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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Austin,Texas
    Posts
    23

    Default Laying worker hive..I thought that I did everything right.

    Hello all,
    So recently,well within the past 2-months,I went through some tough times with my ladies. This was my first year as a beek and I guess I didn't quite "get it". I lost my queen to a swarm about 2-months ago and I left the queen rearing to the little gals. After about 3-weeks of no new signs of any new bees,I went ahead and ordered a new queen. I introduced her,left her for about a week and then came back to find that she was released but I found no actual signs of her. I now gave them another month to get all settled i,hoping that the queen was in there,but just playing hard to find. I finally decided to open 'em up again today and it wasn't the pretty picture that I was hoping for.
    The numbers of the bees decreased dramatically. I had to go from 3-supers down to one just so they wouldn't have too much room. I finally found a frame of capped brood and some larvae. The capped cells were drone cells. I took a good look into the other cells and found multiple eggs in each cell. My hopes have been destroyed.
    My question is now what do I do? Do I just allow this colony to die off and start over again next year?
    What do I do with all of these frames of pollen and nectar? Should I save the frames of honey for them next year?
    Is it too late to do a "shake off" and try to introduce another queen?
    It's still pretty warm down here in Austin and I really don't know what else to do.
    Please....ANY info or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    618

    Default Re: Laying worker hive..I thought that I did everything right.

    Find someone knowledgeable in your area to help you get the colony queenright. It can be difficult trying to introduce a laying queen into a laying-worker colony. You might want to consider using some of your good comb and shake out the remaining bees onto it into a 5 frame nuc and introduce the queen that way.. You'll also shake out the laying workers, but you will essentially be starting over with bees and a new queen. The new queen (if she is accepted) should have time for a couple of good brood cycles and make it therough the winter in your area. I'm sure you can keep feeding them to get them through. Make sure they have pollen and honey to get them established asap. BeeWeaver probably has a queen available, i'm not sure.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Eldersburg, MD, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: Laying worker hive..I thought that I did everything right.

    Can I assume you only have one hive? If there is no winter prep to speak of in your region, then this is what I can think of: order a queen, this time use a push-in introduction cage to get some brood going and facilitate acceptance and feed, feed, feed.
    Or, don't order a queen, you could feed them to generate stores, let them die out and save the capped stores for the new bees you get next spring. This will give a new hive a very welcome boost. Or even just save those frames for swarms, splits, whatever you deem needs help. However, you would need to be vigilant with pest monitoring as a dying hive with lots of stores can be a pest magnet. If you choose this route, take out frames as they are capped/filled and put them in a freezer. This will minimize the space a dimishing population will need to defend.
    Do you have any local beekeepers that could come and take a look? A mentor?

    In my area, since we are prepping for winter, I would combine that hive with another one to have one really strong hive. If I wanted a second hive in the spring, I could make a split as part of my swarm-prevention strategy.
    One more thing, I noticed my one hive had a severely dimished population and was queenless since it had been 37 days since a queen was last there. There was no brood, no nothing. I added a queen. Turns out there was a virgin in there after all, so I had added a laying queen to a hive with a virgin and ended up with 2 queens in one hive for quite some time (lots of eggs though as a bonus!)

    Try to get someone to come out and look at the hive with you.

    Hopefully, someone else will chime in with more ideas! Or better guidance. Good luck.
    Last edited by suburbanrancher; 09-11-2012 at 05:13 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Austin,Texas
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Laying worker hive..I thought that I did everything right.

    Thanks for the replies. I have tried to get some sort of mentor to come out and help but it always seems to fall through. I was just reading about the shake out/re-introduction method. Do you think this could work? It seems pretty easy. Generally,shake out every frame,making sure no bees hang around because they could be a laying worker..put hive back in spot and introduce new queen. How would she live though if all of my bees are dying off? Do I have time to do this? I have no access to frames of brood..all I have are frames of pollen,nectar and some capped honey. Plenty of supers,just no bees or eggs to fill them with. And yes,this is my only hive.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,702

    Default Re: Laying worker hive..I thought that I did everything right.

    The straight up answer is that doing a shakeout then introducing a laying queen, by whatever type of cage, has a pretty low probability to work. Although a push in would have better chance than other types but still slim. If you consider the cost of the queen expendable you could try it but don't get your hopes too high.

    With winter approaching, as I see it you have two main options. first, let them die & restock next spring. Or secondly, purchase a nuc. Set the nuc up right next to the lw hive and leave for a few days for them to settle. Then move the lw hive a few yards away so some of the bees will start drifting to the nuc. Then maybe a week later move the lw hive at least 20 yards away & each day shake a few of them out so they will drift to the nuc.
    The theory is, to only have smallish numbers of bees added to the nuc each few days so there are always enough good bees to protect the queen should a lw show up.

    Eventually, transfer all honey etc from the lw hive to the nuc, which should now be a decently sized hive and ready to be set up for winter.
    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
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    618

    Default Re: Laying worker hive..I thought that I did everything right.

    If your going to purchase a nuc (if one is available this time of year) you might as well just shake out all the bees from your old colony and let them drift back to the old location. If you have a laying worker hive you have numerous laying worker bees. It is the brood pheromone that supresses laying workers not the presence of a laying queen. Let the nuc build up on the drawn comb and stores that you have and save the rest of your equipment and make a swarm prevention split next spring when they start to build queen cells. Then you'll end up with more than one hive. Oldtimer don't know if your familiar with Austin, Tx weather but winter really never sets in like it does some places here. I bring single story colonies through the winter here at 7000 feet, so you should be able to bring one through in Austin Tx if you get them established properly.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Austin,Texas
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Laying worker hive..I thought that I did everything right.

    I don't really have access to a nuc..the only option for me to actually have bees through the winter is if I drive about 2-hours east and back to pick up an established colony with a queen. All nucs are gone for the season and I don't really know of any other beekeepers in these parts.I'm sure that there's plenty of beekeepers around here,but none have really spoken up on other forums.
    I just don't know if I should give it one more go 'round with trying to establish a new queen or to just let nature take it's course. I feel like I failed these awesome little creatures.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    East Peoria, IL
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: Laying worker hive..I thought that I did everything right.

    I just had success with a laying worker hive. Made a nuc from another strong hive with a queen I was removing anyway. Gave the nuc a few weeks to settle down and get some new brood then placed the laying worker hive on top with a double screen between them. Upper queenless hive had a top entrance. They stayed that way for a week and replaced the screen with newspaper and a queen excluder. Thought I found my queen dead on the ground and went to shake bees out and pulled out frames of open brood with single eggs. Put them back with lots of 2:1 syrup and we'll see what happens come spring.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    238

    Default Re: Laying worker hive..I thought that I did everything right.

    Uberhausen, I have gone through a similar experience. I decided to try requeening because if it works, I am only out $25 for the new queen. If it fails, or I don't attempt it, I have to buy $200 packages next spring!

    The general advice was to do these things:

    1. secure a queen
    2. shake out your laying worker hive (doesn't have to be too far away), setting hive back up on original site but being sure to return boxes and frames completely bee free (took me two hours to carefully brush off all frames in 3 boxes!)
    3. make a good push in cage out of 1/8" wire mesh screen (instruction here), video here
    (when you put her in the push in cage, make sure none of you laying worker hive bees are in the cage with her)
    4. select a frame from the middle of your upper box, preferably with a patch of comb that will fit under your cage that has honey and pollen, and even soon to hatch brood.
    5. lightly spritz all hive insides and frames, and queen and cage with a sugar syrup mix scented with vanilla or wintergreen oil (makes everybody smell the same)
    6. put queen in push in cage as per the video
    7. smear some comb and honey lightly over the cage to promote acceptance
    8 close up hive, release queen when they are feeding her through the wires, not biting at her through the wires (as a noob I was not sure I could tell which was which, but I hope they look calmer and more relaxed once she is accepted.
    9. When they seem to have accepted her, release, close up hive, leave for a week before checking for new eggs.
    10. cross your fingers!

    Let us know how it goes.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    238

    Default Re: Laying worker hive..I thought that I did everything right.

    My shakeout and requeening although done inexpertly, worked. Found a very fat and sassy queen laying her head off today in the hive. Whew!

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