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Laying Worker

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2 minutes ago, Alastair said:

Sounds like a plan. Could improve chances of success further by not shaking any bees out the first day, then a few out each day for a few days till the job is done.

But if I put the cell nuc where the laying worker nuc was wont all the LW bees fly back to their original site .

How many bees will I need to cover the brood to stop it being chilled .

Would one frame be enough.

I can wait till this cold weather has past .

I have read that day 14 is the best day to move a cell .

I only put the eggs in the queenless hive on monday .

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1 hour ago, kaihoka said:

But if I put the cell nuc where the laying worker nuc was wont all the LW bees fly back to their original site .

 

That's why don't shake them first day. Just let natural drift happen first day, after that shake a few a day.

 

1 hour ago, kaihoka said:

How many bees will I need to cover the brood to stop it being chilled .

 

Depend on outside temperatures plus how old the cell is. If the cell is recently capped you'll need a decent amount of bees.

 

1 hour ago, kaihoka said:

Would one frame be enough.

 

Bees in this situation may or may not keep the cell warm, they may not cluster on it. So unless you got a heckuva lot of bees in there, 2 frames is far safer, placed so the bees will be inclined to cluster where the cell is. You may be able to find a frame with only a small circle of brood is that can go opposite the cell, if the small circle of brood matches where the cell is that is where the main bee cluster will be.

 

1 hour ago, kaihoka said:

I have read that day 14 is the best day to move a cell .

 

The nearer to hatching, the safer in terms of survival if you are working with a minimal number of bees. However if you put a point of hatch cell into such a hive the bees may kill it upon hatching, so day 14, as you say, gives the bees a couple of days to accept it and not kill the virgin when she emerges

 

 

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I have seen hives that I thought were probably laying worker's but I would see 99+ drone layers for every laying worker. I believe most people who think they have a laying worker simply can't find the drone layer. Drone layers can be miss mated but otherwise healthy queens, old Queens that have become fully or partially infertile, queens that have been physically damaged (sometimes by fighting) or queens that have been raised from lavae that were older than optimum and these can have both Queen and bee characteristics, they also tend to be very flighty and don't behave like normal queens making them very hard to find. Last year I had a hive that was queenless all summer despite repeated attempts at re-queening. It had no eggs of any kind and I just kept assuming it was queenless until I saw her out of the corner of my eye one day. She was somewhere between a queen and a bee and obviously produced enough Queen pheromone to prevent them raising a new Queen even though she never laid an egg.
I wouldn't see a possible laying worker more than once a twice a decade.
 

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@john berry I have considered that there may be a virgin in there .

It is a pretty weak nuc and there are not many bees in there .

I have looked many times and not seen her .

And the bees are making queen cells they are filling with multiple eggs .

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If the multiple eggs look like normal eggs my guess would still be a drone layer of some sort. If there are numerous eggs in each cell and most of them are thin and not properly formed then laying worker is your most likely diagnosis.
Most hives that go queenless stay queenless unless you intervene. The chance of them becoming ruled by a laying worker are remote but then the universe is immense and anything that can happen occasionally does.

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3 hours ago, john berry said:

I wouldn't see a possible laying worker more than once a twice a decade.
 

 

Experienced beekeepers say this a lot and it’s often beginners that seem to think they have them (myself included). Why?

Is it the beginners kill their queens more then don’t recognise it for ages, basically setting it up to occur?

 

The one I had was a swarm that had been doused in flyspray, and after 2 weeks there were 5-6 messily laid eggs in each cell. A real beekeeper expressed scepticism that it was a laying worker, then confirmed it was and put a few good frames of brood and a caged queen in and it’s been great ever since. 

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I checked my laying worker nuc today . Still a mess .

All the brood is drone brood . More eggs are being laid .

The original nuc is beside it now  with three frames left in, half a doz bees stayed behind and at least one is laying the odd egg.

So there are multiple laying workers 

I put a frame of eggs and open brood in the  large nuc . 

We will see if they make their own queen , having rejected the virgin and the queen cell .

Good news is my avocado tree has lots of tiny fruit . Will see how  many drop .

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I think I'd see laying worker colonies about as often as I'd see drone layer colonies.  The laying workers pop up in mating nucs if cells don't take or if a VQ gets lost, and there is little or no brood left.

 

With laying worker colonies I usually smoke them, destroy any capped brood, larvae and eggs on a frame, and then dish frames out to weaker colonies that may need the bees. 

 

The laying worker frame doesn't go into the same box the Queen is in and is always separated from the Queen by an excluder .  I will spray air freshener on the frame faces and also into the recipient hive.  This seems to work fine.

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1 hour ago, kaihoka said:

I put a frame of eggs and open brood in the  large nuc . 

We will see if they make their own queen , having rejected the virgin and the queen cell .

 

They most likely won't. To do this, you have to give them uncapped brood weekly, 2 weeks running. Long enough to regress the LW's back to normal workers, after that they will raise a queen cell.

 

However the investment of brood, your time, plus the chances of ultimate failure plus small reward even if it does work (because bees in LW hives don't live very long once they start raising brood), in my view make it uneconomic to try.

 

Best option, combine (using proper technique for LW hive) with a queenright hive, and if you did need that extra nuc or hive, split it later. 

Edited by Alastair
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8 hours ago, Alastair said:

because bees in LW hives don't live very long once they start raising brood),

Do you mean they have shorter lives than other bees in a normal hive.?

I do not need the nuc .

But I will persevere because I am curious to see what happens .

I have 4 hives to get eggs and brood from .

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28 minutes ago, kaihoka said:

Do you mean they have shorter lives than other bees in a normal hive.?

 

Sort of what i meant. What happens is brood raising takes a lot of resources from the nurse bees, and shortens their lives. Bees in queenless broodless hives will dwindle on for many months. But give them brood to raise, and they die off pretty quick. In a LW hive, by the time the hive has been broodless long enough to go LW, then been enabled to raise a queen cell and wait for that, then wait for her to mate, then another 3 weeks for the first new brood to hatch, those bees are pretty old anyway, and have had a stressful life. 

 

I really noticed this one time when I had a LW hive of black bees. I gave them italian brood and they raised an italian queen. Eventually the brood started hatching, all light coloured bees. Not very long after that, there was hardly a black bee in the hive.

 

28 minutes ago, kaihoka said:

But I will persevere because I am curious to see what happens .

 

Yes, an interesting experiment, probably every beekeeper should do it at least once, just for the learning experience.

 

As Craig said in his post, for queen breeders, dealing with LW nucs is a constant thing, happening all the time.

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9 hours ago, CraBee said:

I think I'd see laying worker colonies about as often as I'd see drone layer colonies.  The laying workers pop up in mating nucs if cells don't take or if a VQ gets lost, and there is little or no brood left.

 

With laying worker colonies I usually smoke them, destroy any capped brood, larvae and eggs on a frame, and then dish frames out to weaker colonies that may need the bees. 

 

The laying worker frame doesn't go into the same box the Queen is in and is always separated from the Queen by an excluder .  I will spray air freshener on the frame faces and also into the recipient hive.  This seems to work fine.

They must be more common in marginal spring mating conditions . John berry says he seldom sees laying workers , the weather in his area is probably always pretty good for mating , he would not loose many virgins .

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11 minutes ago, Alastair said:

Not very long after that, there was hardly a black bee in the hive.

A hive this spring I  had an umated virgin for a month before I  joined it with a newly mated nuc .

The population crashed shortly after .

It had also lost bees with an early swarm .

If it was a commercial hive it would be not much  good for this season .

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I have a nuc set up for mating on 17 Nov. We have had crud weather since and the Q is (I think) unmated. Her sister has mated and is laying.

What are the choices of action for this nuc? 

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 Put it back on the hive it came from 

Buy a mated Q

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Well just hang on a minute there. Does "nuc set up for mating on the 17th", mean that's when a point of hatch queen cell was put in the nuc, or does it mean that's when the nuc was made and had to raise it's own queen cell?

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1 hour ago, Mummzie said:

I have a nuc set up for mating on 17 Nov. We have had crud weather since and the Q is (I think) unmated. Her sister has mated and is laying.

What are the choices of action for this nuc? 

do you mean it has had a virgin in since the 17th.

is she still there, you could put a frame of eggs in to check.

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cells hatched 17th. Q definitely in the box.

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 @Mummzie Weather is good now she may still mate .

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A week after I put the eggs in my laying worker hive they have  made  no cells .

But the  production  of  drone eggs has slowed down noticeably .

 I got another frame of eggs from a queen right hive .

I also looked tbrough an adjacent hive and saw that the superseded queen had vanished and her daughter had mated.

.there  was a frame in that hive  with two  uncapped queen cells.   So much for my non swarming queen line.

Rather than destroy the cells I put the frame in the nuc with the frame of eggs and sprayed air freshner around.

I took the nuc to the laying worker nuc .

Swapped positions and added more frames to new nuc from LW nuc and shook LW bees out the front  .. . sprayed  more freshner around .

I will.wait a week and see what they do with all that .

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I seldom give up on hives but I knocked all the bees out of one yesterday and used the box on another hive. Despite several searches I never found the Queen although I assume she must've been there. It had a terrible brood pattern and looked like brood from a really bad drone layer but at least some of the brood was emerging as viable workers. I have been putting brood and eggs into this hive for several months with no change. The eggs in the hive looked normal and the hive was fine until it superseded.

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I see that also occasionally John, the odd worker cell with a drone in it, then next visit there is a bigger % of drone brood in worker cells, then she goes full blown drone layer. I assume it's because she is running out of semen but fertilizes most of the eggs but things gradually worsen.

 

Interesting thing, bees often don't recognise the problem and don't attempt to supersede until it's too late. If I don't have any alternatives on me, I'll just kill such a queen and force them to raise an emergency queen, which is not perfect but a better alternative than having her fail completely and leaving the hive with no worker eggs to raise a new queen.

 

The way I differentiate between that and a queenless hive with laying workers, is that laying workers lay many eggs in one cell, a drone laying queen will still place the eggs properly, one per cell.

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