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I have 2 hives that are queenless. I see 10 -20 open larvae in each of last three inspections. I have come to think that shaking out these two is better than any thing I can think of. I put a frame of eggs in one of them about three weeks ago & nothing.

Question; What to look for as far as finding a laying worker?

What happens if a laying worker ends up in a hive w/a good queen?

I plan to shake hives out a couple hours before dark a hundred yards from original site near other hives expecting that they will ingratiate themselves with hives @ original site.

Will these workers bolster the colonies that they try to move in or cause trouble?

I would paper combine to make use of the workers if I knew that the laying worker would not have a detrimental affect on the new hive. not liking that potential.
 

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From my experiences with this It seems that the laying workers have never oriented so if you put a new hive in the old location they won't find there way to it. If they do try to enter a queen right hive they will be seen as a foreign queen, and the workers will kill them.

The foragers won't cause trouble under any kind of normal situation - unless their numbers overwhelm a small hive. For example don't shake out a big hive and put a mating nuc in it's spot - I've tried it and it doesn't work out. Better to completely remove their hive setup so that they disperse into strong hives. You don't really even have to go too far away to do the deed - 50 feet is plenty.

At this time of year I shake out hives at the first sign of a queen issue and use the resources to boost nucs that I started in May. Way better than messing around and letting hive beetles ruin your comb.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Dave.
 

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If it were me, I'd put a moderate sized hive in their place before shaking them out, they will boost those hives like you are thinking. You can't really spot 'the' laying worker, there are usually multiple laying workers once it gets to that point. All brood will be drones, and you typically find cells with more than 3-4 eggs and they lay everywhere, on pollen, queen cups etc... There is risk losing a laying queen with either method, but making them beg into a hive is probably safer.
 

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>Question; What to look for as far as finding a laying worker?

You don't have "a" laying worker. You have thousands of laying workers.

>What happens if a laying worker ends up in a hive w/a good queen?

Usually absolutely nothing.

>I plan to shake hives out a couple hours before dark a hundred yards from original site near other hives expecting that they will ingratiate themselves with hives @ original site.

That's what I would do.

>Will these workers bolster the colonies that they try to move in or cause trouble?

They are poor, humble, homeless bees. They usually cause no trouble.

>I would paper combine to make use of the workers if I knew that the laying worker would not have a detrimental affect on the new hive. not liking that potential.

In a paper combine they are not poor, humble homeless bees begging to be let in. They are bees who found some other bees in their house...

bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
 

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Another option is to put the old hive setup back where it was - but completely empty. No frames, no comb, nothing. The foragers will initially go back, but with nothing to stay for they will quickly drift to other hives over several days instead of all at once.
 

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another option,

a couple of days ago i discovered a hive that had a non-laying queen that was worthy of shaking out. the only brood i found was three queen cells with jelly that were most likely started with unfertilized eggs anyway. there no eggs and no signs of laying workers. i pinched the queen and added her to my queen juice bottle.

this hive had a couple of honey supers on with mostly capped honey that was getting close to being harvestable, so i shook the bees out of those and gave them to queenright colonies to finish.

i started some nucs in june that were moved from five frame boxes to ten frame boxes a couple of weeks ago but haven't filled them yet. i wanted to newspaper combine one of these nucs with the queenless colony but i was concerned that heat and humidity are too high now and the box above the paper would get overheated.

what i did instead was bring a nuc home at sunset yesterday, set in on the spot were the queenless hive was, and screened its entrance down to a one bee opening. i then set the queenless hive right on top of the queenright one.

what i see happening today is the drifting of the queenless bees down into the queenright nuc with minimal fighting. i'll give this a day or two and then shake out the rest from the queenless hive. i'll then use those ten frames of comb to replace frames of foundation in this nuc and my other nucs.
 

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I just thought of something that I've never tried before... when you find a laying worker hive or drone laying queen hive with queen cells, maybe the thing to do is just graft some larvae from a queenright hive into the cells... it wouldn't be too hard if you kept a Chinese grafting tool in your pocket or eve whittled a small twig into a grafting tool... maybe I'll try that one of these days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
'thousands of laying workers'???
 

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>'thousands of laying workers'???

See page 9 of "The Wisdom of the Hive"

"Although worker honey bees cannot mate, they do possess ovaries and can produce viable eggs; hence they do have the potential to have male offspring (in bees and other Hymenoptera, fertilized eggs produce females while unfertilized eggs produce males). It is now clear, however, that this potential is exceedingly rarely realized as long as a colony contains a queen (in queenless colonies, workers eventually lay large numbers of male eggs; see the review in Page and Erickson 1988). One supporting piece of evidence comes from studies of worker ovary development in queenright colonies, which have consistently revealed extremely low levels of development. All studies to date report far fewer than 1 % of workers have ovaries developed sufficiently to lay eggs (reviewed in Ratnieks 1993; see also Visscher 1995a). For example, Ratnieks dissected 10,634 worker bees from 21 colonies and found that only 7 had moderately developed egg (half the size of a completed egg) and that just one had a fully developed egg in her body."

If you do the math, in a normal booming queenright hive of 100,000 bees that's 70 laying workers. In a laying worker hive it's much higher. You can see the progression as they go from scattered drone larvae but no multiple eggs (because the egg police are keeping up) to multiple eggs eventually. So the egg police reach the point they can't keep up. If a normal queenright colony has 60 or so laying workers, what does a laying worker colony have?

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

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what i did instead was bring a nuc home at sunset yesterday, set in on the spot were the queenless hive was, and screened its entrance down to a one bee opening. i then set the queenless hive right on top of the queenright one.
just to follow up on how this worked out:

to start with the queenless hive had roughly 6 frames of bees, and when i went back in after pinching the queen i found a couple of new faux queen cells started indicating laying workers. the queenright nuc i brought in for the combine had 4 - 5 frames of bees.

toward the end of the second day about half of the bees from the queenless hive had drifted into the nuc. i then shook the remaining three frames of bees out about 10 yards out in front of the hives. i did this one frame at a time, and waited long enough in between frames for each frame of bees to work it's way into the nuc. there was no fighting, but some roar was heard for a short time while each frame of bees was working its way in.

i was concerned that the shaken in bees might ball the queen, but on today's inspection she is alive and laying and the combine was a success.

i'm not sure i want to do this again, but as it turns out it may have been a better alternative to trying a newspaper combine in the high heat.
 

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'thousands of laying workers'???
I question the numbers also. Thousands??

Surely a laying worker colony will have far less bees than 100,000 bees. I find they have dwindled significantly by the time the colony develops laying workers. If a colony of 60,000 bees...more like the average colony...loses half their bees during the dwindle, which I feel is entirely possible, and now has 30,000 bees, Seeley is saying maybe 21 laying workers, not thousands....if the figure 7:10,634 is correct.
 

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>Surely a laying worker colony will have far less bees than 100,000 bees.

That number is a booming queenright colony and the number "70" was based on the percent of laying workers in a queenright colony that the researchers counted.

>I find they have dwindled significantly by the time the colony develops laying workers.

Agreed.

>If a colony of 60,000 bees...more like the average colony...loses half their bees during the dwindle, which I feel is entirely possible, and now has 30,000 bees, Seeley is saying maybe 21 laying workers, not thousands....if the figure 7:10,634 is correct.

The figure 7:10,634 is in a queenright colony, not a laying worker colony. Seeley is saying a normal queenright colony of 30,000 would have 21 laying workers.

If you watch the progression of a hive going laying worker, you see a period where no multiple eggs are visible and there are scattered capped drone cells, scattered larvae and a few queen cells with larvae in them. This is still at that point where the egg police are keeping up with the workers. That 7:10,634 number has risen significantly enough that they are not quite keeping up (as evidenced by the scattered larvae) but they are mostly keeping up (as evidenced by the lack of multiple eggs). Soon, however they get overwhelmed by laying workers and the number grows enough that they can no longer keep up. Seeley is saying that 21 laying workers in a queenright hive of 30,000 bees would be normal. A laying worker hive is enough more that the egg police fall so far behind that every cell has dozens of eggs. All the research I've seen on laying workers indicates they produce eggs at a much slower rate than a queen, so how many of them does it take to overwhelm the egg police to that degree? It looks like more than a hundred times as many to me... there are thousands and thousands of eggs in a laying worker hive. There are hundreds of studies on the topic, but most of them I can't access without paying for it...
 

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If you watch the progression of a hive going laying worker, you see a period where no multiple eggs are visible and there are scattered capped drone cells, scattered larvae and a few queen cells with larvae in them. This is still at that point where the egg police are keeping up with the workers. That 7:10,634 number has risen significantly enough that they are not quite keeping up (as evidenced by the scattered larvae) but they are mostly keeping up (as evidenced by the lack of multiple eggs). Soon, however they get overwhelmed by laying workers and the number grows enough that they can no longer keep up. Seeley is saying that 21 laying workers in a queenright hive of 30,000 bees would be normal. A laying worker hive is enough more that the egg police fall so far behind that every cell has dozens of eggs. All the research I've seen on laying workers indicates they produce eggs at a much slower rate than a queen, so how many of them does it take to overwhelm the egg police to that degree? It looks like more than a hundred times as many to me... there are thousands and thousands of eggs in a laying worker hive. There are hundreds of studies on the topic, but most of them I can't access without paying for it...
Hundreds of studies you can't access? Links?

All the research you HAVE read leads you to say there are dozens of eggs per cell? Links?

Michael, you're throwing out numbers to fit your dogma, without any science to back up your numbers. Show me a study, or a photo of a laying worker colony with dozens of eggs per cell in, enough cells to add up to thousands and thousands of eggs per colony.

I don't have to read any studies to know it there aren't dozens per cell. I can draw on my experience, and my photo collection. Here's a typical laying worker colony with a typical number of eggs per cell. 2-6, not dozens.




Nor do the queen cell they attempt to start have dozens of eggs per cup...more like the worker cells...2-6.



Have you ever seen laying workers lay eggs? I have. They go from cell to cell laying eggs. They try so hard to stick their butt down into the cells, but their wings are stuck outside the cell looking like someone who has fallen down into a narrow hole and caught themselves by the elbows. Hilarious. But the numbers don't add up to dozens of eggs per cell.

I'm not trying to be a pita, or discredit you in any way, but if you're going to quote numbers then back them up so I can draw the same conclusions as you. I'm not fro Missouri, but show me....
 

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I would definitely NOT do a combine of these bees with any healthy hive.

I did a shake-out this year of a four-box colony which was a laying-workers colony. I moved all 4 boxes with frames about 100 feet away. Then I removed the bottom board so that where the hive had been now was an empty place (next to 4 healthy queen-right hives). Then I shook out all the frames where I had moved them. The foraging bees returned to find their hive gone, and most moved into the hive next to their former home. There were many bees left on the ground at the shake-out site, which I believe were mostly the laying workers.

There were a lot of bees flying around for about 1/2 hour, but the shake-out went quite well, I think. The only other thing I had to do was to add another box, as the population nearly doubled.
 

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>Hundreds of studies you can't access? Links?

It's easy enough to do a "scholar.google.com" search, but the studies that talk about how many eggs they lay I can't seem to find access to the study to get the numbers now. Yes I've read some of them in the past, but can't seem to find those available right now and frankly it's time consuming. I've seen dozens of eggs sometimes. Yes sometimes it's just five or six. It escalates rapidly once you get to where you are seeing multiple eggs.

>Michael, you're throwing out numbers to fit your dogma

Dogma? What investment do I have in laying workers?

At 7 laying workers per 10,000 in a queenright colony they are removing virtually all the eggs. At the early stages of laying workers where they are still removing almost all the eggs (and there are only a few scattered drone larvae and scattered drone caps) how many are the egg police removing? At the point where they can't keep up and there are five and six eggs per cell how many are they removing? Yes there are studies on this, but I can only get to the abstracts.

From scholar.google.com try a search on something like:
bees number of laying workers eggs

> Have you ever seen laying workers lay eggs?

Yes. Not so hard to find in a laying worker mating nuc that has gone queenless. It reminds of a little kid trying not to fall in the toilet...
 

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Ok, here is one that refers to several other studies:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1420-9101.2004.00751.x/pdf

Worker reproduction and policing in insect societies:
an ESS analysis
T. WENSELEERS,* H. HELANTERA¨ , A. HART* & F. L. W. RATNIEKS
Journal of Evolutionary Biology, VOl 17, Issue 5, 25 May 2004

On Page 9

"A sudden increase in the fraction of laying workers following orphanage has been reported many times (reviewed in Fletcher & Ross, 1984, Bourke, 1988, Choe, 1988). FOr example in the honeybee, A. mellifera and the wasp, V. vulgaris, only
0.01–0.1 and 1% of the workers have active ovaries in queenright colonies, but this rises to 36 and 25% following orphanage (Marchal, 1896; Miller & Ratnieks, 2001)."

In a 100,000 bee queenright hive we were talking about .0007% which was 70 workers. Here they are saying it rises to 36 and 25%. At 25% that is 25,000 laying workers. In your more likely scenario of 30,000 bees, that is 7,500. In a mating nuc with maybe 1,000 bees that is 250.
 
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