Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter
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  1. #1
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    Jan 2015
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    Default Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    I had some pretty significant losses due to animal attacks in outyards in Fall and a few weeks ago or I wouldn't even be giving this a second thought.

    All of my overwintered hives are coming along nicely except for one. It is a carni queen that hasn't started laying yet at all that I can see. The cluster keeps dwindling every time I check on them but not an egg, larvae, or spot of capped brood anywhere. I see her running around on the frames and she doesn't appear injured. Lots of food & pollen available as well. If I didn't need this hive to get going I would just pinch her now and will when I can make a queen.

    But, it's too early for drones so I can't make a queen. I am thinking about putting this colony on top of another that is doing well with a double screen between. Would that possibly get her laying? Strangely, it doesn't seem that any of the workers are laying either.

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  3. #2
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    Mar 2015
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    Decorah, Iowa USA
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    If the Queen is not laying anywhere in the hive and you don't have a frame of eggs and young brood in the hive then they can't make another queen. I wouldn't pinch the queen until you had a frame of eggs and young brood or a queen cell or a queen to put into the hive. As long as the non-laying queen is in there at least they won't make a laying worker.
    Jerry

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    It is not brood that suppresses LW in the winter. Brood might kick her off laying, it seems to with an introduced queen that is slow or with a newly mated queen.

    Flow started?
    It is hard to design a safety net that some will not use as a hammock.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    I expect there isn’t anything I could suggest that you haven’t already considered.
    Having said that, it is pretty rare, in my experience, for a colony to come out of winter with an apparently healthy queen that has failed. Mostly I find them totally queenless. I don’t worry about laying workers in that case. I believe that laying workers are typically young bees. As your hive doesn’t have any young bees, I don’t think it is likely to go lw.
    Good luck.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    "laying workers are typically young bees."

    Interesting, never thought about that.
    It is hard to design a safety net that some will not use as a hammock.

  7. #6
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    No flow yet, we are about 2-3 weeks away from Apples. This colony is just dwindling fast with no brood while the others around it are building quickly.

    I refuse to rob a good hive to nurse a dink. She should and will get pinched once I see drones unless she goes into a laying frenzy. In the meantime i am going to try the double screen thing tonight.

    I'm not really worried about LW as much as I'm worried about losing a colony. Raccoons and bears really laid a hurting on me. I am just trying to make it to splitting/grafting season.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    What have you got now? A queen you have no faith in and some bees of limited value.

    A small cluster of brood with no attached bees or sugar syrup would be worth a try to me but you are the one looking at them.

    If the decision is made then inch her and shake them out, store the frames on top. It is already a dead hive.
    It is hard to design a safety net that some will not use as a hammock.

  9. #8
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    Apr 2016
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    Was this queen heading a hive that got attacked? Last spring I had a bear attack and the queens survived, but did shut down for a couple weeks. This may be the issue but if she hasn't started by now, she probably won't. Would be interested to hear opinions why they shut down if not physically injured. Do queens get "upset" for an extended period? We do know that they "faint". Just curious. J

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Clinton, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve in PA View Post
    No flow yet, we are about 2-3 weeks away from Apples. This colony is just dwindling fast with no brood while the others around it are building quickly.

    I refuse to rob a good hive to nurse a dink. She should and will get pinched once I see drones unless she goes into a laying frenzy. In the meantime i am going to try the double screen thing tonight.

    I'm not really worried about LW as much as I'm worried about losing a colony. Raccoons and bears really laid a hurting on me. I am just trying to make it to splitting/grafting season.

    a queen not laying coming out of winter is one of the more common issues i've been seeing in the last decade for sure. going thru the note books accumulated by family over the decades i simply dont see any particular mention of it either. not saying that it didnt happen in prior times, maybe we just didnt write it down or werent as observant but i tend to suspect its a broader environmental thing. its probably number one on the hit list of winter losses in last 5 years. i see two versions of it---one with the queen laying but failing rapidly while the other is with queen not laying at all. the latter seems to correspond with what you are seeing when they dwindle down below a certain threshold it seems to be all over. i'm not sure if you could salvage her long enough to get to decent weather by taking resources from a better hive as i've never attempted figuring those were really mite susceptible colonies not worth my time. how strong are you better colonies? if really strong it might be worth seeing if you can string her along until queen time but all you likely get is a couple extra frames of brood that she might provide once laying. if others are not really strong, it might be more of detriment to them compared to what you have to gain by attempting to see if she lays

  11. #10
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    Default

    Yes she was. I had not thought of the attack shutting her down. It was 2 weeks ago so that is a possibility.

    Just looking to keep the cluster going until I see drones. If she won't lay but is preventing LW that will work in the short term.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    I expect there isn’t anything I could suggest that you haven’t already considered.
    Having said that, it is pretty rare, in my experience, for a colony to come out of winter with an apparently healthy queen that has failed. Mostly I find them totally queenless. I don’t worry about laying workers in that case. I believe that laying workers are typically young bees. As your hive doesn’t have any young bees, I don’t think it is likely to go lw.
    Good luck.
    Dan can you explain what convinces you LW would typically be young bees? I have posted quite a few times about a laying worker colony being worthless because they would be, typically, aged bees. It would not be the first time I was wrong. In cold climates, in springtime , that would seem to be ruled out.
    Frank

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    A laying worker can't be less than 14 to 21 days old since it is that long after all brood has emerged when the colony shows the many eggs per cell.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    I've had queens come out of winter apparently healthy, and the colony goes LW, with her still there. Probably not worth the effort, just shake them out and pinch her.
    So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  15. #14

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    Dan can you explain what convinces you LW would typically be young bees?
    I believe that I remember who told me that…during a lecture and someone knowledgeable..... but I am not certain enough to name them as I could be mistaken. If I get a chance I may try to dredge up some old notes. Having said that, every year I have some hives that come out of winter queenless and broodless and no matter how long I leave them they don’t develop laying workers. So…my experience fits.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  16. #15

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    A laying worker can't be less than 14 to 21 days old since it is that long after all brood has emerged when the colony shows the many eggs per cell.
    Not necessarily. If the last bees to emerge become laying workers then they might only be a couple of days old.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  17. #16

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    Another ‘old school’ method for correcting a laying worker colony included shaking all of the bees out.
    One of the claimed theories was that the laying workers would not be able to find their way back to the nest. This, again, suggests that the laying workers had started laying shortly after they emerged. I have no idea of the merit but back in the days when I attempted to fix laying worker colonies…this was part of my process.
    Any longer….I don’t even try to fix them. I shake them out in the yard and give their comb to another hive.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    What is young? It does appear to be true that a hive can refuse to raise a queen and still not go LWs. Maybe the cutoff is middle aged. As young as they feel.
    Still an interesting observation that has a lot of validity.

    I am not an anti-shake, just observe the situation. The majority of the flyers are going to go pretty close to the original hive. If that hive is on the end and next to a weak hive it is not the same risk as the middle hive in a strong row. A difference a rookie is not going to offer in their post. Not going to offer "I have two hives, a big one and a little one, I'm just going to shake the big one out."
    It is hard to design a safety net that some will not use as a hammock.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    Dan, I see your logic; my understanding is that it is the absence of the substance given off by a laying queen that prevents the development of laying workers. (As an aside I wonder if a drone laying queen would also prevent LW development). In the scenario you suggest the queen could have stopped laying 3 weeks previous to a worker bees emergence.

    Saltybees conjecture is interesting possibility to explain lack of LW development. Drone laying queen with no LW development would be another unusual circumstance but perhaps explainable.

    This is something that has not been widely discussed or common knowledge.

    Thanks.
    Frank

  20. #19

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    Dan, I see your logic; my understanding is that it is the absence of the substance given off by a laying queen that prevents the development of laying workers.
    Actually, unless I'm mistaken it is brood pheromones that suppress the development of worker ovarian development.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Queen Not Laying Coming Out of Winter

    But that is not the whole story or northern beekeepers would come out of winter with a pile of LW hives.

    There was an earlier post about a chemical in pollen or royal jelly that also suppressed LWs. It may be that brood itself is just the visible link and not the direct prevention. Memory escapes on the link.
    Last edited by Saltybee; 04-02-2020 at 12:03 PM. Reason: Added
    It is hard to design a safety net that some will not use as a hammock.

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