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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Roanoke, VA, USA

    Default If package queen doesn't lay, howlong until laying workers?

    This year many of us are using packages from down south due to winter losses in area. If the package queen doesn't lay, how long until laying workers develop? Or said another way, how long until it will be hard for a new queen to be accepted.?

    To help a friend with this problem (four weeks after package install), we are trying the "add a frame of open brood each week" for 3 weeks, and if they don't raise a queen by then we will have received a replacement queen -- but the package bees are obviously older than average at this point.

    (Finances prevent combining these bees with another hive and installing a new package.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA

    Default Re: If package queen doesn't lay, howlong until laying workers?

    This may help:

    Laying Workers

    When the hive is queenless, and therefore broodless, for several weeks sometimes some workers develop the ability to lay eggs. It's not actually the lack of a queen, but the lack of brood. But the lack of brood is caused by the lack of a queen. These are usually haploid (infertile with a half set of chromosomes) and will all develop into drones.

    More here:
    Note that aside from providing larva for raising a new queen, adding the brood frames also eventually provide new workers, which can replace at least some of the older workers.
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA

    Default Re: If package queen doesn't lay, howlong until laying workers?

    Well, from what I've read (sorry, I don't have time to do the necessary research to prove this'd take hours a day for months lol ), most hives, even queenright ones, have some degree of Laying Worker activity; just that if there's open brood from a *real* queen, the LW eggs are quickly removed & re-queening can be done normally. However, in a long-broodless hive, the Laying Worker(s) can come to be treated as a new queen, and then requeening is likely to be rejected.

    Either way, giving them a frame of open brood every week should solve all problems encountered here (i.e. suppresses Laying Workers, AND gives the hive a supply of fresh, young bees).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Spanish Fork, UT, USA

    Default Re: If package queen doesn't lay, howlong until laying workers?

    I wait a maximum of two weeks for the package queen to start laying. At that point I either give them a frame of eggs from another hive or introduce a new queen. Some years I make splits and let them try and raise their own queen. When I do this, I wait four weeks before checking for eggs. Even though it had been over four weeks that these splits had a queen they seem to accept a new one very easily.

    At this point with you adding a frame of brood each week and if they had started some queen cells, it would be difficult to know which week they started it. It could take up to four weeks from the time the queen cell was started before the new queen will start laying eggs. You'll just have to give it more time.


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