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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I went through one of my hives today and I think I have a laying worker(s). I didn't spot a queen and all I could see was capped drone comb, and actually saw a couple drones crawling around. I also saw some larvae, but couldn't get a good look to see if any cells had multiple eggs in them.

I have noticed this hive bringing in pollen, which I read would be unlikely if the hive was queenless. I also read re-queening a hive with laying workers is tough because the laying workers will kill her for sure.

I will also mention that I only have one other hive that made it through winter, so I don't have multiple other hives to strengthen with these bees. I'd really like to set it right.

Any suggestions on what I should do next would be greatly appreciated!
 

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The first thing you have to know is do you have laying workers or a drone laying queen. The queen is an easy fix. Laying workers a little more difficult.

Both can be fixed by doing a shake out and split your other hive later in the season. This is the route I would probably go.
 

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Most all hives have laying workers. They become a problem when the hive has been broodless long enough that the nurse bees no longer police the brood nest, erasing their unwanted donations there.

As Wolfer mentioned, uncontrolled laying workers and drone laying or failing queens are similar issues, but with entirely different solutions.

Just so you know, there are many threads concerning these issues, with many and various solutions described. You might want to check out some of them, too.
 

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go back and look for any worker brood. if there is some includeing fresh small worker brood then bees will sort it out. if there is none you will need to find another good queen now. how to procede will depend on bad queen or no queen.
 

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>I have noticed this hive bringing in pollen, which I read would be unlikely if the hive was queenless.

Not at all. I've seen laying worker hives hauling pollen like crazy and clogging the entire brood nest with pollen.

> I also read re-queening a hive with laying workers is tough because the laying workers will kill her for sure.

Yes. Unless you turn them around first. Give them a frame of eggs and open brood every week for three weeks and they will raise a queen...

> I will also mention that I only have one other hive that made it through winter, so I don't have multiple other hives to strengthen with these bees. I'd really like to set it right.

A queen can lay far more eggs than the bees can raise. A frame of eggs swapped for a drawn comb won't set them back much.

> Any suggestions on what I should do next would be greatly appreciated!

http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
 

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I wouldn't assume too quickly that you have laying workers. Queens can hide sometimes. Until you see 3-4 eggs in a cell, I wouldn't worry too much. Some of my hives are producing drones like mad right now- even on top of regular comb. Keep an eye out for eggs on your next inspection or two, and as Michael said, if supply of eggs is drying up or if you see multiple eggs in a cell, then add a frame of brood and eggs from another hive.
 

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here is how i fix a hive with laying workers. ive tried all different ways, but the easiest for me and the quickest is to take the whole hive over 100 yards away from the hive location and shake all the bees on the ground. Then take the hive back to the original location put it back together as a single deep then put a screen on top of the hive. then set a good hive on top of that with a good queen that is pretty strong. I will give them an entrance out the the backside of the top brood box. After I keep them penned up in the the top box for a day or so. With ventilation. Then after about 3 days I will pull the screen out and turn them two boxes together. All the open brood pheramones will help with any laying workers that do make it back to the bottom box. Then you can resplit them if you want too later. But for me that is the way i do it. I dont have the time to mess with them adding frames of brood and all that every week until they raise a queen. every time ive tried that method they would usually not have enough young bees to feed the queen cell good enough to raise a decent queen. There are several ways to do it, but for me that is the quickest way and the easiest. most of the time when I do this method after the two hives are combined you will see drone brood laying all over out in front of the hive. out of the laying worker brood box. The bees will start pulling them drones out of the comb. Mine do that anyway i dont know if all bees would do it but mine do. But I only use this method if they have been queenless for a long time and have had laying workers for quiet awile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am still trying to correct this laying worker hive. Here's what I've done and what I've observed most recently:

I tried the method of adding a frame of open brood to the laying worker hive once a week for three weeks. After the last frame of open brood was put on the hive, I went on vacation for 2 weeks. When I got home I took a quick look in the hive, still saw capped drone comb and quickly assumed my attempt had failed. That was 10 days ago.

Today I took another look in the hive and found 2 open queen cells on one frame! I'm not sure if they hatched and are in the process of making mating flights, or if they died, but I didn't see a queen in the hive. I do still see capped drone comb and some larvae. The queen cells were small so I don't think they raised quality queens.

My questions are these -

Is it possible that I missed my window to re-queen this hive at the time the queen cells were being drawn out?

If the hive failed to successfully raise their own queen, is it likely that laying workers have taken back over, and if I try to introduce a queen, they will likely ball her?

Should I try to give them another frame of open brood to see if they try to draw another queen cell?

Thanks in advance for your help!
 

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Sounds like you, quite possibly, already have a virgin in residence. And, yes, I'd give them another frame of eggs and young larva - it will certainly help this colony continue making forward progress, then, when your new queen does get started, the colony will already have a head-start.
 

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>When I got home I took a quick look in the hive, still saw capped drone comb and quickly assumed my attempt had failed. That was 10 days ago.

Drone brood takes 24 days to mature and emerge so there will still be some capped drone brood three weeks after the last laying worker quits laying (or the egg police catch up).

>Today I took another look in the hive and found 2 open queen cells on one frame! I'm not sure if they hatched and are in the process of making mating flights, or if they died, but I didn't see a queen in the hive. I do still see capped drone comb and some larvae. The queen cells were small so I don't think they raised quality queens.

There are two possibilities at this point. They may be trying to raise a queen from eggs from a new queen. They also may be trying to raise queens from drone eggs.

http://www.bushfarms.com/huber.htm#maleeggsinroyalcells
 

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>There are two possibilities at this point. They may be trying to raise a queen from eggs from a new queen. They also may be trying to raise queens from drone eggs.

I have a similar situation where I put a frame of eggs into a queenless hive and when I checked back there were 2 capped queen cells and a laying worker. Will these queens survive or will they be killed?
 

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"I have ascertained through new observation, that bees recognize the larvae of drones, as well when the eggs producing them have been laid in royal cells, by queens whose fecundation has been retarded, as when they have been deposited in common cells.

"It has not been forgotten that the royal cells are shaped like a pear, the large end of which is at the top: or in the shape of an inverted pyramid, the axis of which is about vertical, and the length of 15 or 16 lines. It is known also that the queens lay in those cells when they are but outlined, when they fairly resemble the cup of an acorn.

"The bees give the same shape and dimensions, at first, to the cells which serve as cradles for males; but when their larvae are about to be transformed, it is easy to perceive that they have not taken them for royal works; for instead of closing their cells in pointed form, as they invariably do when containing the larvae of the latter sort, they widen them at the end, and after adding a cylindrical tube, they close them with a convex capping, differing in nothing from those which they are accustomed to put on the cells of males; but as this tube is of the same capacity as the hexagon cells of the smallest diameter, the larvae which the bees thus cause to descend into this part of the cell, and which are to undergo there their last metamorphosis, become drones of smaller size. The total length of these extraordinary cells is 20 to 22 lines (1 2/3 to 1 5/6 inches).

"Yet, the bees do not always add a cylinder to a pyramidal cell; they are then content with enlarging a little their lower part, and the larvae which make their growth there may become large drones. I am ignorant of the cause of the differences sometimes observed in the shape of these cells; but it appears very certain to me that the bees never are deceived in them, giving us in this occasion a great proof of the instinct with which they are endowed. Nature, which has intrusted the bees with the rearing of their young, and with the care of providing them with aliments proper to their age, or even to their sex, must have taught them how to recognize them. There is so little resemblance between adult males and workers, that some difference must also exist between the larvae of both kinds; doubtless the workers distinguish it, though it has escaped our notice."--Francis Huber, New Observations Upon Bees, Volume I, Twelfth Letter, footnote 17.
 

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nhoyt; queens lay according to the honey flow, weather, location , climate, hive conditions, and season. Italian type queens lay more evenly than Russian type queens, the rest vary between these. there can be a lot of variations between colonies also. not a simple answer here other than yes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It's been a little over a week since I last looked for a queen in my laying worker hive with no success. Perhaps she is still a virgin and hard to see as she is still small. At any rate, I decided to do the following:

I bought a mated queen and put her in the hive with another frame of open brood from a strong hive. My hope is that since the colony had built a couple queen cells a couple weeks back that maybe they would still be willing to accept a new queen.

I do still see some capped drone comb, and some open larvae. I could not see any eggs...not saying they weren't there...just couldn't see them in the dark comb.

I put the queen in yesterday, and today I went to put a top feeder on and the queen cage had a good size ball of bees on it. I looked close but couldn't tell if they were trying to bite at it or if they were accepting it. I plan to leave it until Wednesday and decide at that time if I am going to release her into the hive.

This brings me to two questions:

1) Is there some behavior I can look for before I release her into the hive that will tell me if they are going to accept her or ball her?

2) If it looks like they are not going to accept her, I was thinking it would be better to do a split from my strong hive and use the queen there since they would be more likely to accept her. If I do that, that would mean the queen would be in the cage for another 4-5 days. Can she live that long in a cage? If not, what other options do I have? I don't want to just release her into a laying worker hive and listen to her hiss while they ball her to death!

Thanks in advance for all the advice!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I hear what you're saying Michael, and I had plenty of doubt that this would actually work when I did it. :) But as much as I want to succeed, I also look at this as a learning experience. Sometimes that requires failing. I agree losing a good queen is not my goal...especially at $25. It isn't so much that I need this hive to survive because I need the extra hive, it's really just me trying to make a laying worker hive queen-right just so I know how to do it and learn more about bees. And maybe what I end up learning is that the results are too inconsistent to justify even attempting to make a laying worker queen-right and I just dump the bees like alot of people suggest....

Can they really kill her through the cage?
 

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Queens in cages, have the means to hide safely from attacks from outside the cage. Unfortunately if the external attack is from another queen, they will put themselves in harms way. Some curious instinct does not take into account that there is a cage present. The caged queen, in this instance, is always at a disadvantage, the queen outside the cage has no trouble avoiding attacks from the queen inside the cage. Sorta like the analogy of shooting fish in a barrel.
 
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