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I have been challenged by one of my hives since the start of May. This hive swarmed in early May and then had trouble with a good laying queen. I had spotted at least three queens in this hive, but none seemed to be laying any eggs. After a couple of weeks of letting Mother Nature do her thing, I decided to intervene. I purchased a Carniolan Queen, as I have been wanting to give them a try.
She was introduced in her queen cage on May 22. At the time of her introduction, there were no eggs evident in the hive.
On May 27 the hive was inspected and the queen had been released. I was not able to find her in the hive, but there were a good number of eggs. The eggs were in the proper position and a single egg per cell was noted.
Today, May 31, I inspected again. I was not able to locate the queen, but I did find normal eggs, hatched eggs and some uncapped larvae. No capped brood was found.

I was upset to find the classic signs of a laying worker(s). Cells were found with eggs on the sides of the cell, eggs off center and laying down and multiple eggs per cell. I found one cell with at least five eggs in it.

I did see cells with single, normal looking eggs as well. For that reason, I feel the queen is still there, but it seems that the bees have grown impatient for having been with no brood for a couple of weeks.

Should I intervene in any manner, or let the bees handle themselves for now? I know it would be impossible to find the laying worker. I would be much happier if I could find the queen and know that she is there, but I am still going on the egg findings to indicate she is there and is laying.
 

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How much time/money do you want to invest in saving this hive?

Adding a frame of eggs and brood every week will eventually straighten them out. It takes time and multiple trips to the beeyard.

If you are going to add a queen, give them a virgin queen. 'Sometimes' you can fix them by giving them a virgin. Giving them a mated queen is usually a recipe for wasting a $20 bill.

If it was me, I would shake the bees out like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iddq0-hjYXQ , and give the empty box to a strong hive. In a month when the strong hive has filled that box with brood, I would split that box back off and give them a mated queen.
 

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I presume you didn't mark your purchased queen which would make her harder to find, and if you didn't mark that queen you're not sure what you have if you run across a queen. I'm a big fan of marking my queens.

I've messed around with laying workers and requeening with little success. My remedy is to move the laying worker hive about 10 feet away to a new hive stand. In it's place on the old hive stand, I'll make a split with four or five frames of brood and attached bees. I may introduce a purchased queen or I may let them raise their own.

The field bees from the laying worker hive return to the orginal spot and I just let the laying worker hive dwindle down to nothing. Then the equipment is cleaned up for my next swarm or split.

A hive with a laying worker just doesn't warrant too much of my time and energy.

All the best,

Grant
Jackson, MO www.maxhoney.homestead.com
 

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Dealing with a laying worker right now, I just stuck 2 capped queen cells in the laying worker hive. The cells have been capped for at least 5 days now, sooooo.....I'm now in a holding pattern just waiting to see if that's going to work. I did give them a frame of brood last Tuesday or Wednesday, but they didn't do anything with it, so when I found the swarm cells in one of my hives, it was a mixed emotion situation.

Craig
 

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question..... when you shake the bees out of the hive, you're shaking the laying worker or workers out, right? does she/they not join another hive and continue laying, or do they stop?

and, what's the life span of a laying worker? would they live as long as a queen, or die within a few months?
 

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does she/they not join another hive and continue laying, or do they stop?

Guard bees only let workers enter the hive if the workers are carrying nectar. If a worker bee tries to enter a strange hive, but is not full of nectar, the guard bees treat the stranger like a robber.

It's unlikely a laying worker would be carrying nectar when they got shook out. With no hive to join, they would likely die in a short time.

and, what's the life span of a laying worker? would they live as long as a queen, or die within a few months?

Queens live longer because they are fed royal jelly for a longer time while in the larval stage. A laying worker would likely have the same life expectancy as any other worker.
 
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