Laying worker bee
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Caulfield, MO
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    4

    Default Laying worker bee

    We seem to have a laying worker bee. Lots of things point to that. Assuming this is the case, what is the best was
    way to correct the problem. First year with bees and now this we are very discouraged.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Ardnamurchan and Fife, Scotland
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    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    Have you more than one hive? Makes a big difference to the solution. With one hive only you're going to struggle.

    I shake out the hive 100m away, allowing the flyers to return to the original site where I leave a hive with drawn comb/foundation and a single frame of eggs and young larvae. Many laying workers will fly back, but numbers are much reduced and they sometimes draw QC's and then rescue the situation.

    If they ignore the eggs/larvae and continue to lay eggs in the new drawn comb I just shake them out in front of a large, strong hive.

    In my view adding frame after frame of open brood to suppress laying workers is a waste of resources.
    The Apiarist - beekeeping in Fife, Scotland

  4. #3
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    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    4,646

  5. #4
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    Jul 2009
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    nashville tn usa
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    453

    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    FP has got that right....just wasted two frames of good brood+eggs trying to stop them also 2 new queens. They were killed! I shook all the bees off ... not 100yds away... and removed all drone brood. Trying to stop LWs is a low percentage endeavor ... IMO I would let them go and start anew.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,760

    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    >We seem to have a laying worker bee.

    You do not. You either have a few laying worker bees in a queenright hive, or you have thousands in a queenless hive, but I gaurantee, you do NOT have *A* laying worker bee.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfallaci...nelayingworker
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Dayton, OH USA
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    328

    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    I spoke to someone who had good experience with placing the LW hive on top of a queen right hive separated by a double screen. The queen's pheromones will suppress the LWs. After a couple of weeks, remove it and requeen it. Worth a try, she claimed it worked well.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Ball Ground, Ga, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    I've fought this battle a few times and never could get things worked out. This year had a hive come out of winter losing a queen and they were queen less for quite some time. Luckily the bees were building up early this year and I could rob 3 frames of brood at different stages, with a couple queen cells. dumped them in and left them alone for about 3 weeks. Worked really well. My thought was the brood pheromone; but maybe the QC had something to do with it as well.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
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    5,400

    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    Queen Pheromones DO NOT suspend laying workers! It is the pheromones produced by the fertilized brood that keep the laying worker in check. Once the hive has turned laying worker, They must be brought in check by brood pheromones. Yes, placing a queen right hive with a screen between will allow the brood Pheromones to suppress the laying worker.
    However because these pheromones are more tangible than simply smells the process works more efficiently when the bees are able to contact the brood, thus carrying these compounds throughout the hive manually. Adding a frame of brood every week will usually suspend the laying worker in two weeks and the bees will draw a queen cell on the third frame (results may vary). The true Beauty in this method is you can take brood from the hive you wish. For me one of my best hives I usually use brood from any hive for the first two additions, then I place brood from one of my best hives (usually a Black Onyx) in this way I build the overall quality of the apiary rather than combining two poor quality hives to make a larger one.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Gagetown,Mi
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    61

    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    Quote Originally Posted by beecron View Post
    I spoke to someone who had good experience with placing the LW hive on top of a queen right hive separated by a double screen. The queen's pheromones will suppress the LWs. After a couple of weeks, remove it and requeen it. Worth a try, she claimed it worked well.
    I recently combined a laying worker hive with a queen rite hive doing this. Instead of screen I used a couple layers of newspaper. Within a week they were looking good.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Jonestown, Colunbia County,PA
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    86

    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    I don't have a problem but I do have some questions.
    Do they raise the LW eggs as drones in drone cells or regular size cells? I know they'll be drones when hatched.
    Do they know the difference between fertilized and non-fertilized eggs? Will they try to raise a queen from a LW egg? I know the queen lays eggs based on the size of the cell but can the workers tell fertilized from non-fertilized eggs?

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    Robeson County, North Carolina
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    737

    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hancock View Post
    I don't have a problem but I do have some questions.
    Do they raise the LW eggs as drones in drone cells or regular size cells? I know they'll be drones when hatched.
    Any cell that is available. When laid in worker cells, the developing drone expands the size of the cell making it unsuitable for anything but drones.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hancock View Post
    Do they know the difference between fertilized and non-fertilized eggs?
    No, that is the whole idea behind adding frames of wet brood, hoping they will raise a queen from a fertilized egg. They will build queen cells and in my experience lay multiple eggs in those cells.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hancock View Post
    Will they try to raise a queen from a LW egg? I know the queen lays eggs based on the size of the cell but can the workers tell fertilized from non-fertilized eggs?
    Yes. "Try" being the operative term.

  13. #12
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    >Do they raise the LW eggs as drones in drone cells or regular size cells?

    Yes. Both. The laying workers do seem to like the drone cells a little better, but they lay in all of them.

    >Do they know the difference between fertilized and non-fertilized eggs?

    They do.

    > Will they try to raise a queen from a LW egg?

    Every time. Then they will tear it down shortly after it's capped.

    > I know the queen lays eggs based on the size of the cell but can the workers tell fertilized from non-fertilized eggs?

    Yes. They can tell and the egg police do their best to remove all of those drone eggs from worker cells. But by the time you are seeing multiple eggs there are thousands of laying workers and fewer and fewer egg police to do the job.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  14. #13
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    King Township, Ont. Can.
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    3

    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    A couple of weeks ago I seemed to have solved this problem. I took the laying worker hive about 100 yds away, shook all the bees out, brought one deep box back to the original location, added an entrance reducer set at its smallest opening then installed a nuc that I picked up that morning from a local supplier. The entrance reducer allowed the foraging bees to gradually make it into the hive. I didn't mind buying the nuc because I would have needed to next spring the way things were going regardless. So far so good.

  15. #14
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    Oct 2015
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    camden, tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    With the splits and manipulations I have done this year and various other lesser understood variables I have had 2 laying worker hives this year and one spent queen hive. Found the spent queen much too early in the year for a replacement so that hive got newspaper combined with one down the line. I made a queen cell split at an out yard that didn't succeed and due to my work schedule I never made it out to check on them until the laying workers took over. I newspaper combined them back where they came from as that hive was still doing well enough to handle them.

    I think you are ok if you don't combine a large laying worker hive with a smaller hive. I understand that the laying workers will kill your queen if they can overpower her. Not sure if the workers in the queen right hive do anything to defend their queen against an attack by laying workers but I would hope they would.

  16. #15
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    Oct 2015
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    camden, tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    Quote Originally Posted by IanM View Post
    A couple of weeks ago I seemed to have solved this problem. I took the laying worker hive about 100 yds away, shook all the bees out, brought one deep box back to the original location, added an entrance reducer set at its smallest opening then installed a nuc that I picked up that morning from a local supplier. The entrance reducer allowed the foraging bees to gradually make it into the hive. I didn't mind buying the nuc because I would have needed to next spring the way things were going regardless. So far so good.

    That seems like it would work quite well if one had a nuc available.

  17. #16
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    Sep 2016
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    Chattanooga, TN
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    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    Two differing responses to Jim Hancock's question if LW's know the difference between fertilized & non-fertilized eggs -

    cervus answered: No
    Michael Bush answered: Yes

    For the benefit of myself and future readers, which answer is correct?
    Zone 7a - 1650ft

  18. #17
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    Sep 2016
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    Chattanooga, TN
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    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    And to the OP's question....

    I hived a swarm on April 26th. All I had to give them was undrawn plastic foundation. I made weekly inspections. The bees were pulling wax and storing nectar/pollen. But I did not see a queen or eggs.

    On May 14th, I saw approximately 2 dozen cells with multiple eggs. Some eggs even laid in cells with pollen. I decided that I had the beginnings of a LW issue. I donated a frame of eggs/larvae from another hive.

    On May 20th, I donated another frame to the hive. I saw no signs of them building queen cells on the first frame.

    On May 23rd, I saw multiple queen cells on the second donated frame. This led me to believe that they were trying to create a queen. I had an extra purchased queen (mated) from another issue. I cut out the queen cells and introduced her to the hive in her cage with a couple of attendants. I did smear the cage with some honey.

    On May 27th, I inspected the queen. She was still in her cage. The bees were not showing aggressive behavior towards her. About 3/4's of the candy barrier was eaten away. I released her.

    Fast forward to my last inspection on June 17th: I saw eggs, larvae, capped brood. Note that I had seen the queen on my June 6th inspection actually laying an egg.

    What I did was based off of the posts that I had read on this site and some other sites. You don't have to buy a queen for them if you have donor frames from other hives. You just have to keep giving them frames until they decide to make a queen.
    Zone 7a - 1650ft

  19. #18
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    May 2016
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    Robeson County, North Carolina
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    737

    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    Duplicate
    Last edited by cervus; 06-25-2017 at 09:12 AM. Reason: duplicate post

  20. #19
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    May 2016
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    Robeson County, North Carolina
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    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    Quote Originally Posted by Spur9 View Post
    Two differing responses to Jim Hancock's question if LW's know the difference between fertilized & non-fertilized eggs -

    cervus answered: No
    Michael Bush answered: Yes

    For the benefit of myself and future readers, which answer is correct?
    My money would be on Michael Bush. I was referring to the situation where the laying worker hive finally creates a queen cell on a frame of donated eggs/ brood. In my experience, LW were making several queen cells and depositing eggs in same. Only after the second frame of eggs/brood from another hive did they make a queen cell with a fertilized egg. I assumed they didn't give one iota about the raw material, the queen cell process was automatic. Fertilized egg or unfertilized egg, it made no difference. It's entirely possible it was simply luck of the draw that the process started on a fertilized egg.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
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    "Great Green Way", Queensland, Australia
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    Default Re: Laying worker bee

    Quote Originally Posted by Spur9 View Post
    And to the OP's question....
    (edit)
    You just have to keep giving them frames until they decide to make a queen.
    ... and from brood of differing genetics.

    As to your question?
    "Yes" is true... and read Mr. Bush's reasoning as to why.

    Feeding LW eggs is activity around LWs the brood cops cannot keep up with when busy tossing out LW eggs and tearing down faux queen cells.
    The greater the numbers the less success the egg cops have and so, let go/ignored, the colony will die.
    As a kind of test?
    Take a frame with fresh fertile eggs in it and give it a good thump at maybe 25 degrees (angle) on the hive body, eggs will dislodge yet not all fall out.
    Come back in a day or so to find that frame has been recleaned ready for new eggs. Proof to myself savvy workers (not LWs) know a queen has laid the egg over an LW lay, as LW eggs are always never at the bottom of a cell.
    Which is what your test will duplicate.

    Cheers.


    Bill

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