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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok. Unfortunately. It looks like I have a laying worker colony. It is an early swarm that moved into my bait hive. I believe it was an afterswarm as it had a virgin queen. Weather turned and she never became mated.

I added a frame of eggs and they started to make queen cells. It appears that none of those queens survived either.

Today. I did not see a queen. I did see lots of drone brood. I still have hope that there is a newly mated queen that is coming up to speed. So I will look in 7 days to make any final decisions.

I have a commercial queen coming 4/13. But I understand requeening a LW colony is tricky.

So here is my question.

If, 1 day prior to my queen arrival, I shake all the bees out 50’ from the hive. Return the comb to its stand.

The flying bees will go home and be queenless. Any non flying nurse bee will perish.

Can a laying worker also be a flying bee? Could one make it back to the hive?

I would then add a fresh frame of brood with the new mated queen in a push in cage the next day.

Reasonable course of action?
 

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Laying workers can fly as well an any other worker bee. It is usually a waste of time trying to save a LW colony, but if you try, it may be best to use 2 frames of open brood from another colony along with a frame of emerging brood. I would remove any frames that the LWs have used and have drone brood in them. Freeze them and return them when adding the queen and open brood.

With a delay until 4/13 for a queen, I would forget about trying to save the LW colony and use the new queen in a nuc. I would shake them out and be done with it.
 

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I recently helped a friend in this situation.

Set up a Nuc beside the LW Hive and let the queen get established.

Once there were 3 frames of brood, moved the Nuc frames into a full size box. Then moved the LW hive several metres away, so that the foragers went back to the new hive.

Left them for a week or so and then shook out the LW Hive. If the Laying Worker flys to the new hive, she will not be accepted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I was hoping, wrongly is seems, that the LW in the colony would be nurse bees and have never gone out for orientation flights.

And that I could save the foragers. It sounds like there is a risk of a flying LW. Got it

So then. My plan will have to be. Inspect again in 7 days. Hoping there is a queen that was not fully functioning yesterday, and that everything looks better.

If it is still all drone. Prepare to abandon ship. It was a trapped swarm. So there is no great loss. I’ll be able to salvage resources.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok. After rereading Matt’s reply. I need to reword my thoughts.

Instead of “Can a LW fly”.

I should be asking. Can a forager in a LW colony also be a LW?

I am hoping I can at least salvage some foragers along with the hive resources.

And could I accomplish that using Matt’s technique. But ending by moving a new established 10 frame box onto the stand. And placing the LW box ontop of a Snelgrove board. To recover foragers for a few days.

Then shake out remaining bees far away

Then freeze all remaining resources.
 

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It seems it was (at least in the past) often considered that the laying workers were not oriented to the hives and could be eliminated by removing the hive several hundred yards and shaking all the bees out; the lw's would not make their way back. That apparently does not work.

Is it the non oriented young bee that starts laying or is it the older forager. Or can it be either? I think that usually a colony has to be several weeks or more without brood before laying workers really get going so it is my guess that they are older workers.

What is the scoop?
 

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Originally the reason for the shake-out at a distance was the belief that when workers ovaries developed they were like queens and too heavy to fly.

The average age at which a honey bee does it's first flight is 6 days. It is to take a dump and do a limited orientation flight around the colony. Any bee older than 6 days would know where home is. My opinion is that laying workers develop in the 14 to 21 day old house bees. The ones I have seen laying did not appear to be very young, nor very old bees.
 

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If the colony has been laying worker for a while the average age of the bees will be getting near their expiry date which strongly devalues them contrary to their apparent numbers. The risk with allowing them to enter back into a colony with a laying queen is that they may kill that queen. They think they are queen right! I think there are usually multiple laying workers in a LW colony.

If you are making your own queens it might be worth a try but if you were risking a 40 or 50 dollar purchased queen I dont think the risk/benefit calculation would give it thumbs up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes. Crofter. That is the way I am leaning. My commercial queen is not available for 3 weeks still. By then. By then. It’ll probably be losing it head of steam.

I’ll check next week. If there is no capped worker brood by then. I’ll start to dismantle them.

I have already given them 2 frames of brood. One eggs and one capped. I only have one good hive. I am not going to jeopardize its strength to maybe save this LW swarm.
 

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Laying Workers lay 20-40 eggs, (sometimes as many as 80), then return to the work force.

I too have wasted a lot of time and brood resources requeening Laying worker hives. In the Spring of the year, I would shake the bees out near another hive, or hives, and remove the equipment from the former location. When you have another queen, take the brood resources you need from a donor hive(s) and start a NUC. You, and the NUC, will be better off in the long run. JMO :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I am Small time here. Only one hive that I started from a swarm last June. It’s doing really great. But I am unwilling to do anything that may jeopardize it. So I’m not going to risk a combine.

I have dismantled and removed the equipment.

I have 3 medium frames that are mixed with honey/pollen and drone brood. Both open and capped.

Can I just put those frames on top of my good hive for clean up. I have read yes an no.

Or should they be power washed and waste the honey/ pollen.
 

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...Can I just put those frames on top of my good hive for clean up...Or should they be power washed and waste the honey/ pollen.
As long as you don't have any brood health issues, obvious moth or small hive beetle infestations, you are good putting them on another hive.

Freezing will kill SHB & moth larvae (and the drone brood too). As a precaution, you could freeze those frames for a couple days and then put them on another hive, or, keep them frozen and add them to a swarm you catch later in the year. Honey will be usable immediately, the drone brood will need to be cleaned out, some of it would be recycled into new larvae and some of it ejected from the hive. Ordinarily, I wouldn't put drone brood on another hive, because raising drones would divert resources away from worker brood. Workers make honey, drones eat honey. JMO HTH :)
 

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University of Guelph added a video on dealing with laying worker colonies a couple weeks ago. It provides a lot of information on the subject, with a worked example.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycKdlYzrcOE

I was surprised to see that Paul feels that laying workers cannot fly well (or not oriented); only recommends shaking out 25 or so feet away from the colony you are expecting the bees to return to.
 

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In the past I've shaken-out LW colonies (from queenless starter-finisher snafus) maybe 15-20 ft away into the long grass, re-stocked the hive and just carried on, with zero subsequent problems.

The last couple of times I've dumped them directly in front of a strong hive in order not to waste the nurse bees, on the basis that any Laying Worker will smell like a queen (isn't that one of the basic problems with them being accepted as a 'queen' ?) and so will be refused entry. Apart from some token fighting, again zero problems ... thus far (touch wood).
LJ
 

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I did a LW shakeout last year. Took them about 70 yards away. Shook out every frame one by one into the grass. Took the equipment back and set it up. Lots of bees beat me back. I had a caged queen I purchased and a few frames of eggs awaiting the equipment. This worked well.
 
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