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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Adventures with a dud queen

    Well, I started a 5-frame, medium depth, top bar nuc, with a young, newly mated vigorous young queen. Then later, as they were finishing their combs, I noticed that most of their brood was drone brood, and in drone cells. So I observed the queen for a little while and never saw her attempt to lay, though there were plenty of new worker cells ready for her to lay in. Nearby, in another hive, was another queen, from the same batch, who had practically filled two brood supers with mostly worker brood, so I caged both queens and swapped them hive for hive. A few days later they had both been accepted to their new homes and the fecund queen had begun filling comb with eggs, now in the TB nuc.

    Now it is a month or so later and the nuc had long ago been picked up by its new owner, yet I still have the dud queen, now residing in a strong hive. Well, long story short, though still very strong, there are now many new drones, and drone brood in drone comb, yet no brood in any of the worker comb. So, apparently a dud queen, such as this, I wouldn't call a drone-layer outright (drone laying queens often lay drones in any size comb), can keep laying workers at bay. I removed her and replaced her with another young queen, this time one proven herself to be fecund. The dud queen will soon join the other culls in the alcohol jar.

    It was a good learning experience, but I think I'm going to need to cull sooner when I suspect a dud, but especially when a queen is obviously a dud.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 08-18-2012 at 10:28 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Adventures with a dud queen

    Never seen this before. However the queen obviously has something wrong with her. The bees probably know it too, what you could do is give the hive some eggs from the other hive, once they have good eggs they may well build queen cells to supersede her. But if not, kill the dud queen and either requeen or give them eggs to requeen themselves, no point letting the hive become overun with drones.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
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    972

    Default Re: Adventures with a dud queen

    Dr. Laidlaw mentions this long ago - attributed it to partial insemination, or poor ovary development. If her hive and parentage are good, you could use her for a drone colony to flood for open mating, unless you are below 100 to 150 hives, in which case it is probably a better use to re-queen the colony.

  4. #4
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    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Adventures with a dud queen

    Oldtimer,

    I was thinking the same thing. Every other drone-laying-queen I've ever seen, two or three that I can remember, didn't have such control to lay only in drone comb.

    I am almost constantly raising queens, and usually have at least a few available in nucs. I removed their queen, gave them a frame of eggs, one of sealed brood, and one of emerging brood. At the same time I introduced another nice young fecund queen from her mating nuc.

    It's been almost a week now, and the new queen was accepted, and has begun laying, also the emerging brood provided plenty of young bees to tend to the new brood. If everything continues going well, looks like they'll be another strong colony.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  5. #5
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Adventures with a dud queen

    Always like a happy ending.

    One thought I had when I read your first post, was that she possibly WAS laying in all cells, but something about the bees was making them remove drone eggs if they were in worker cells. But that theory kind of fell over because you transferred her to a different hive but the same thing happened. One of lifes little mysteries!
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Ojai, California
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    Default Re: Adventures with a dud queen

    Joseph - Did she lay any workers at all? It's possible she either mated outside her time window of high receptivity, with one or very few poor drones, or not at all...?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Adventures with a dud queen

    When I first moved her into the top bar nuc, she did lay some workers and also a few drones scattered about in worker cells, but she soon stopped laying any additional workers or drones in worker cells, and as her first round of workers emerged, the nurse bees polished many of those vacant cells, yet she did not lay in them, at all. However, at this same time, it was easy to see that she was searching out drone comb and laying it full of drones.

    That's when I decided I needed to move her to the stronger/larger hive - to see if she would improve (start laying workers again), or not. I was actually thinking she might improve if she had a little more time to practice laying - I was wrong.

    When I moved her into the other colony it was packed with worker brood, in every bit of open worker comb. When I removed her, there was no brood, of any kind, in worker comb (though there was lots of vacant worker comb), but wherever there was any drone comb it was filled with drone brood. A drone-layer, who only laid in drone comb, I had never heard of a creature such as this. She is now floating in a jar of alcohol. A part of me wishes I would have kept observing her, a little longer.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    972

    Default Re: Adventures with a dud queen

    Well, like Oldtimer says, a mystery. We can conclude that at least some mating took place, but likely a very poor one, or she just didn't have her plumbing right.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Adventures with a dud queen

    She was certainly a curious creature. Thinking back on my experiences with her, I am fascinated by her unique reluctance to lay unfertilized eggs in worker comb. Like she was aware that her eggs weren't fertile, as when a normal queen chooses to lay an unfertilized egg, or a fertilized one. And, like you said, she was likely under-mated, malformed, or both.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 08-25-2012 at 02:33 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

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