A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?
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  1. #1
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    Default A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    A laying worker confirms missing queen, or missing brood ?
    I had a small hive, I thought died in the last cold spell, but when it warmed up a little & I went to clean it up, there was a nice little cluster of bees in the hive, so I closed it up before they got cold.
    A pretty decent weekend now, I do frame by frame inspection, I find very few bees, maybe a dozen capped worker cells, no queen ( not unusual for me not to spot a queen in any box).
    There are two open cells with larva in the whole hive, and some fresh looking eggs. aybe 4 square inches of cells with eggs, total.
    Hive is rich with pollen & nectar, & has a few stores left from over wintering.
    Some of the cells have multiple eggs, which says "laying worker", but some cells look ok.
    There are a lot of sugar grains in the frames from mountain camp supplemental sugar.
    I do not know if there is a queen in the box or not, but to prop things up, after checking an out yard, I brought a frame of capped brood & nurse bees from a much stronger hive & added to this hive. I would not mind having drones from the last years queen in my area, they were pretty gentle, if not great hoarders, or fast brooders. But if I have a laying worker & no queen, the bees will not make queen cells even if they get fresh eggs right?
    Will the capped brood suppress the laying worker(s), & then the bees will make queen cells with appropriate aged offspring?
    If I have to requeen, the hive I stole the frame from is not the one I want make a queen from.
    Thanks, CE
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    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    The bees will probably not make a queen if you have a laying worker. It appears that you do. It will also be hard to get them to accept a new queen because they think they have a queen. You could probably combine them with another hive and then split them in a week or two with some fresh brood.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    Those don't look like laying worker eggs. You probably have a queen in there. What size is the cluster?
    You likely don't have enough bees in there for the queen to lay more than a small patch.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonathan View Post
    Those don't look like laying worker eggs. You probably have a queen in there. What size is the cluster?
    You likely don't have enough bees in there for the queen to lay more than a small patch.
    Most of those cells have 2 or even 3 eggs. Would a queen do that?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    Quote Originally Posted by dsegrest View Post
    Most of those cells have 2 or even 3 eggs. Would a queen do that?
    I have see queens lay multiple eggs in cells, when she is starting to lay in the early spring. When the cluster is large enough to cover more of an area and a little time goes on, it should begin to look normal. The fact that there are a dozen capped worker brood could show that they are just getting going for the season. That would be if that is a viable patch of brood.
    Donny

  7. #6
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    Quote Originally Posted by dsegrest View Post
    Most of those cells have 2 or even 3 eggs. Would a queen do that?
    Yes, especially if she has not enough bees with her.
    It is very common to see that with a small cluster.
    I find that laying worker eggs vary a lot in size. Some look normal but lots are too small.
    I have photos showing over a dozen eggs in one cell and I have a photo showing 3 larvae in one cell.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    Thanks for the opinions & reassurances.
    I will watch them a few days, & see what they do. if all the larva cap as drones, that will tell, & by that time there should be plenty of drones flying here to mate a virgin queen if they have to grow one.
    ... CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    Newbie question -- I thought capped worker cells indicated a queen is present. Not true?
    Those eggs are also in the bottoms of cells and my understanding is that a laying worker will not be able to get the eggs all the way into the bottom of the cell; another indicator that the queen is in there.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    The thing about the laying worker eggs being on the side is something of a myth as they often get the eggs down on the bottom of the cell.
    These are laying worker eggs, most in the bottom and multiple larvae present as well.

    laying-workers-in-apidea.jpg

  11. #10
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    >Most of those cells have 2 or even 3 eggs. Would a queen do that?

    Yes. They are all in the bottom of the cells and you seldom have more than two in those...
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfallacies.htm#doubleeggs
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  12. #11
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonathan View Post
    The thing about the laying worker eggs being on the side is something of a myth as they often get the eggs down on the bottom of the cell.
    These are laying worker eggs, most in the bottom and multiple larvae present as well.

    laying-workers-in-apidea.jpg
    Jonathan that's not even fully drawn comb. Have you seen that result in a frame of full-depth comb?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    It's normal depth comb but in a mini mating nuc.
    Laying workers develop very quickly in these if they go queenless, usually between 2 and 3 weeks.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    If you don't have many bees in the hive you should be able to see a Queen. You don't have huge numbers of eggs in each cell, the eggs are in the bottom of the cell.
    You could put open brood in each week and see if after placements they start making a Queen.
    Also you will have some idea when those cells are capped...if worker brood you likely have a Queen.
    Time and addition of open will solve the puzzle.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  15. #14
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonathan View Post
    It's normal depth comb but in a mini mating nuc.
    Laying workers develop very quickly in these if they go queenless, usually between 2 and 3 weeks.
    Thanks! I can see there are LOTS of tiny eggs in many of those cells, some of which are clearly in the middle of the cells. very interesting

  16. #15
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    I've never seen laying worker lay on the side of cells, they've always been in the bottom for me. If the cluster is small, a queen will lay multiples since she wants to lay eggs but is confined to such a small space. You will know in 10 days anyways when it's capped whether or not it's worker or drones.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    >Thanks! I can see there are LOTS of tiny eggs in many of those cells, some of which are clearly in the middle of the cells. very interesting

    If you are in the realm of more than four eggs per cell, I would look closer. First signs of laying workers are often queen cells with round caps, round caps scattered around, but usually not solid. On occasional larvae here and there scattered around. Then as things progress you see a lot of multiple eggs until some of the cells look almost "hairy" with eggs. Laying workers can reach the bottom of drone cells and will lay on the bottom of them and even prefer them for that reason. They can reach the bottom of a cell half full of pollen and will lay on that as well.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  18. #17
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    Default Re: A laying worker confirms missing queen, or maybe not?

    A couple of people told me they had seen eggs laid on pollen and I was skeptical but then I saw it for myself in one of my own colonies.

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