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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Drain, OR
    Posts
    424

    Default Laying worker plan criteque wanted

    This last weekend I discovered one of my colonies had turned laying worker. It's a nuc sized colony in a single 10-frame deep. I have a queen I just raised that just started laying in a queen castle with 2 medium frames of brood & bees, and a medium frame of honey. Next door in the castle is 2 medium frames of brood and bees that may not have raised their queen. It's only been a little over a week and a half since the cell hatched though, so I guess I should give it more time to play out. Anyway, I was thinking about taking these 5 medium frames, putting them in a single 10 frame medium, and putting it where the laying worker hive used to be. Then shaking out the laying worker hive somewhere (where?). I am assuming that most of the laying worker hive would return to their old location, but find a brand new hive and colony there. At which point there would be confusion, then they would likely merge with the new colony.

    Good plan? Bad plan? Thanks for any feedback.
    A backyard hobbyist, keeping hives since '09. ~ http://www.sweetthangchocolates.com
    Zone 8a/8b

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,570

    Default Re: Laying worker plan criteque wanted

    That is one way of dealing with a laying worker hive, although you can skip the new hive and queen and just shake them out some distance from other hives. The bees will find new homes in the other hives and you will get good work out of them.

    The other option is to put a frame of eggs into the laying worker hive every week for a while. The open brood will supress the laying workers (there are many, not just one) and after a couple frames of eggs the bees will make queen cells.

    The one thing you should NOT do is attempt to introduce a queen into a laying worker hive, they will kill her every time.

    Peter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    1,084

    Default Re: Laying worker plan criteque wanted

    Probably best to isolate the LW frames as they are. Timing and evening temperature drop are the keys to shaking out LW's. Move them about 25 yards in front of the hive and shake all of them onto a piece of flat cardboard or sheet. Do this in the evening just as it starts to get cool to cold. Leave the bottom box in place with frames of comb and NO bees. The bees will mostly fly back to the hive. Laggards, especially fat workers that won't fly, are suspect laying workers. I'd kill them on sight, but it is NOT easy to spot them. Hopefully, the LW's can't fly and they don't make it back before it gets too cold. Introducing a queen in the confusion may work - put her in the hive, but I usually give them a few hours to a night queenless so they will be more ready to accept her. I always use a Laidlaw cage to introduce a queen.

    Unless you have very few bees, if it were only 1 or 2 frames of bees that had LW's, I'd just kill them all, then start a new nuc. Adding bees to a LW colony doesn't make much sense to me.

    Personally, I don't bother shaking them out. My way of dealing with them is to divide them into 2 frame sections, wait 4 days, the ones with goofy egg pattern has the LW's the ones without eggs (just larvae) are good to get combined back with another colony or re-queened. I separate the last 2 frames with LW's, wait 4 more days, then just kill all the bees on the frame with the eggs. I only lose one frame of bees, and the LW's are DEAD. Not too bad of a situation - it essentially saves my colony.

    My hives all have 3 vertical slots 17/64" wide x 3/16" deep cut into the insides of the short ends of the box. Into these I can slide hive partitions made of 1/4" plywood. In the event of laying workers, I put hive partitions in the two outside slots, leaving room for three 3-frame nucs. This arrangement makes it quite easy to deal with LW's.

    I even thought of making up a special over-sized hive with 9 slots and room for 10 individual 1-frame compartments to separate frames in case of LW's! On the 4th day, it's obvious where the LW's are. Kill the whole offending frame. This "divide and destroy" method is very effective on the laying workers. A few hours queenless get the surviving workers ready to accept a new queen, and the Laidlaw queen introduction cage protects the new queen until her pheromone level is up from laying eggs, so she gets accepted. I still have 90% of the bees in that box. Not entirely a Buddhist approach, I admit, but Machiavelli would smile...it's good for the most of the lot.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 05-01-2013 at 10:47 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Default Re: Laying worker plan criteque wanted

    When I have tried putting a queen right colony at the laying worker location and shaking them out, they went right back, killed the queen and stayed a laying worker hive.

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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    1,084

    Default Re: Laying worker plan criteque wanted

    That often does happen - the shake-out method depends on the LW's not making it back to the hive because the are less likely to fly. That's why I prefer divide-and-destroy. It usually gets the new queen accepted sooner. My first effort was a bit equipment-intensive, but we only killed 2 frames of bees out of 20, and the rest accepted the new queen after about 9 days of her laying eggs under protection of the Laidlaw cage.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Enfield, Ct.
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: Laying worker plan criteque wanted

    I don't know if this is the right spot for this question, but here goes. I am very new to this bee keeping stuff, so new in fact my packages have not even arrived yet (local guy our club orders from said cold n wet in Ga. been postponed 2x). Anyhow, as I've been mowing the lawn here, I see very few honey bees, quite a few bumbles etc but not many honey bees. Earlier when the lone peach tree bloomed there were some but not as many as last year. I guess the question is if I have 3 hives will this land support them. The way I have it figured is either they will go gangbusters because of no competition or maybe die cause of nothing to attract them. I'm south central ohio and it's warm and bees should be everywhere (I think). Any thoughts folks?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    1,084

    Default Re: Laying worker plan criteque wanted

    Welcome aboard, Doc! The best attitude is to start and expect some mistakes, failures, and disasters during the learning curve, BUT KEEP ON PLUGGING ANYWAYS! You're in good company here, lots of help from around the world on beesource.

    If there is sufficient forage within your bees' range, they'll more than likely find it. Bees may go as far as 9 miles in search of water, usually as far as 5 miles for food, but some colonies are stronger at heavy collection at short range, like 1/2 mile. The tendency is likely governed by genetics.

    Keep your eyes open for nectar flows as you drive around your county, keep a notebook and a calendar. A good location or two can be the difference between lackluster bees and too much honey to deal with. Ask other beekeepers and bee clubs.

    Another thing to do is plant a bee garden, but honestly, it takes more than most people have land for! It only helps, it does not support 3 colonies.

    There is a "button" for starting new threads at the top and at the bottom of the page when you first pull up the "bee forum" or "beekeeping 101" forum, before you click on any one thread.

    Best of luck to you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,961

    Default Re: Laying worker plan criteque wanted

    In 20 years or so of beekeeping I have had exactly one laying worker hive, so I'm not sure that I'm one to advise you. But one thing that I wouldn't advise is to move another hive to the place of the laying worker hive for a few days if you shake them out. With my laying worker hive, I took it 100 feet away and shook it out. I was splitting hives, so I put a strong split where the laying worker hive was.

    Apparently all of the bees flew back expecting to find their hive and instead found, what they assumed, were invaders. A small war started and when it was over there was a pile of dead bees in front of the hive about the size of the laying worker hive. I would leave the spot vacant for a couple of days and let the laying worker hive bees find what they know to be a new hive.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    1,084

    Default Re: Laying worker plan criteque wanted

    The idea of the shakeout method is to leave one box (their bottom brood box) with empty comb inside it. The timing and the temperature cooperating are the trick - just as it gets cold in the evening. The laying workers must have been laying a while, so they are heavy with eggs and not prone to fly.
    If your shake out is timed such that the workers can fly back, but the layers get caught in the cold and don't make it back, you give them a night without a queen, and re-queen them in the morning. Shaking them out repeatedly only gets the LW's into good flying shape, so the method really has marginal chance of success. It really helps to get it right the first try.

    If you instead separate the frames of the LW colony, 4 days later you will be able to know which frames have LW's - they have eggs, often the 2 or 3 eggs on the side of the cell. If it is only 1 or 2 frames, you can kill just these few bees, and re-queen or combine the rest of the colony, saving 80 nor 90% of the bees.

    One needs to make a box with 3 or 4 hive partitions, and put 2 frames into each section. After 4 days, the frames with the eggs (with the telltale LW egg-laying pattern) is the compartment with the LW's. The other frames will have only larva grubs. Separate the two frames in that compartment for 4 days, the frame with the eggs is the one with the LW's. Kill all the bees in that compartment, the LW's will be dead.

    Leave the rest of the bees queenless for at least 3 hours, then put them together with a hot, young, mated, strong laying queen. I would strongly suggest a Laidlaw queen introduction cage to introduce her. Watch that they are not forming an attack ball over her cage, but feeding her through the screen before you release her. This may take a while. Meanwhile, check for any more LW egg-laying pattern elsewhere in the hive, as there can indeed be multiple LW's.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,870

    Default Re: Laying worker plan criteque wanted

    I make the call depending on the strength of the laying worker hive, if it is populous I add a frame of fresh eggs a week for several weeks, I have never failed to get a queen doing this. If the numbers have dwindled, I shake them into tall grass. I do not leave a box in the old location.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Drain, OR
    Posts
    424

    Default Re: Laying worker plan criteque wanted

    So the follow up.... This weeks inspection showed me a queen.. I was ready to plop in a frame of eggs from somewhere, but then I saw here wandering around... I haven't found any eggs yet, but I think they were in the middle of supersceding. So I figure I'll give her a little time to see if she starts laying.
    A backyard hobbyist, keeping hives since '09. ~ http://www.sweetthangchocolates.com
    Zone 8a/8b

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