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It was a pretty day finally in East Tennessee today and I have lots of questions after coming in from the bee yard.

Is it okay to use the old comb from a laying worker hive in another hive? Will the queen lay more drone brood than she normally would? Are the laying worker cells enlarged so that the Queen will only lay drones in those cells or are they still normal worker size? o is it best to get rid of laying worker comb?

I have a hive that I don't know what I was seeing or what to do. The hive was a large production hive. 3 1/2 weeks ago the hive had a small virgin Queen and was completely broodless. I inspected the hive today. It seemed like a strong hive with a lot of bees. However the brood was probably 1/2 capped worker brood and 1/2 capped drone brood. So I began wondering if I put a lot of old laying worker comb in this hive last year. But the drone brood was pretty much everywhere along with a few large patches of worker brood. So then I started thinking that this was just a poorly mated Queen, but I never found her. But the hive was crowded and i could have missed her and she might be small. Then I started wondering if the queen could have started out laying worker brood and something happened to her and she died and it is now a drone laying hive. I saw a Queen cup with 3 eggs in it and just a few other cells with 2 or even 3 eggs. Then I thought maybe the Queen started laying drone brood and got mated successfully and now she is able to lay worker brood. Or again maybe she is just poorly mated and laying both workers and drones.

What do you think is going on? And what do I do about it. If it has a queen in it I can't try to combine it with another hive. I mistakenly combined a drone laying queen hive and a Queen right hive last year and the drone laying Queen won. I finally found her. I have tried several different techniques for laying worker hives but this year I have been newspaper combining them with Queenright hives. Has anyone had any good outcomes with that technique? I have tried in the past adding open brood to the hive 1x per week until they convert but that is too labor intensive. I have dumped a laying worker hive a large distance and let the field bees fly back and requeened the hive. But then you have a ball of bees that have no where to go. So if you dump a hive of laying workers right in front of the other hives then will the bees be invited into other hives? If it is a poorly mated queen and I dump in front of the other hives could she find her way into one of my queenless hives, as I have several splits in the bee yard, and take over.

Also I took a failing queen out of a hive today and she got out of the queen catcher and I lost her. Could she find her way into one of my queenless splits? I took the original hive elsewhere to combine it with another hive.

Thanks in advance for your help!
 

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Using comb that laying workers have used should not be a problem unless you can see that cell is physically enlarged. The queen actually measures the diameter of the cell before laying and the size is what makes her lay a drone or a worker egg (if she is healthy and properly mated, etc.)

Half worker and half drone is not good. Get rid of that queen. At absolute most, you should see no more than 20% drone brood and you would only ever see that in a foundation-less hive the bees built from scratch. Once a queen starts laying, she never mates again. It sounds like she was poorly mated, like she got some sperm, and maybe laid okay for a few days, and then ran out and started laying drone brood. This may especially be the case if you are having trouble finding her. Badly mated queens tend to still be virgin sized (though not always).

What I would do in this situation is I would kill those bad queens outright. If you can't find her (and I know it is difficult) shake the bees through a box with a queen excluder to see if you can find her out near your strongest hives. If you find her, kill her. Otherwise just let the bees redistribute themselves to other hives. If the queen tries to fly into another hive, they will kill her, same with laying workers. Get rid of the bad hive (shake out all the bees and take the woodenware away) and let the workers redistribute themselves to your other queenright hives.

Having queenless splits around does complicate things. If you have an outyard (or know someone who does, contact your local bee club) somewhere a few miles away, you can move your splits there so a stray queen will not take up residence in it.
 

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So at what distance in front of my other hives do I want to shake out the hive with the poorly mated Queen? And also if I have a hive of laying workers at what distance to the other hives do I want to shake out the hive? So then will the field bees will be invited into my other hives? So you said that the laying worker bees be killed if they try to enter a hive. Will they try to enter hives or will they just hang around the bee yard for a long time?
 

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There is a good discussion on the general Bee Forum going on right now that you should read. Varying opinions so you will have to decide your best course. As for the queen, you should not dump her. Pinch her or put in alcohol to use in a swarm lure. I would keep her alive until you are sure a new queen has been accepted. J
 
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