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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Oakland, CA, USA
    Posts
    101

    Default Laying Worker Variant

    I'm in a peculiarly low brood situation due to repeated losses of queens due to what seems to be damage in transit.

    I have a couple hives that have LW. Normally I'd do the frame of brood a week approach, or shake out and let some enter new hives and some return to original location with a queen right hive there.

    Because I'm low in brood the first is difficult (tried to get some from a friend, but he just made up a # of medium nucs and is light on spare brood) and the now queen right hives are a bit fragile so worried about returning bees still killing the queens.

    If I put a queenright hive over a LW hive with harware cloth between them, will the brood pheremones pass through enough to revert the LW to workers over a few weeks, as well as let the hive acclimate to the smell of the queen? Then can just pull the cloth after 2 1/2 to 3 weeks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    1,697

    Default Re: Laying Worker Variant

    Tough one. I would shake out the hive about 50 feet, remove all remnants of the hive. Meaning, remove lid, bottom board, boxes etc. Let them find a way to the other hives. Do not move the queen right hive into the place of the laying worker. This has worked for me.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,436

    Default Re: Laying Worker Variant

    Will a laying worker revert back to a worker bee?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Oakland, CA, USA
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Laying Worker Variant

    My understanding is that the presence of the pheremones given off by worker brood inhibits the ovaries in worker bees. That is why you don't get laying workers in queenright colonies, and why putting a frame of brood into a colony each week will slowly 'revert' the laying workers and allow them to either raise or accept a queen.

    Normally I'd just do the frame a week, or if rushed risk the shakeout, but neither is tenable currently, thus my thought about putting a queenright on top of a laying worker hive with only a single layer of screen between them, so that for the bees it would be a single structure. Dunno if anyone has tried it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Rupert, Idaho, USA
    Posts
    86

    Default Re: Laying Worker Variant

    I think this is an interesting theory, or idea. I would love to see a few more of the experts on this site weigh in with an opinion about your idea with the screen.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    1,697

    Default Re: Laying Worker Variant

    Laying workers will kill a new or existing queen when entering the hive. The screen is only a deterance. There are other entrances which they will use. Have you seen a robbing group of bees and what they will do to get into covered boxes with honey in them. I have. They have literally pushed the lid just enough to get into the box. Not to mention, unless your boxes are new and squarred up when building, there are nooks and crannies which they will find. It is a big risk.
    From a monetary stand point, it is between 20 and 25 dollars for a newly mated queen. If the hive goes queenless again, and with the low brood stock which you find yourself in, and and decreased honey production, winter bee production (which sad to say is fast approaching) are you really ready to put this to the test? This will cost alot and set the hives back alot if this fails. Now is the time to look towards wintering hives and getting hives ready for that end goal.
    If you had a few strong hives to rob brood from, maybe this would be a good plan. Think this through carefully.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,346

    Default Re: Laying Worker Variant

    Laying workers are always present and laying in virtually all hives. When the hive is normally balanced; contains open worker brood and a laying queen, the nurse bees will remove the "laying worker eggs" from worker cells, since they aren't fertilized and would grow into drones.

    If you use hardware cloth screen to rehabilitate the LW colony, be sure to use a double screen (separated by at least 1/4"), or other problems, such as the queen being injured or killed, could arise.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,084

    Default Re: Laying Worker Variant

    It works best with a double screen.

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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Oakland, CA, USA
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Laying Worker Variant

    Thanks for the cautions and advice both. Can add a 2nd screen to one of the boards without much problem. On the caution side, I'll at least flip the entrance 180 degrees between/ QR and LW hives to minimize drift. Will see how it works out.

    I agree about prepping for winter. I just want to give the QR hives as many resources as they have to be in good shape for coming spring. I've written off this season.

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