Does a queen stop laying eggs completely at end of life?
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  1. #1
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    Default Does a queen stop laying eggs completely at end of life?

    I understand that a queen may run out of sperm and become a drone layer.
    I understand that a queen may reduce her egg laying rate as she ages.

    But will a queen ever stop laying eggs completely because she cannot produce eggs? I am not referring to a damaged queen or outside issues (dearth). Specifically just want to know if it's been observed that a queen which makes it to several years of age will stop laying.
    Zone 7a - 1650ft

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Does a queen stop laying eggs completely at end of life?

    I have seen queens that appeared to not be laying anymore and were being superseded. But it's possible the workers were just removing the eggs before I saw them...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Does a queen stop laying eggs completely at end of life?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    But it's possible the workers were just removing the eggs before I saw them...
    That may be what was happening with one of my hives. I watched a queen walk around and stick her rear end in several cells. Even saw an egg get discharged as she was walking across some cells. But after giving her a week and checking for eggs/larvae, I found nothing.

    I just don't recall ever reading anything that specifically stated a queen would not lay eggs at all - fertilized or unfertilized.
    Zone 7a - 1650ft

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Does a queen stop laying eggs completely at end of life?

    There's no prima facie reason why a queen should ever lose the ability to produce eggs - that is, providing she's being fed - as she's actually 'manufacturing' eggs from the biochemicals within her body. Therefore the number of eggs is - for all intents and purposes - infinite. Sperm however is a different matter, as she only holds a finite amount of that.

    Her 'end of life' is of course not decided by her ability to lay eggs or not - but by the colony's assessment of her all-round ability.

    But - there are times during the life of a queen when she does stop laying eggs - so there must be some triggers which determine this.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Does a queen stop laying eggs completely at end of life?

    I’ve got one of those right now. Overwintered Q, doing fine. My note on the box from the middle of May, “pattern?”. Now, no more eggs, there’s still plenty of capped brood left, no Q cells, she’s there looking healthy. Very odd.
    Rod

  7. #6
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: Does a queen stop laying eggs completely at end of life?

    On occasion when a queen is caged, she never starts laying again. I have seen it happen and continue for some time, as I allowed it out of curiosity. She wandered around not laying in a failing nuc for six weeks before I shook them out.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Does a queen stop laying eggs completely at end of life?

    Quote Originally Posted by rwlaw View Post
    I’ve got one of those right now. Overwintered Q, doing fine. My note on the box from the middle of May, “pattern?”. Now, no more eggs, there’s still plenty of capped brood left, no Q cells, she’s there looking healthy. Very odd.
    Rod - a widely held view is that the queen is autonomous and decides for herself if and when to lay. Not sure I totally agree with that ...

    Another view is that the queen is only as good as the colony she 'heads', and that in turn that colony is only as good as the queen - effectively, they stimulate one another.

    Two years ago I had a Carnie colony which should have 'exploded' in early Spring - but didn't. So with this 'mutual stimulation' idea in mind, I swapped box positions with a mongrel hive which was already making good progress, so that hopefully a bunch of dynamic foragers might get that queen working - which is exactly what then happened. Could have been a coincidence of course, but if all else fails a box-position swap might be worth trying before you condemn that queen ?
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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