Workers Moving Eggs in Queenless Divided Hive?
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  1. #1

    Default Workers Moving Eggs in Queenless Divided Hive?

    So I was truly puzzled yesterday when I found one of my 3-frame nucs in a divided 10-frame box had a queen cell with jelly and a 1-2 day old larva in it. Allow me to explain the reason for my surprise: I created the 3-way box and place 1 frame of mostly capped brood and nurse bees, one frame of stores, and a frame of foundation in each. I though I had enough capped queen cells, but ended up 1 short, so the middle chamber sat queenless. On 2 July I went through the box and found my 2 virgin queens on the left and right sides, but nothing new in the middle. I had to travel for the weekend, but checked on 10 July and found 1 mated queen laying up a storm in the right partition, and the left queen probably hadn't made it back through the gauntlet of swallows that patrol my yard in the evenings; I also found a half dozen capped queen cells in the middle partition. 12 July found a new 1-2 day old virgin queen in the middle partition and a still queenless left partition (should have moved one of the queen cells from the middle partition, I know). Due to factors and lots of lame excuses, I managed to decapitate the new virigin queen. Well, on 15 July, I went and bought a few queens for the 2 queenless partitions and a couple other splits I needed to make, and when going into the middle partition on 16 July, I found 2 queen cells with jelly and one with a noticeable little "C" perched on top. Yesterday was overcast, 92 degrees with 90% humidity, so I was too sweaty to be sure, but I could swear I saw a small section of comb with a single egg in each below the queen cells. I have NO idea where these bees got eggs from. I spent a good 20 minutes going over each of the 3 frames, looking for a queen and another 5 minutes scouring the box- nothing... Now I've had that right partition with a queen for a couple of weeks, is it possible/plausible that workers are getting into the queen-right side and moving eggs to the middle? It doesn't make sense to me, but I'm really at a loss for a better explanation. My only other theory is that 2 queens hatched in the middle, but I managed to kill 1 before they could fight it out, the other went on a VERY fast mating flight, laid a few eggs and was out on another mating flight yesterday when I went through; however, why would they immediately start making new queens? Any other theories would be appreciated

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Houston, TX, USA

    Default Re: Workers Moving Eggs in Queenless Divided Hive?

    Here is a thread of interesting reading:

    The general consensus is that workers don't move eggs. So, ideas: it could be a drone larva in a queen cup or maybe your queen next door went for a walk about. In the latter case you'd probably find other eggs in worker cells. The former is much more likely in which case you'd also see a laying worker.

    You could have had another queen in there, but I don't think they go on mating flights after they have started laying. Someone with more scientific knowledge may correct me on this. But, my understanding is that it takes several days for the queen to adapt to laying and then she can neither fly well nor accept more drones.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA

    Default Re: Workers Moving Eggs in Queenless Divided Hive?

    In the early stages of laying workers they will attempt to raise a queen, of course the eggs are not fertile so this doesn't work. This is well documented since at least the late 1700s.
    Michael Bush "Everything works if you let it." 42y 40h 39yTF

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Salt Lake City, UT

    Default Re: Workers Moving Eggs in Queenless Divided Hive?

    When your left colony queen returned from mating is it possible that she returned to the middle chamber? Are you sure it is impossible for a queen to move between right and middle chambers? Can she get over the tops of frames, under the divider, or through the frame rest rabbet?
    Zone 6B

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Butler Co, Missouri, USA

    Default Re: Workers Moving Eggs in Queenless Divided Hive?

    How are the entrances situated? Any chance she moved out for a bit in the bearded front, and crawled into the wrong chamber? Then back?
    Hindsight is 20/10, not 20/20...
    After the fact, I always know what didn't work.


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