Method for remediating to "laying workers" colonies
by Jean-Marie Van Dyck
Laying workers are really a jinx in an apiary. They are even more annoying if you breed queens. When you destroy a "laying workers" colony in your apiary, don't think that the bees in it will perish. Apart from a few young bees that are still unable to fly, all bees, more or less individually, will look for a new habitat. And most will be accepted by the guardians of the neighbouring hives with a particular attitude.
Laying workers are also quite capable of flying, but few of them make it past the guard of established hives. However, they can enter a hive (mini-plus, apidea or other types), less well protected... and they kill the very young queens of these nuclei. The few pheromones emitted by these young queens, especially inseminates, do not yet protect them effectively enough.
Removal of a colony of laying workers
It is obvious that a colony with only a few bees is not worth preserving. So shake them away from your farm, with an apiary at the established colonies. But it may be interesting to keep powerful colonies that have become orphaned and then buzzed.
For the past twenty years or so, I have been using a method, always with success. Only once was the introduced queen killed, but another queen was present, mea culpa! All my emulators, including Swedes, are unanimous: it works!
I found this method by experimenting with the procedure described by Dr. Wallon, and since then advocated by his disciples. Mr. Hector Wallon, a beekeeper and doctor, had developed and described a theory to explain the action of hypothetical substances he called sexoclasins. On buzzing colonies, he used the alcoholic extract of poppy eggs to promote the remeasurement of buzzing colonies (see La Belgique Apicole 25(3) 1961 pp.51-56).
The process I am proposing to you today, based on his experiences, is extremely simple. It requires no complicated equipment, no handling of frames or bees. What I am about to describe could be modified somewhat. One could probably be less strict about the queen's condition, or even use a virgin queen or royal cells. But it would be with less guarantee of satisfaction: executed as I describe it to you, the result is 100% guaranteed.
The necessary equipment
1)A colony without a queen with laying workers.
2)A laying queen, whatever her qualities, that is removed from her colony just before this treatment. It is not advisable to use a queen who has been travelling or stuck in a cage for a day or two. No importance on the qualities of this queen, but it is really preferable not to use a queen too young, whose egg laying is not well established (at least 2 months of egg-laying). Personally, I usually use some queens of one year or more that I keep for this purpose (queens giving bees to create nuclei). Unless she is a queen beating the longevity record, the oldest queen in the apiary is fine.
3)A queen's cage with a little candy.
4)A plastic bag of the suitable size to place point 5 into.
5)Two cartons, beer coasters, or equivalent absorbent paper that will be impregnated with the 6 below.
6)Alcohol from 20 to 40%, concentration does not seem to matter much, it works with simple alcohol, but also with Juniper, Gin, Schnaps, Whisky and other Bourbon or Cognac. You can also save a few drops for the operator, but this is not really essential to success.
That's all, and therefore within everyone's reach.
The method to follow: this is exactly what I do...
Work generally at the end of the day (I try, as much as possible, to handle bees at the end of the day).
Make sure that the colony IS QUEENLESS: if not, no problem, it will be the failure and loss of the introduced queen.
Insert the laying queen (open cage opening flap) with a plug of about 10 to 15 mm of candy. The queen can be alone or accompanied by 4 or 5 young workers from her colony. This cage is kept warm (in my shirt pocket).
Place two thick cardboards (such as beer cardboard or absorbent paper) in the small plastic bag. Pour 20 to 30 ml of the chosen alcohol into the plastic bag and allow the cardboard to soak well. (Don't drink the rest now, it's not over yet!)
Open the laying workers colony, smoke gently, please (never smoke too much, by the way!).
Place the well-soaked cardboards on top of the frames near the brood nest.
A little smoke
Pin the cage between two brood frames and between the cardboards.
Close the hive. It's over now.
It is possible to see the queen on her frame the next day, but I prefer to look just two days later. After a normal week of laying, you can do anything with this colony. But do not forget that there are very few young female workers left in this hive. The introduction of an emerging brood frame makes it possible to compensate for this.
So that's the process: very simple and guaranteed flawless if it is done correctly. Try it at the next opportunity and feel free to talk about it around you.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator