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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Trenton, SC
    Posts
    99

    Default The dreaded laying workers!!

    So I had a package where the queen wasn't laying and eventually went missing. I put in a frame of eggs and they drew out queen cells. Then Murphy's law struck and I discovered eggs in my other frames. Wasn't sure if the queen was still there, so I put the frame with queen cells in a nuc with a frame of honey (sugar syrup). Looking back, I knew the queen wasn't there. I'm pretty good at spotting them and I looked all through that hive. Should have trusted my instincts.....

    Nuc queen hatched around Monday or Tuesday and is doing well. There are a few eggs already in the nuc, which seems a bit early, but that's not really the issue.

    The other hive now has laying workers. If anyone who hasn't seen that before wants to know what it looks like, here it is -

    Laying workers.jpg

    I had this once before and added a frame of brood, did a bee shake (I've learned since then that that procedure is iffy), and put a bought queen in the hive for a week in her cage. Released her after a week and the hive turned into a boomer.

    So, I'm planning on following the method of adding a frame of open brood every week for three weeks. A couple of concerns -

    Possible donor hives -
    2 first year nucs, one is already working on a honey super, the other is still working on the second brood box
    2 packages (Installed last Friday in May), both are working on their second brood box
    A split that has 7 frames of brood (like the genetics of this hive), just put on a second brood box.

    I'm thinking that I'll pull a frame each from a nuc, a package, and the split over three weeks. I'll freeze the frame that I'm swapping from the laying worker hive overnight to kill the drones. Will that work?

    So I started with a three pound package and split it when all this started. Will there be enough bees to keep three frames (eventually) of brood warm? That's not enough time for any new bees to hatch if I'm starting with eggs.

    I'm open to any other suggestions. I'd really like to put the two back together now that I have a queen, but I don't think that's possible. I split them on Monday if that helps.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,380

    Default Re: The dreaded laying workers!!

    It's too bad you took away their queen cell, before she emerged. She may have been accepted as their new queen.

    Anyway, there's nothing wrong with giving them a frame of emerging worker brood, too. Or even if you wait until a frame of worker brood has started emerging, and the vacated cells are being laid in, so the comb is about half still sealed and emerging worker bees, and half new worker eggs. Because it isn't "open brood" that is best to donate to an, "out-of-control" laying worker colony, but a comb of eggs. The emerging worker brood, can boost their population, and the eggs can give them open brood and brood young enough, that they can raise a replacement queen from. Eggs are least costly to the donating hive. So if a queen is present on the frame to be donated, she should be removed gently, then some of the other adult bees should be shaken from that comb, then it can be given to the afflicted colony. The remaining sealed brood on the donor comb will emerge and begin to care for their sister eggs. Hopefully, soon to raise one into their new queen.

    Worst case is, you'll need to repeat the donation until they do raise themselves a new queen.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Bertie County,NC
    Posts
    870

    Default Re: The dreaded laying workers!!

    I am not totally convinced that your picture shows a laying worker....it looks like there are two eggs in most of the cells, but they all appear to be all the way at the bottom of the hive....which could possibly be just a young queen laying extra eggs.

    Not sure, but from the pictures that is what I see?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Trenton, SC
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: The dreaded laying workers!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    Or even if you wait until a frame of worker brood has started emerging, and the vacated cells are being laid in, so the comb is about half still sealed and emerging worker bees, and half new worker eggs. The remaining sealed brood on the donor comb will emerge and begin to care for their sister eggs. Hopefully, soon to raise one into their new queen.
    That makes a lot of sense. In other words, the new bees will hopefully go ahead, do the right thing and make a queen, and keep the "crazies" from their mischief. I'm going to do that today when it warms up.

    Will the laying workers ruin the open cells containing just eggs before the new bees emerge? Should I look for a frame with a mix of emerging brood, eggs, and young larva? I've heard that they make a queen from a three day old larva.....

    I think that I can get this thing right again by following your advice and using a little patience. The only remaining question I have is - will the two colonies be able to build up enough before winter. They've got a long way to go. I guess that time will tell....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Trenton, SC
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: The dreaded laying workers!!

    Quote Originally Posted by NewJoe View Post
    I am not totally convinced that your picture shows a laying worker....it looks like there are two eggs in most of the cells, but they all appear to be all the way at the bottom of the hive....which could possibly be just a young queen laying extra eggs.

    Not sure, but from the pictures that is what I see?
    I was right there with you. This is what it looked like when I did the split and couldn't find the queen -

    queenless.jpg

    Which is why I did the split. I don't know if the old queen got the picture when they started making queen cells, then they ran her out or killed her when the cells were capped or what.....

    Here's a better pic of how it looks now -

    laying workers 2.jpg

    I'm kind of stumped too, because like you said they're all on the bottom. This is drone comb in the pic. Don't know if that makes a difference.... The worker comb doesn't have as many eggs in each cell, but the larva are all drones. Bullets sticking out everywhere......

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Pinellass County, Florida
    Posts
    1,111

    Default Re: The dreaded laying workers!!

    You have a new queen doing that IMHO
    Or a bad queen in which the bees will make another
    Queen (gump queen)

    But I'd bet it is young and slowly maturing

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,208

    Default Re: The dreaded laying workers!!

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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,380

    Default Re: The dreaded laying workers!!

    I think Michael Bush's plan of adding open brood/eggs to hives with possible queen issues is one of the best techniques in beekeeping. It is an almost certain method of saving a weak or failing hive, and bringing them back into strength and health. It is quick and minimally invasive, and takes the least resources from the donor colony, for the most affect on the recipient colony.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

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