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I have what I strongly suspect is a laying worker hive, but today when I was doing some suggested manipulations, I found a few completely round, ball-shaped cells on one of the brood frames. They looked empty, but the workers were reaching down inside.

These were located in the middle of the frame where supercedure cells are normally found. Are they trying raise a queen? Any idea about what's going on?
 

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Those little ball thingys are "cups." The bees build them all the time just for the heck of it. If you scrape them off they'll build them right back. Unless there's a larva in a cell it means nothing. Russian bees build cups and cells frequently, even taking them to the point of capping them, then tear them down. Crazy critters!
 

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Yes, laying worker colonies will try to raise a cell. Never make it to maturity as the eggs are drone eggs.

One sure sign of a laying worker colony is supercedure queen cups with multiple eggs. Laying worker colonies will often accept a ripe queen cell but never a laying queen.
 
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