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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have had a lw hive that I tried to turn around with some unconventional methods. Nothing seemed to work, so I decided to give up on it. On Saturday, I was going to literally turn the hive around as suggested by jwcarlson, so the remaining workers would beg themselves into other hives.
Just as I was going to go out, one of my other hives started swarming. Turns out it was a practice swarm and I removed several frames containing QC from the swarmy hive. Having nowhere else to put them, I decided to put them in the lw hive. I have done this before and they have torn down the cells, so don't have much hope.
However, what surprised me is that when I opened the lw hive, there were only a few drones milling about. There were no more capped drone cells, and no more drone eggs. If the original qc I added " took", I would have capped worker brood by now.
So my question is what happened to the laying workers? Is it possible there were only a few and they died off? If so, why haven't others turned lw? J
 

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if odd behavior, i have never waited that long.
could have let to find other hives
could have had some issue and had shorter lifespans.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks GG. I forgot to add that there is still a fair amount of worker bees. This hive has been queenless since mid May! I tried requeening early on as I could not spare young brood. They killed her, so I tried capped QC. They tore them down. Only eggs and brood observed since May were drones. There used to be a large amount of drones, now a few.
I thought maybe the workers were from other hives, but zero signs of robbing and they have brought in a fair amount of nectar. I am stumped. Maybe there is a chance they will accept these queen cells. Hive has been a bewildering puzzlement all season, so maybe it will surprise me. I think I am missing some odd chain of events that would explain it all. J
 

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Thanks GG. I forgot to add that there is still a fair amount of worker bees. This hive has been queenless since mid May! I tried requeening early on as I could not spare young brood. They killed her, so I tried capped QC. They tore them down. Only eggs and brood observed since May were drones. There used to be a large amount of drones, now a few.
I thought maybe the workers were from other hives, but zero signs of robbing and they have brought in a fair amount of nectar. I am stumped. Maybe there is a chance they will accept these queen cells. Hive has been a bewildering puzzlement all season, so maybe it will surprise me. I think I am missing some odd chain of events that would explain it all. J
Have eggs started to appear? Are they small drones? Ive seen drones the size of workers. But with the big eyes.
 

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No eggs or larvae at all. There is a small patch of capped drone brood remaining. The rest hatched out. J
If there are no eggs then i would see if what appear to be workers are actually drones hatched from worker cells. And either way then just go with it. No eggs! Nothing is laying, they should accept anything. I have a video of a queen that looks like a worker. That hive was throwing me curve balls all summer. I cant believe i spotted this queen but by the Grace of God I did and finally remedied the problem. I will post a link.

 

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It is the pheromones from open brood that suppress the development of ovaries in laying workers. Since a serious laying worker hive has 50% laying workers or more I doubt they died off. But open brood may have suppressed them. Also you added some bees that were not laying workers and those may have been recruited to be egg police and removed the eggs. If they don't get some more open brood, though, they will just regress back to being laying workers. Are you sure there isn't a virgin queen who just isn't laying yet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Michael. I never added open brood to this lw hive. I know that is the way to go, but at the time my other hives had none to spare and I didn't want to weaken them. I did add 3 frames of bees that were on the frames of Queen cells, but I just did that on Saturday when I noticed all of this. The prior introduction of qc was on one frame which had no open brood. It did have some capped brood so I suppose that could explain why I still have more workers than I would expect. Thanks for the input. J
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Struttinbuck. Hard to say without more info from the vid, but that looks like a small, newly mated queen to me. J
 

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It is the pheromones from open brood that suppress the development of ovaries in laying workers. Since a serious laying worker hive has 50% laying workers or more I doubt they died off. But open brood may have suppressed them. Also you added some bees that were not laying workers and those may have been recruited to be egg police and removed the eggs. If they don't get some more open brood, though, they will just regress back to being laying workers. Are you sure there isn't a virgin queen who just isn't laying yet?
And thanks for the informative reply. I wasn't sure what triggered the laying workers.
 

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If you are concerned about taking eggs from another new package or small colony, keep in mind that bees have little invested in eggs and the queen can lay far more eggs than a small colony can warm, feed and raise. Taking a frame of eggs from a small struggling new hive and swapping it for an empty comb or any drawn comb will have little impact on the donor colony and may save the recipient if they are indeed queenless. If the recipient didn't need a queen it will fill in the gap while the new queen gets mated and not interfere with things.
 

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Laying worker colonies do weird stuff. I've also seen them "stop" laying seemingly, but then will start back up. I wouldn't read too much into it, honestly.
Dropping in some brood with the QCs might do the trick, but it's really unlikely that they're worth saving.

Swarming in Vermont in almost August? Silly things...
 

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Thanks Struttinbuck. Hard to say without more info from the vid, but that looks like a small, newly mated queen to me. J
In fact, this alslo maybe a small, never-mated queen (for whatever reason).
One thing for sure - this is NOT a laying worker.
This is a queen.
Laying worker <> not mated (optionally yet) queen.

"This is how a laying worker looks yall"... False. :)

A matter of fact, I have 2-3 nucs just like this from Struttinbuck's videio as we speak.
I am still waiting for some young queens to start laying (they are confirmed present) AND the worker bees are already laying. Some kind of very strange bees I caught this season - they go LW at the drop of a hat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I started thinking that maybe a small swarm moved in at some point I wrote the hive off and stopped inspections. Maybe even one led by a virgin. A stretch, but it would explain a few things. Michael, that's an interesting perspective that is contrary to conventional advice. In any event, I basically had no eggs to donate at the time anyway.
I didn't know a lw hive would stop. I have given up on this hive but it keeps on going J
 

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In fact, this alslo maybe a small, never-mated queen (for whatever reason).
One thing for sure - this is NOT a laying worker.
This is a queen.
Laying worker <> not mated (optionally yet) queen.

"This is how a laying worker looks yall"... False. :)

A matter of fact, I have 2-3 nucs just like this from Struttinbuck's videio as we speak.
I am still waiting for some young queens to start laying (they are confirmed present) AND the worker bees are already laying. Some kind of very strange bees I caught this season - they go LW at the drop of a hat.
She was definately laying all drones though. So either way I'm glad I pinched her. I just came in from reinspecting that hive and the combs are looking like the surface of the moon. I just took a capping knife to the drone cells. That hive has definately thrown me curve balls alllllll summer. YIPES!
 

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In fact, this alslo maybe a small, never-mated queen (for whatever reason).
One thing for sure - this is NOT a laying worker.
This is a queen.
Laying worker <> not mated (optionally yet) queen.

"This is how a laying worker looks yall"... False. :)

A matter of fact, I have 2-3 nucs just like this from Struttinbuck's videio as we speak.
I am still waiting for some young queens to start laying (they are confirmed present) AND the worker bees are already laying. Some kind of very strange bees I caught this season - they go LW at the drop of a hat.
Hey man. You gotta pat me on the back for finding that one though. That queen drove me nuts. And then to catch her on video? Laying up a cell?
Tooting my horn a little. :)
 

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Hey man. You gotta pat me on the back for finding that one though. That queen drove me nuts. And then to catch her on video? Laying up a cell?
Tooting my horn a little. :)
Hopefully you did not squish her - very well she is exactly what you need (could be just freshly mated).
PS: NEVER MIND.... :) oh well - sounds like a good riddance and you still turn this hive around.

Gotta say, I have one such hive and I am STILL unable to find that "thing" that lays up drones (spent too much time already).
I guess one thing to do - shake them out and let them get back inside through the excluder.
Well, but ain't gotten the time.
 

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Hopefully you did not squish her - very well she is exactly what you need (could be just freshly mated).
PS: NEVER MIND.... :) oh well - sounds like a good riddance and you still turn this hive around.

Gotta say, I have one such hive and I am STILL unable to find that "thing" that lays up drones (spent too much time already).
I guess one thing to do - shake them out and let them get back inside through the excluder.
Well, but ain't gotten the time.
Hopefully you did not squish her - very well she is exactly what you need (could be just freshly mated).
PS: NEVER MIND.... :) oh well - sounds like a good riddance and you still turn this hive around.

Gotta say, I have one such hive and I am STILL unable to find that "thing" that lays up drones (spent too much time already).
I guess one thing to do - shake them out and let them get back inside through the excluder.
Well, but ain't gotten the time.
Yea, even though I pinched her days ago, now the bullet cells are showing up thick. And I dealt with too much of that already this year. I seen it coming!
 

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And here is my LW story just as of tonight....

Here is a cooler where the LWs started working.
So I decided that the virgin is gone and done with.
I am getting in there tonight - no queen to be found, just as last time I checked.
Meanwhile LW brood is already being capped. Enough for me.

OK, I will shake these all the LWs out and let them spread around and call it a failure for the season (since I need to be away for too long to keep track of them).

Shook out every little frame. No queen.
Picked up the cooler and..... what do we see here?
The darn good looking queen is running about on the bottom of the cooler - outside!
(this is 7pm already and kinda late for a queen to be outside)
I try to catch her and she flies away.... LOL
But no worry, I know she will come back home.

Frantically, I put all my tiny frames back and keep the nuc open and wait 2-3 minutes.
Dumped bees are coming back home.
No queen.
I look under the cooler again - she is there!
Again - she is running outside around the vent.
OK, I catch her and put inside.
Them immediately I tape over this stupid vent. Stupid, stupid vent.
Fill up the feeder full with syrup so they have enough for a couple of weeks.
Close the nuc.
Done.
Uffda.

Moral of the story:
  • those vents in the mating nucs are evil, evil, evil - shut them closed very tightly and keep that way (I got these vents in all of my coolers too; OK for transportation - terrible for mating).
  • LWs in your mating nuc means you got some stupid, inpatient bees - unwilling to wait for the queen to mate
  • I got at least 3 mating nucs now with LWs in them - letting them be, because the young queens are there too; the bees in these nucs came from the same source colony - must be some stupid lineage I caught in that swarm
 

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And here is my LW story just as of tonight....

Here is a cooler where the LWs started working.
So I decided that the virgin is gone and done with.
I am getting in there tonight - no queen to be found, just as last time I checked.
Meanwhile LW brood is already being capped. Enough for me.

OK, I will shake these all the LWs out and let them spread around and call it a failure for the season (since I need to be away for too long to keep track of them).

Shook out every little frame. No queen.
Picked up the cooler and..... what do we see here?
The darn good looking queen is running about on the bottom of the cooler - outside!
(this is 7pm already and kinda late for a queen to be outside)
I try to catch her and she flies away.... LOL
But no worry, I know she will come back home.

Frantically, I put all my tiny frames back and keep the nuc open and wait 2-3 minutes.
Dumped bees are coming back home.
No queen.
I look under the cooler again - she is there!
Again - she is running outside around the vent.
OK, I catch her and put inside.
Them immediately I tape over this stupid vent. Stupid, stupid vent.
Fill up the feeder full with syrup so they have enough for a couple of weeks.
Close the nuc.
Done.
Uffda.

Moral of the story:
  • those vents in the mating nucs are evil, evil, evil - shut them closed very tightly and keep that way (I got these vents in all of my coolers too; OK for transportation - terrible for mating).
  • LWs in your mating nuc means you got some stupid, inpatient bees - unwilling to wait for the queen to mate
  • I got at least 3 mating nucs now with LWs in them - letting them be, because the young queens are there too; the bees in these nucs came from the same source colony - must be some stupid lineage I caught in that swarm
I don't feel quite so bad now. Also I had no clue that there could be so many laying workers. This is a very informative thread on a very tough subject.Thank You.
 
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