Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!
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  1. #1
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    Default Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    So, I split my three hives about 5 weeks ago. We noticed signs of possible impending swarms in two of them and we had all the right conditions and stores. We went in and checked about 2 weeks into the split and found 5+ queen cells in each split hive, so things were looking real good. Over the next 3 weeks the weather was spotty, but the splits were booming with activity.

    Yesterday we went in to look for and mark queens and found very active queens in two hives.

    However, in one hive we started seeing eggs.......at first it was a couple in the cells..... then three or four.....and then OMG!!!!

    IMG_0724.jpg

    IMG_0732.jpg

    IMG_0734.jpg

    You can imagine my disappointment in seeing these cells, but also the amazement of how many eggs these crazy bees were putting in there!!
    Now, because this is a strong hive with a good amount of bees, we are going to try to salvage the colony. I've read a few things about the laying worker issue, and a lot make the argument that it's easier to just combine with another hive via newspaper or to just shake them out and let them fend for themselves. I would rather not do that. We've done a bit of reading from different sources and have come up with a few ideas and would appreciate any constructive thoughts.

    So, the plan is to introduce a frame of open brood (emphasis on larvae) about every 5 days or so until I see queen cells. At that point, let the girls do their thing and get a queen.

    There was something I read in a couple places that if I switch places with another hive in my apairy, without trying to get them to reorient, the returning foragers will go in and realize there's a problem due to the lack of queen pheromone, and within 48 hours(or so) kill the laying workers. I have no idea if that's true or not......but it would be nice if it is....

    Now, if the introduction of brood after a months time (guessing on time frame...????) doesn't take, then I would combine via newspaper.

    If y'all have any other ideas, or thoughts on how to remedy this issue, I'd appreciate the constructive input. Thanks!!!
    Last edited by BFD45; 06-16-2019 at 07:45 AM.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    You might have to cull some drone brood. Capped can be scratched and open cells can be laid flat and dusted with flour or salt. Cleaning up may give the workers something to do besides lay more eggs!
    Frank

  4. #3
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    Pleasant Valley, NY
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    I have found it to be a waste of valuable resources to keep putting frames of eggs into a laying worker
    hive. I used to try to save, but found it to deplete good hives. Combining with newspaper may lead to the
    laying workers trying to kill a good queen. IMO.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tweeter View Post
    I have found it to be a waste of valuable resources to keep putting frames of eggs into a laying worker
    hive. I used to try to save, but found it to deplete good hives. Combining with newspaper may lead to the
    laying workers trying to kill a good queen. IMO.
    I agree about it not being practical but maybe could be entertaining. I have fed in frames of brood temporarily to a colony that lost a queen in order to keep it from going laying worker until a queen was available or till drones were flying. but would not bother nursing a profoundly LW colony.
    Frank

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Don't be to quick to judge.Here is a picture of a one year old Q in 2017 just starting to expand the brood nest in early spring.She did fine once she settled down but was superceded 2 months later.
    Wait until first brood is capped to decide.My opinion is trying to rehabilitate a drone laying colony is usually an exercise in frustration and a waste of resources.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #6
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    I split my three hives about 5 weeks ago.
    about 2 weeks into the split and found 5+ queen cells in each split hive.

    That is a lot of "abouts".

    Those eggs are nailed to the bottom and nectar filled combs. I'm not convinced of the age ( no offense intended).

    Stick an empty comb or undrwn comb in there and see what happens.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Grimshaw View Post
    Don't be to quick to judge.Here is a picture of a one year old Q in 2017 just starting to expand the brood nest in early spring.She did fine once she settled down but was superceded 2 months later.
    Wait until first brood is capped to decide.My opinion is trying to rehabilitate a drone laying colony is usually an exercise in frustration and a waste of resources.
    Hi Jack, was that queen in the photo laying eggs like that? Once we saw the multiple eggs we pretty much gave up on finding the queen. I think Iím going back in and do a more thorough search for her highness.

    I agree that trying to fix it is probably a effort in futility, so we may just shake and hope. Weíll wait to see anything capped to be sure.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    I split my three hives about 5 weeks ago.
    about 2 weeks into the split and found 5+ queen cells in each split hive.

    That is a lot of "abouts".

    Those eggs are nailed to the bottom and nectar filled combs. I'm not convinced of the age ( no offense intended).

    Stick an empty comb or undrwn comb in there and see what happens.
    Thanks for your constructive input. To clear up any of the “abouts” for you. May 12 we did the split, and May 26 (2 weeks after) we looked and saw queen cells. Yesterday (June 15, a day shy of 5 weeks)) we found the conditions mentioned above.

    What would you think drawn comb would tell us?

    Thanks
    Last edited by BFD45; 06-16-2019 at 12:34 PM.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Dates help. These splits with open/closed swarm cells or brood? Not convinced one way or the other on young queen or LW. On the edge of both timelines. Does she have any open comb to lay of is she being forced to lay in the outside edges because that;s all she (or they) have available?
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    I got into the hive this late morning and was able to really take my time and examine the frames. I didn't find a queen (wasn't really expecting to, but looked anyway), almost all the cells that didn't have nectar/pollen had multiple eggs in them, no matter the position on the frame. I'm not seeing much in the way of larvae, and no capped brood. I would of expected to possible see spotty, humped drone brood, but nothing. Just all those damned eggs. We're going to give it a few days and see what's what and formulate a plan. We'll see...

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    I would do like Jack says.Put in an empty comb and see how the laying goes.You have a brood nest in that frame that is pretty well honey and pollen bound and no room to lay in.A really active queen will lay where she can and if no room she could lay in the same cells.All eggs are on the bottom and not the sides like short workers do.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Quote Originally Posted by snapper1d View Post
    I would do like Jack says.Put in an empty comb and see how the laying goes.You have a brood nest in that frame that is pretty well honey and pollen bound and no room to lay in.A really active queen will lay where she can and if no room she could lay in the same cells.All eggs are on the bottom and not the sides like short workers do.
    Thanks Snapper1d

    I went back and read my last post and I forgot to mention that I did just that. I added 2 frames of drawn comb with nothing else on it to see what she/they're doing. I plan on checking those frames in two days and we'll see what is done to them. I had a laying worker colony last year from a failed split that was combined via newspaper. The amount of eggs in the cells this time were just incredible compared to the last one I saw.

    I have a second brood box (8 frame) on top with 3 frames of drawn comb and the rest foundation. We added the second box 2 weeks into the split because there was a lot of bees, and I wanted them to have plenty of room. They have drawn out some, but not as much as I expected.

    With that being said, if there is a queen that's laying like this, why wouldn't the workers just draw out the comb for her to lay? They had plenty of stores going into the split ,plus they were fed, there's a good nectar flow right now (judging from my other hives), so I would guess they would be able to draw what they needed. I don't know....... I feel like I'm rambling....

    I'll reevaluate on Wednesday...

  14. #13
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    Default

    If you have any colonies that are going to swarm a queenless colony can be a good source to swap brood frames out of and back to get some laid frames. I would shake out the whole colony and then combine it with newspaper with a laying queen. That will give them a reset to accept a new queen. I did everything last season to avoid the shake out. Gave multiple queen cells and even a laying queen. Swapping in brood frames. Huge population and I messed with it for like 6 weeks. Finally shook them out in tall grass. 95% flew back and they took a queen right after...

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Imo there is only 1 way to attempt to handle a lw colony. Put it on top of a queen right colony using a snelgroove board or something similar. After a couple weeks there should be no more laying and the screened board can be removed. Trying to have a colony that went lw raise a new queen after you hopefully get them stopped by putting in brood is useless. The bees will all be too old and spent to you a good queen. But combined with another colony using the method I said adds them as foraging force to the queen right colony. It's the best way to use what life they have left imo. Best of luck

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Thanks for the all the great input! I really appreciate yíall taking the time to respond.

    So, I think we have a plan.. Itís fluid, but we have an idea of the direction we want to go. In doing online research and talking to some local beeks, I feel we have a lot of opinions and options. So, with that being said hereís the plan we formulated.

    I replaced two frames with drawn comb to see if there was a possibility of this being a immature queen that has either run out of space, or if it is indeed a laying worker colony. It seems like the timeline being is close to either one. Iím planning on going back in to look at those frames (I placed them right in the middle) to see what kind of laying pattern is being done. Iíll post pictures of what I find and Iíd be happy to hear what yíall think.

    Now, if itís determined that thereís a queen, then easy peesy, leave it alone and make sure she has enough space to lay. If it is a LWC, then we have a plan to make it a queen right colony. Thereís a video on YouTube, this fellow named Jason Chrisman posted regarding a LWC and how he fixed it. He had done it once before the video was shot with success.

    Hereís the link https://youtu.be/8i_2ZW75b4Y

    When reading the comment section, other people had success also, but like anything it could go either way.
    Now, if that doesnít work for us, then we will probably shake out in front of our other hives or combine via newspaper.

    Some people may think that this is an exercise in futility, and while I wouldnít disagree with them, I would make the argument that nothing beats a failure but a good, honest try. We donít have a lot of hives (5 total) so I guess we are probably a bit emotionally motivated to fix it. Whatever the case is, I feel the journey will hopefully make us better beeks in the long run.

    Iíll post when I have more info to share.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Quote Originally Posted by BFD45 View Post
    Hi Jack, was that queen in the photo laying eggs like that? Once we saw the multiple eggs we pretty much gave up on finding the queen. I think Iím going back in and do a more thorough search for her highness.
    Yes,but have to admit the photo was staged.I moved the Q up to the eggs with my finger away from the miniscule cluster
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  18. #17
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Grimshaw View Post
    Yes,but have to admit the photo was staged.I moved the Q up to the eggs with my finger away from the miniscule cluster
    I got to admit that I was a bit surprised to see that. I had never heard of , or seen a queen laying like that before. I really just assumed that I have a laying worker, but some doubt has been cast. I've got a couple drawn frames that I put in yesterday that I'm going to check. I'm wondering if this could be a case of a "honey bound" queen???? IDK...

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Worth a short shot.

    Photos are only like looking at an elephant through a straw. View leaves out more than it shows.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    Worth a short shot.

    Photos are only like looking at an elephant through a straw. View leaves out more than it shows.
    Ok.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Holy Laying Worker, Batman!!

    The friggin drama continues...

    I went in late morning to the hive to check the frames of drawn comb only I put in the other day. As I expected, all the cells were full with multiple eggs. I still did my due diligence and looked for a queen. Nope. They are bringing in pollen and nectar and there were a couple areas that honey had been recently capped with that nice, white wax. I did not see any capped brood or larvae. Just cels with multiple eggs. We think we’re going to go ahead with the re queening plan laid out by Jason Chrisman. Looks like Friday will be the day, I’ll post results.

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