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Does anyone know of a way to differentiate between the brood pattern of a highly hygienic colony and that of a queen who lays poorly. I am mostly interested in visual differences as opposed to liquid nitrogen freezing.
 

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on the hygienic Bees if you look at the sealed brood you will find some brood that they are in the process of pulling out there usually some of the pupa still in the comb.
 

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Look at the unsealed brood. Does that look like it will lead to a good sealed pattern. Are there larvae in all the cells? Do adjoing cells have similarly aged larvae or are they of various ages all over the place...egg, empty, old larva, young larva capped...all placed seemingly at random.
 

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you could also test them. To do this choose an area and a pattern, (3 rows of 3 cells) of sealed brood, poke into these with a pin to kill the larve/pupa. Close up hive and check the frame the next day, Hygenic bees will know they are bad and clean them out.
 

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So does this all mean that when I see an occational empty cell in an otherwise solid frame of sealed brood, it is a good thing? I have seen frames with a solid rectangle of sealed brood except may be a dozen random empty cells, I was just glad to see the solid rectangle and added another deep.
 

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With Hygienic strains, I like to look at the pattern of eggs more so than brood. If the eggs are all placed together in good patterns, and they don't turn into random drones, then it's usually fine.
 

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So does this all mean that when I see an occational empty cell in an otherwise solid frame of sealed brood, it is a good thing? I have seen frames with a solid rectangle of sealed brood except may be a dozen random empty cells, I was just glad to see the solid rectangle and added another deep.
Probably not Hygienic behavior there (although maybe). Even un-hygienic queens will miss a cell every now and then. If there are a few hundred on a frame (I don't know, never counted them), the queen is bound to miss at least one of them. Or maybe when she was laying there, the cell wasn't cleaned out or something.

I've seen that with Italians and Russians.
 
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