Is this laying worker?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    Bluffton, Indiana, USA
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    Default Is this laying worker?

    We have a hive and we were pretty sure it was queenless for a while. When we checked on May 30th, there was only honey in the hive, and no sign of eggs/larva. There was some capped brood, and some drone brood, but it was very spotty. When we checked on June 10th, there was still no sign of anything, except for one queen cell. We just checked again today. We took two frames out to examine them. The first one (see the attached images) still had the same spotty capped brood (regular, not drone brood), but this time there was eggs and larva. The larva looked a little weird (kinda twisted, not floating in jelly), but we're new to this so maybe that's normal? There were also multiple eggs laid per cell, just like a laying worker.

    But the second one looked MUCH better. I forgot to take a picture, but the brood was much more even and less spotty. The larva looked much fatter and happy. It looked more or less like a healthy brood frames that we've see in our beekeeping class, except that it was still kind of spotty. There was also one empty queen cell at the bottom of the frame, and another full one at the top. The *healthy* brood frame looks like this (not my photo, but ours looks very similar):



    Is it possible for hives to recover from the laying worker stage if they raise a queen in time? Is the spotty brood frame a result of laying worker that hasn't had time to recover yet? I've read that new queens can sometimes lay multiple eggs when they first start laying, so maybe that's what happened here?

    Alternatively, maybe this is a perfectly normal hive and we are judging our bees too harshly?

    Edit: I know what laying worker is-- we have another hive and can maybe recombine, or maybe clear out this hive and use it for a split next year. I just want to make sure we're not doing that unless absolutely necessary, because the other frame looks so much better.

    Pics of the weird frame (note that this is only one frame! the other one looks much healthier): https://imgur.com/FG4IwWk,z7511Vk,XTkPJkd
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by alelliott; 06-25-2016 at 06:42 PM.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    Default Re: Is this laying worker?

    It's laying worker. There are a lot of eggs in some of the cells in your link photo. Laying worker happens after a hive becomes hopelessly queenless. Hopelessly. No hope. The queen cell is a drone they are trying to raise in desperation, but it won't go anywhere. When a hive is queenless, time is ticking on going laying worker. If you have other hives, don't combine, but read a lot about laying worker and the risks of combining them to another hive. They could take it over and turn it into a laying worker hive with no queen. A laying worker hive has no way to recover.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Bluffton, Indiana, USA
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    Default Re: Is this laying worker?

    Thanks for your response!

    Laying worker happens after a hive becomes hopelessly queenless. Hopelessly. No hope. The queen cell is a drone they are trying to raise in desperation, but it won't go anywhere.
    Wait, what? It was definitely not a drone cell. It was clearly a big peanut-shaped queen cell on the edge of the frame. You're saying it just has a drone in it anyway?

    A laying worker hive has no way to recover.
    Even if we add a frame of healthy brood from our other active hive? They won't start raising one of the fertilized larva into a queen?

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Is this laying worker?

    A laying worker has no way to recover on it's own. They do lay unfertilized eggs in queen cells, which are drones. I have had it myself. If you add frames of brood/eggs several times, they can overcome and start a queen cell.

    Your new picture you added in the first post has worker brood. Your adding images and changing what you wrote in your first post a bit. What you had on the first three pictures you posted in the thumbnails, if they were the same hive, was just what laying worker hive would look like. Again, beware of combining laying worker hives with others.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Atlanta, GA, USA
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    Default Re: Is this laying worker?

    I'm looking at your picture and I do not see a laying worker frame. I see single eggs in cells and I see 2 - 3 day old larva. I see worker brood. Look closely for your queen - she's there.
    It is what it is!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Is this laying worker?

    It doesn't look good, but it looks like some worker brood. That comb is all goofy too which is why it's kind of laid up crappy. Half the cells aren't even usable for worker.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Is this laying worker?

    I see multiple eggs in cells in the bottom of some pictures but they and the single laid eggs are all on the bottom. Laying worker eggs will not be all the way down to the cell bottom. Maybe your old queen has been superceded and there is a new one now that has not mastered trigger control!

    If brooding has been shut down for a while the frames can get cluttered with scattered pollen and the queen will not be able to lay a solid pattern. Spotty pattern is sometimes not her fault.
    Frank

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    tacoma, wa. usa
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    180

    Default Re: Is this laying worker?

    I'd agree with crofter...your one picture with normally capped brood, and larvae at different stages looks pretty good. Take some time and look to see if you can find your new queen if she is there....A laying worker does lay multiple eggs, but you would see nothing but the typical bullet shaped drone cells...and lots of them! New queens can do this too. If the hive has been queenless for some time, you'd also notice a disproportionate number of drones wandering around on the frames...I'd guess that you have a queen in there somewhere.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Bluffton, Indiana, USA
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    Default Re: Is this laying worker?

    Your new picture you added in the first post has worker brood.
    But so do the original pictures! There's no drone brood in any of those, not that I could see. If you see it, could you point it out to me?

    Your adding images and changing what you wrote in your first post a bit
    Apologies, I was trying to elaborate and make things clearer, I should have included a note with my edits. In typing this from a phone so formatting and stuff is kind of tricky.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    Bluffton, Indiana, USA
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    Default Re: Is this laying worker?

    if brooding has been shut down for a while the frames can get cluttered with scattered pollen and the queen will not be able to lay a solid pattern. Spotty pattern is sometimes not her fault.
    Yeah that makes sense. We first noticed weird behavior back in May and there was almost no brood to speak of, only honey. So she probably didn't have a place to lay.


    Laying worker eggs will not be all the way down to the cell bottom. Maybe your old queen has been superceded and there is a new one now that has not mastered trigger control
    That's what I'm thinking. There were no more than 3 eggs at most in the cells and I have heard that new queens can sometimes be very excited when they start laying for the first time.

    Thanks for all of your input!

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Is this laying worker?

    By the time they have a laying worker problem the capped brood would have emerged. That brood was open brood a few days ago and would suppress laying workers. That brood came from a laying queen. You have a few double eggs, but that doesn't prove laying workers, and the eggs appear to be on the bottom of the cell. I doubt it's laying workers.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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