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  1. #1
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    Jan 2003
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    Default Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    She's quite large and from all appearances seems healthy. The colony looks just like a laying worker colony - full of drone brood (capped and across many frames). This does not appear like you may see when a queen is just starting out. I'm talking lots of drone brood. I almost shook out this colony until I saw the big beautiful queen lumbering around. This came from a cut-down split that didn't take on the first try. I went back in and gave them a frame of eggs. They made nice queen, but something is definitely wrong. Could it be that the delay in getting them queenright after the split put them closer to LW state and the new mated queen can't overcome this - hard to believe? I've never seem a queen that clearly appears to be mated and laying only drones for an extended period.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  2. #2
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    Drone laying queens are queens that mated late or queens that ran out of sperm. They are pretty much normal in size. A late mated queen is somewhat oddly shaped being a bit fatter at the point where the abdomen meets the thorax and a bit more pointy. One that has run out of sperm looks perfectly normal. Any queen that lays eggs has been mated. It's a question of when (the first 21 days or after) or if they have run out of sperm.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    Thanks for that info. She looks perfectly shaped. I guess if she's a drone layer then she must have mated too late. Still kind of puzzled why that would have happened. Got many other queens successfully mated during the same time period.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Yucca Valley CA USA
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    83

    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    So a queen who lays, must have mated at some point, for sure? This is really important for one of my own hives ...

    I had heard a non mated queen would just start laying and be a drone layer.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Northern Virginia
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    754

    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    I have also had laying queens become drone layers later in the season- or the following Spring. Poorly mated- just ran out of juice as MB said
    karla

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    Quote Originally Posted by winevines View Post
    I have also had laying queens become drone layers later in the season- or the following Spring. Poorly mated- just ran out of juice as MB said
    Yes, I've seen them run out and start throwing drones, but this queen is for sure new last month. I see the cell she emerged from off the frame of eggs I gave them. She looks SO normal. In fact, if I had purchased her I would be smiling because she's so nice looking (big and nicely shaped). That's why part of me believes that its the colony, which was queenless far longer than normal due to the failed cut-down.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Casey, Il, USA
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    1,067

    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    how long has she been hatched ?

  8. #8
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    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    2,863

    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    I just pinched a nice large queen from a spring package, she looked every bit normal, but her egg laying went downhill and was only laying drones the last couple weeks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA, USA
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    194

    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    I also received one drone layer -- appeared fine ---laid well. Except no workers were capped.

  10. #10
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    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    I had a drone layer queen from last Fall when she was laying well this Spring. Then suddenly she turn into a
    drone layer. That was when I caged her so that I can make more nucs before the hive was full of drones.
    From this hive I have 4 colonies now with well mated queens. She is dead now. But she appeared just normal big
    and healthy just like what you described. It is time to get a new queen or combine this hive.
    Gratefulness is the key to a happy lifeIf we are not grateful then we will not be happy since we always want something +

  11. #11
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    Dec 2010
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    Ojai, California
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    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    Anabee-

    Queens are female bees raised from fertilized eggs, having 16 chromosomes from her father, 16 from her mother queen, totaling 32 chromosomes and are referred to as "diploid". Queens are raised on food (royal jelly) that is substantially higher quality than that food fed to worker females. This royal jelly develops the queen's ovaries, and a number of other morphological differences from worker females, including a spermatheca, where sperm and semen from her mating flight (or flights - she may make more than one mating flight) are stored for the rest of her life or until they are depleted.

    Drones are male bees grown from unfertilized eggs, hence are "haploid", having only 16 chromosomes from their mother, and essentially no father.

    Check out on Google, the keywords, "drone life cycle" and look up the related articles.

    Beepro - once they go Laying Worker don't combine them. They are difficult to deal with, and combining them can cause a huge fight. Drone layer yes, Laying Worker no.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    I have one that I don't think ever laid an egg of any kind, and another that laid 6-8 square inches and stopped. Both looked perfectly normal although the second one has gotten long and thin. Very weird. Neither hive will start cells when given brood.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  13. #13
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    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    Yep, I have seen stranger things that happened in the world of beekeeping. Weirder things had
    happened to me already. Dealing with LWs I give them an about to hatch qc. Then she will lay
    good worker eggs to out live the LWs later on. So far 3 LW hives had been saved this way. I will never
    combine a laying worker hive that they will kill off each others. I had done a shook out before but that
    did not help much. Only by a giving them a good laying queen will help for the long term livelihood of the colony.
    Gratefulness is the key to a happy lifeIf we are not grateful then we will not be happy since we always want something +

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Yucca Valley CA USA
    Posts
    83

    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    My question was just will a non mated queen start to lay at all.

    I realize the differences of them though. I have a queen with questionable mating history that IS laying, that was the reason for my wondering.



    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    Anabee-

    Queens are female bees raised from fertilized eggs, having 16 chromosomes from her father, 16 from her mother queen, totaling 32 chromosomes and are referred to as "diploid". Queens are raised on food (royal jelly) that is substantially higher quality than that food fed to worker females. This royal jelly develops the queen's ovaries, and a number of other morphological differences from worker females, including a spermatheca, where sperm and semen from her mating flight (or flights - she may make more than one mating flight) are stored for the rest of her life or until they are depleted.

    Drones are male bees grown from unfertilized eggs, hence are "haploid", having only 16 chromosomes from their mother, and essentially no father.

    Check out on Google, the keywords, "drone life cycle" and look up the related articles.

    Beepro - once they go Laying Worker don't combine them. They are difficult to deal with, and combining them can cause a huge fight. Drone layer yes, Laying Worker no.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,064

    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    Annabee - The answers you are getting are complicated because while the simple answer to your question could be "maybe." An emphatic "No!" Would be simplistic.

    An unmated queen could not lay fertilized worker eggs, but could she lay drone eggs? I for one don't know, but I don't suspect that is what you meant by your question any way. An unmated queen will never be useful for a rank and file beekeeper. But If your queen has laid any worker brood at all then she IS mated. Poorly perhaps, but mated nonetheless.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Yucca Valley CA USA
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    83

    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    I think my curiosity on it is really, if she has never flown and mated, would she even be inclined TO lay?

    And there's likely different answers for different queens on that, really.

    My mistake I believe was allowing this new package to supercede -- the original queen had some brood going, and I think they were over anxious. If I had removed all queen cells instead of allowing them to do what they thought best, the colony might be strong now. However, you never know .. most of the bees did drift to the other hive, so ... there might really have been something failing with that queen too.

    It's all a learning experience

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Murray County, Georgia
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    213

    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    It is possible to have a good queen and laying workers if the queen hatched or was introduced too late. I've had some where I had a mass of laying workers concurrently with a good queen. What I see in that case is worker brood amongst drone brood and drone brood spread throughout the whole hive. It takes a few weeks for things to get straightened out.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,113

    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    >So a queen who lays, must have mated at some point, for sure? This is really important for one of my own hives ...
    > I had heard a non mated queen would just start laying and be a drone layer.

    I have had queens with crumpled wings who could not mate. None of them ever laid an egg. I have had queens that mated late, they become drone layers. It is a common belief that queens who don't mate will become drone layers. I have not found this to be true. Queens that don't mate, in my experience, never lay.

    Huber came to the same conclusions.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    960

    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    Well, Annabee, allow me to qualify something - SOME bees DO exhibit parthenogenisis. I believe that race (or perhaps species?) of bees is in South Africa. Being that other Hymnopera can do it, it would not surprise me if the trait isn't distributed about a bit more than we realize. It has been a while since I read about them, and I don't remember all the details, so I will look them up again.

    Also, we notice that Queens impregnated by Instrumental Insemination may or may not go on mating flights after being inseminated. I suspect it has something to do with the 2 exposures to CO2 intended to bring about oviposition. Technically speaking, the ones that were inseminated and did not go on mating flights did not mate, yet lay plenty of worker brood or drone brood as they see fit. This point may be moot in relation to your question, but I include it as it may still give some insight as to what goes on in the bee world.

    Interesting that you do track your queens mating flights! I think you are headed for an interesting beekeeping career.

    Beepro - great way to handle LW's! Thank you for sharing that.
    I've tried separating them into 1-frame colonies and ellinating the offenders, while combining the bees on frames that had no eggs, innundating them with QMP, queen juice, and pheromones, shakeouts up to 500 yards. So far, the "divide-and-destroy" approach has had the least negative effect, but I will try adding a mature queen cell.

    How long before things return to normal if the "treatment" is successful? I guessing about 6 weeks?

  20. #20
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    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Queen looks mated but throwing only drones

    KC, when giving them a mature qc be sure to protect the cell otherwise they
    will not hesitate to destroy it. I had also loss many qcs this way.
    Even a mated queen will destroy these qcs without regard. I had seen this happened
    right in front of me on a hive check.
    Gratefulness is the key to a happy lifeIf we are not grateful then we will not be happy since we always want something +

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