fight a laying worker this time of year. Shake the bees in the air and give the combs to other hives. To give them frames of brood is a waste of resources. Put the combs on another hive pull frames of brood from that hive when your cells arrive and make a nuc. The queen in the other hives will have all the frames laid in two weeks. Just my two cents.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Brandon, MS USA
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    1,585

    Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    Lw is always a tough one... Mark has a valid point about needing a laying queen in your situation especially... your area may be warm, may have drones, but if she has the only hive around, not likely that she will get a well mated queen... here is a link to a discussion that we just had on this subject... may be of some help. Good luck.
    russellapiaries.webs.com/apps/forums/topics/show/4380935-queenless-hive

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Berkeley,California, USA
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    483

    Default Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    scdw43, rrussell6870,

    thanks for your posts. This beekeeper is an old lady with only a single hive, so the solutions for a multi-hive apiary do not apply here.

    I caught my first swarm a week ago and my hives have had drones for close to a month now, so spring has sprung here and I am not concered that the virgin queens will not get mated. There are many other hives within a few miles of where she lives...

    The only questions I have are:

    1/ should I even try to have her insert one of my queen cells into the hive or just let it dwindle and die (knowing that I will have a new nuc for her in a month or so)?

    2/ if she is going to try inerting a queen cell, should I advise her to shake out the hive first? (not sure she even has the ability given her age or the possibility given her urban setting, so I would only want to advise her to shake out if it is likely to sigificantly increase the chances of success using a queen cell...)

    -fafrd


    -fafrd

  9. #9
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    May 2009
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    Brandon, MS USA
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    Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    Come on man... roll up those sleeves and go shake those bees out for the lady... it is way more effective than trying cells... the trouble that you will have with using cells (both with or without shaking), will be the down time that the dwindled colony will have, as well as the lack of qmp... a laying queen will do SOO much better... may not want to, but one way you could get around that is pull one of your own laying queens for her, and you take your own cell... just throwing out ideas...

  10. #10
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    Aug 2009
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    Default Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    Rrussell6870,

    you're trying to make a boy scout of me, huh

    I don't really have any spare laying queens right now, but I do have some virgins approaching the end of their mating window and I suppose I could get her a mating nuc if that would be better than a queen cell.

    Unfortunately, she lives pretty far away and because I have a day job during the week and a ski vacation planned witht he family this weekend, I'm not going to be able to help her with the shaking, but she's a tough ol' bird and if I tell her it's better for the bees, I'm pretty sure she will find a way.

    Will a mating nuc with a virgin queen have a much better chance of success than a queen cell?

    -fafrd

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,367

    Default Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    I get plenty of LW in my mating nucs, especially if the virgin fails twice. I always give them a cell anyway, and often it is accepted without adding brood.

    There was an article in the back of ABJ a few years ago...actually a summary of papers published. They compared LW in Italians and Russians and the % of each to accept cell. Wanted to know if Russian LWs would more readily accept cell. Both were about 75%

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Brandon, MS USA
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    1,585

    Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    Trying to post on both threads is killing me. Lol. Like MP said, they may take the cell, but if you only have one shot at it, and no brood to play with, and no mated queen to install when shaking out all of the bees, I would just use a virgin... install her just like you would a mated queen (in a cage), then shake out the bees and let the foragers come home to a queenright hive... if you want, I could send you a pseudo queen in the mail... curious to see if it would work... you would just install it and shake the bees out behind the hive...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Berkeley,California, USA
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    Default Re: Queen cells and laying workers?

    Thanks everyone for the inputs on my question.

    As many of you have noticed, I posted a parallel thread with the same question on the Queen and Bee Breeding Forum, and since my initial plan will be to install a queen cell, it's probably best to make the queen-rearing-forum thread the active one.

    In case anyone searching the Bee Forum for threads on 'laying workers' stumbles onto this thread, here is the link to the other thread:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=251385

    -fafrd

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