Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,265 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
When a hive is queenless, at what point do the workers begin to develop the ability to lay?

Does it begin as the number of larvae are diminishing (being capped), or is it some days later? Or even a week or so later?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,176 Posts
Queenless is the problem (because you end up with no brood) but it's not what causes laying workers. It's the lack of brood. Your second sentence is on target since the "scent" of the brood keeps the hive from developing laying workers. In my experience, this takes a few weeks although others may have different opinions. If you know you're queenless and you can add brood from another hive, you'd be smart to do so while they build their own queen or until you can get one and install her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Recently we lost our queen and the brood numbers plummeted while we were awaiting a new one to be made--then we had to order one. I was told by the master keepers in the area that it would take 2-3 weeks of no brood at all before you'd get a laying worker.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,290 Posts
I find laying workers in my mating nucs if the cell wasn't accepted. My rotation is 16 days. When a cell isn't accepted...no laying queen or virgin 16 days after celling the nuc, there is still some emerging brood. Not usually any laying workers at that point. If the nuc doesn't accept the second cell, there will be laying workers on the next check...16 days later. So, I guess laying workers start somewhere between 16 and 32 days from the colony going queenless, provides there are no virgins present.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,618 Posts
Hi all

According to Ben Oldroyd and Madeleine Beekman, laying workers exist in all colonies to a certain extent. The other "normal" workers eat the eggs.

The ovaries of workers are generally suppressed by the presence of queen pheromones, as well as brood pheromones, but obviously the presence of the queen is most important.

When a hive is queenless, more workers' ovaries develop and the worker policing (egg eating) diminishes, so it seems like all of a sudden there are laying workers, while in fact they may have been there all along.

When Workers Disunite: Intraspecific Parasitism by Eusocial Bees
Madeleine Beekman and Benjamin P. Oldroyd
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,265 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
The ovaries of workers are generally suppressed by the presence of queen pheromones, as well as brood pheromones, but obviously the presence of the queen is most important.

PLB,

Are you saying that placing a caged queen in the hive would have a greater effect on reversing the development of laying workers than giving the hive some open brood?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,618 Posts
PLB,

Are you saying that placing a caged queen in the hive would have a greater effect on reversing the development of laying workers than giving the hive some open brood?
Not exactly. I think that it is obvious that the queen suppresses the laying workers more than open brood, because laying workers do not appear during the winter broodless period if a queen is present.

Insofar as restoring a laying worker hive, I never do it. I believe that once they are that far gone, there isn't much worth saving. Really, the only way to save a laying worker hive is to stick a full nuc into it.

In doing that, you have really done nothing but give grief to the nuc, which would probably build up better without all those old messed up bees. I have always preferred to dump laying worker hives out in the woods.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,261 Posts
Insofar as restoring a laying worker hive, I never do it. I believe that once they are that far gone, there isn't much worth saving.
I completely agree with PLB. Once you figure out you have a laying worker (several weeks as stated in previous posts) its too late. The colony population is very old and low, an introduced queen will most likely be killed, and throwing frames of eggs/larva at them for several weeks hoping they will produce a queen is usually hopeless. I either combine them (newspaper) with a strong colony and split them later when they build up or just shake them out and move on. I lean towards the shakeout anymore, I just dont have the time nor energy to nurse a problem hive. I have had these problem hives severely affect the stronger colonies or nucs when combined so as PLB put it why give a perfectly good nuc or full colony nothin but grief.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,290 Posts
Insofar as restoring a laying worker hive, I never do it.
I don't either, but mating nucs are different. Laying worker mating nucs will often accept a queen cell, and the queen will mate. An article in ABJ I think...it was an abstract...compared russian/italian differences in laying worker colonies accepted cells. I believe both had an acceptance rate of 75%.
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,108 Posts
Since I've always got queen cells from raising queens, I often put queen cells in laying worker hives. I'd say the success is about 50%. Much higher in mating nucs as mentioned. But I also tend to pull a frame out of the laying worker mating nuc and put it in a hive and pull a frame of brood from a hive and put it in the mating nuc... nice to have all the same size frmes.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top