Is this unusual?
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  1. #1
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    Default Is this unusual?

    I pulled some honey supers yesterday (with queen excluder under them) and found one box with scattered drone brood and cells with multiple eggs that appear to be the work of laying workers. I did not check what was going on in the lower brood boxes. Should I expect to find a queen less colony there or is it possible for laying workers to lay in supers while a queen is below?

    It's the first time I've seen this........
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    Last edited by Tim KS; 07-25-2019 at 09:05 AM.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Is this unusual?

    I have wondered whether a super that is sitting 3 or 4 boxes above the excluder could become so isolated from the QMP that workers could resort to laying. Do you happen to remember whether the super you found with laying workers was located near the brood nest or several boxes above the brood nest? Also, do the foragers have a top entrance or other entrance that they do not have to go through the brood nest to get to the upper supers?

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Is this unusual?

    They do have a top entrance (I didn't think about that), and they are only two mediums above the excluder. It was a distant yard and I'm kicking myself for not looking at what was happening in the brood boxes. How often do queens go exploring outside the bottom box to check on upper entrances.....and why just drone brood then???? The pix are definitely laying worker.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Is this unusual?

    My guess is that one of two things happened:

    The most likely is that you are queenless.

    The long-shot possibility is, that a large number of workers are orienting to the upper entrance and never coming into sufficient contact with the queen pheromones that repress egg development in workers.

    It can happen within the same box, provided that separation of workers from queen is established. In the Demaree Method of swarm control, you basically establish the same thing, but you add open brood/eggs to the upper chambers so they can raise a proper queen. In both cases, it is the lack of QMP that compels the workers to either raise a new queen with what they have (Demaree), or make their own eggs (laying worker).

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Is this unusual?

    I'm betting on queenless, but IF there happens to be a queen below, I'll have only deep frames with eggs to make a queen in the upper mediums.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Is this unusual?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim KS View Post
    I'm betting on queenless, but IF there happens to be a queen below, I'll have only deep frames with eggs to make a queen in the upper mediums.
    Are you planning on looking in the brood box? I'm subscribing to learn from this. Good luck!

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Is this unusual?

    Quote Originally Posted by BumblingBeek View Post
    Are you planning on looking in the brood box? I'm subscribing to learn from this. Good luck!
    Yep, I'm planning to check the brood boxes the next time I check them. It's my first year at this location and it has limited access because of a locked gate. It's a bit further than I want to walk in to, so I'll wait until the gate gets opened in a few days. I'll post back what I find as soon as the owner is back from a short vacation.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Is this unusual?

    Quote Originally Posted by psm1212 View Post
    I have wondered whether a super that is sitting 3 or 4 boxes above the excluder could become so isolated from the QMP that workers could resort to laying.
    Yes that can happen, but it's rare, and for whatever reason usually only happens after some brood has been left high in the hive, and almost unknown where there has never been any brood.

    But in this case the sheer amount of eggs indicate a full blown LW hive, queen excluders are no problem for LW'ers so there will be LW eggs above and below the excluder.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Is this unusual?

    BTW, I took those pics with my I-phone and a app called MagLight. It comes in real handy for those of us who don't see as good as we used to.

    The camera lens on the phone has a zoom & and an adjustable light around it so it lights up down into the cells......takes great pics.
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  11. #10
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    Default Re: Is this unusual?

    Welp, I checked into the suspect hive today and looked around. Looked for a queen, but no joy, but then I'm a poor queen finder. Found 5 empty queen cells that appeared to have hatched. With my poor queen finding ability, I'm not sure what's going on just yet.

    I loaded the hive up and brought it home where it'll be easier to keep an eye on. I didn't see any eggs, multiple or single, but I did see some scattered young larva......not sure if it'll be capped worker or drone. I pulled one frame with open brood & eggs from a donor hive and added it to see what happens. I also added a feeder because they were low on stores. In a week their fate will be determined.

    Comments or suggestion?

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