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I am pretty certain I have a queenless, laying-worker hive. All of the capped brood is drone brood and is mixed in with larvae of brood frames. I have to believe those larvae will be drones.

This was a swarm capture and at first I thought it may have been a secondary swarm, with virgin queen. The only capped brood I have observed is drone brood.
The other day I checked the hive and found the same conditions. However, I also saw 2 capped swarm cells.
I have researched online and found an article where a laying-worker was seen laying in queen cups. Unfortunately, that is where the observations ended. (June 2018, American Bee Journal article)

My Question:
If a laying worker laid in a swarm cell, would the workers still treat it like a viable queen? Meaning will they still cap the cell?
Seeing a capped swarm cell, in a hive that I know has been queenless (or with a failed queen) makes no sense.

Thanks.
 

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Hives that are hopelessly laying worker will sometimes build queen cells that have a drone larva in them. They normally die around capping time.

Abnormal response to the abnormal situation the bees find themselves in.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hives that are hopelessly laying worker will sometimes build queen cells that have a drone larva in them. They normally die around capping time.

Abnormal response to the abnormal situation the bees find themselves in.
Thanks. That is what I believed I was seeing, but I never heard it said anywhere. The really strange thing is those swarm cells were made when there was only a laying-worker.
 

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The bees won't be planning to swarm, so they are not swarm cells. If you are correct about the hive being a laying worker hive, bees will sometimes attempt to raise emergency queens from the laying worker eggs. They realise there is a queen issue and the drive to produce queen cells can be very strong, so they do the best they can with what is available. Of course, a queen does not result.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The bees won't be planning to swarm, so they are not swarm cells. If you are correct about the hive being a laying worker hive, bees will sometimes attempt to raise emergency queens from the laying worker eggs. They realise there is a queen issue and the drive to produce queen cells can be very strong, so they do the best they can with what is available. Of course, a queen does not result.
The cells are in swarm cell position and there are none in the usual supersedure positions, which is the real anomaly. I've had laying worker hives before, but never saw capped queen cells in them.
 

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Well if they are genuine queen cells with an actual queen in them, you must have had a laying queen in the hive to lay a fertilised egg.

Re the position of the cells, if bees are planning to swarm, they are not going to go - oh, we cant swarm, cos the queen cell is in the wrong place. Or if they want to supersede, they are not going to go oh we can't supersede, cos the queen cell is on the bottom of the comb, so we cant use that queen to supersede.

In a real hive, not what may be written on the net, bees will build cells anywhere and everywhere if they are planning to swarm, or, if they are planning to supersede. The state of the hive, and the number of cells, tells us their intent, not the position of the cells.

I have even heard beekeepers saying their bees got confused and made a mistake, because they built supersedure cells but instead swarmed. The bees were not confused, the beekeeper was
 

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Miniature drones in worker cells is a dead give-away for laying workers. Also, the brood will usually be in discrete areas, not even across the frame, and variable in age.

If you have a drone laying queen, she may produce a few fertilized eggs, and the bees will draw queen cells around diploid larvae. In that case, expect to see "emergency" queen cells instead of the nice, long peanut size and shaped ones on frame edges and bottoms. The bees will use whatever larvae they find suitable to make a new queen.

If there is NO worker brood, I'd start putting a frame with open brood and eggs in there every week until they make a new queen. Will take a couple weeks of open brood to make the laying worker quit (there a many of them, not one).
 

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Oldtimer spelled out the situation well. Bees do the best with what they've got available to them. If all they've got is drone larvae, then they'll use that in an attempt to produce a queen-cell.

I call these 'lady-boy' cells, because at first glance they look like the real thing, but aren't. In fact, they're usually longer, and thus more 'exaggerated' - so I think the term is appropriate. One giveaway is unlike the random 'sculpted' appearance of a genuine q/cell, the lady-boy cell usually has almost parallel striations running along it's length.

As already said, they tend not to run the distance, but are torn-down when the bees finally realise their mistake.
LJ
 

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

Speaking of females laying male eggs alone, I have already expressed my surprise that bees bestow, on those deposited in royal cells, such care and attention as to feed the worms proceeding from them, and, at the period of transformation, to close them up. But I know not, Sir, why I omitted to observe that, after sealing the royal cells, the workers build them up, and sit on them until the last metamorphosis of the included male. (Translators note: It is difficult to discover whether the author thinks, as some Naturalists, that bees are instrumental in hatching the eggs. T.) The treatment of the royal cells where fertile workers lay the eggs of drones is very different. They begin indeed with bestowing every care on their eggs and worms; they close the cells at a suitable time, but never fail to destroy them three days afterwards. --Huber's New Observations on The Natural History of Bees
 

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Hmm. Seeing the same thing, in an overwintered nuc where I have not seen a queen since last fall. Two capped queen cells and one open, occupied.

I gave it a frame of brood of all ages on 4/28, so one month later would be way too late for the queen cells to be from that frame. Lots of eggs and brood, some of which appears to be capped worker brood. I saw one cell with two larvae, but the other cells have only one, and the visible eggs are in the bottoms of the cells.

I'm going back out and opening it up again right now, to take a closer look.
 

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How crowded are they? Might be getting ready to swarm!

Otherwise, probably you have a poorly mated queen and they want a better one. Had a really mean hive last year, seemed to have a queen cell in it every time I opened it up! Finally got one they liked, making honey like crazy this year.
 
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