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Drones laid in the honey supers


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So, a friend asked me to help her go through her two hives because she has a broken thumb and we have both received 'local robbed out AFB hive' warnings (scary stuff!).

 

She had previously been through them just less than a month ago and all was well with a good build up. The first hive was great with three 3/4 honey supers at different stages of being filled and everything looking as it should. The second one was a different story: As soon as I cracked the lid I could see drone brood in the supers! Bummer. So, with baited breaths we dug deeper into the hive (all 3/4 gear) and found this: top two supers with a half rugby ball of drone brood surrounded by honey/nectar, I took off the QE and the top brood box was pock marked with drone brood (see photos below), and the bottom super was normal - surprisingly - absolutely full of worker brood at all stages! 

 

IMG_8760.thumb.JPG.74e49f76ec53a3ff54212e35971c7f50.JPG

 

So, we stood their scratching our heads wondering what was going on. She is very disappointed that all this drone has ruined her previously even comb, not to mention the mess in the honey supers. As you can see in the photo there is still loads of workers. I temporarily caged the queen (from the bottom brood box), who looked OK, so we could make a plan.  

 

Figuring that that there was a drone laying queen somehow in the honey supers we decided to completely empty the supers of bees by shaking them out five meters away, brushing off the left overs and destroying all the drone brood. We sprayed the supers and lid with toilet spray and put it back together (empty). But later I realised that there is an entrance in the QE and this could be a problem, or the source of the problem. This does not account for all the drone brood in the second brood box.

 

Weirdly, we couldn't find a single egg in or around the drone brood in the supers.

 

The eggs in the brood boxes were all singles laid in the bottom of each cell.

 

No sign of AFB and varroa is under control.

 

What is going on? Any and all suggestions welcome!

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I'm not big enough for you to be the supreme one? Jeez, that hurts my feelings

Few possibilities: -There was a drone laying queen -Drone laying workers from another hive.   -BUT based on the description of the situation - less honey, more drone brood (less "p

Laying workers lay unfertilised eggs which can certainly result in adult drones. I have done quite a bit of work with the University over the years looking at workers with active ovaries. In a queenle

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This year there have been lots and lots of drones - no obvious reason.  Some in solid blocks on one side of a frame. Puzzling.

But you do know there was a queen above the QE 3 weeks ago - probably a leaking QE so she went on a tiki tour and ended up where the BK wants her.

Is there an escape so the drones can get out from above the QE ?

 

I would just tidy up (fork out lots of the drone cells, the bees use the remaining white gooey stuff to feed larvae with) and let the bees sort it out, and they are happy using drone cells for honey storage and later harvesting.

 

What's the toilet spray for ?

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I’m glad you say you have lots of drones @tudor, I’ve had loads. On a hot day the noise is quite something.

 

I took some drone brood above the excluder to get it out of circulation and put some tidy frames in. This led to a capped queen cell, so I’m guessing there was a couple of worker eggs in there. I’d put the frames right at the top of the box (6th box). If she had hatched I assume she could have fitted through thrnexcluder but if not, could that cause the same effect? Drone layer?

Edited by cBank
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13 minutes ago, tudor said:

This year there have been lots and lots of drones - no obvious reason.  Some in solid blocks on one side of a frame. Puzzling.

But you do know there was a queen above the QE 3 weeks ago - probably a leaking QE so she went on a tiki tour and ended up where the BK wants her.

Is there an escape so the drones can get out from above the QE ?

 

I would just tidy up (fork out lots of the drone cells, the bees use the remaining white gooey stuff to feed larvae with) and let the bees sort it out, and they are happy using drone cells for honey storage and later harvesting.

 

What's the toilet spray for ?

 

Thanks. Had a really good look for a 'leaky' QE and couldn't see any bent wire, but it is possible. Still seems waaaay too much drone.

 

The toilet spray was to disguise potential Q pheramones upstairs when we kicked out all the bees. I figured an unmated supercedure Q made it back to the hive and came in through the escape in the QE then started laying drones.

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Oh that’s interesting 

 

Seems the queen has got up through the excluder to lay, and gone back again , one way or another.

She has laid drones there simply because they are large drone sized cells.

Just provide and exit above the excluder for the drones to get out of the hive and all will return to normal , so long as the queen can’t get back up.

If there is plenty of worker brood as you say , there is nothing wrong with the queen 

 

On the odd occasion , queen will exit the hive and go back in the excluder entrance, and other times it’s Beek error that moves her. Clearly one or the other has happened . 

Edited by M4tt
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by the pattern of drone brood i would say there is a queen up there.

 

this season i have had a few queens cells made above the excluder on the bottom of the frames.

so quite possible to have one hatch and get a virgin queen stuck up there.

or have an old drone layer get in at some stage and they raised a new queen in the brood box.

at a one month inspection time frame thats possible.

 

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On 20/11/2018 at 12:58 AM, CHCHPaul said:

.....

 

What is going on? Any and all suggestions welcome!

Few possibilities:

-There was a drone laying queen

-Drone laying workers from another hive.

 

-BUT based on the description of the situation - less honey, more drone brood (less "police" behavior) farther away from the queen, lack of eggs in the supers and so on.. It sounds like an anarchist workers. 

 

Usually there are always some laying workers in a normal queenright hive. And it is common to get some (dozen) drone brood above the QE from the workers. Everybody I know who does AI is aware of this problem. 

 

But the percentage of the anarchist workers can vary between the hives and can be bred intentionally. And in such hives, during certain times the season big % of the workers can start behave like queens.

 

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@Scutellator that makes perfect sense.

 

As it’s the queen pheromone that stops workers from laying .

The bees will produce queen cells in a hive that has a brood box separated by an excluder because of the lack of pheromone so in a small percentage of hives where there are workers that have more propensity to lay I can see how this would happen.

 

 

One of the best things about beekeeping is no matter how long you do it there’s always something new to learn .

Thanks @CHCHPaul for asking  the question and @Scutellator for the answer :) 

Edited by frazzledfozzle
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I saw the same thing in a hive I checked yesterday and see some of it pretty much every season.

As @Scutellator suggested, this is due to workers that are laying above the excluder (anarchist workers). Not sure about there being at least some laying workers in every hive but I've seen it often enough that I know it definitely happens.

If the queen is getting through the excluder somewhere there would also be worker brood in the super and I've seen it a number of times where it is only drone brood. It is frustrating when you are trying to run dedicated honey supers!

Edited by Otto
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21 minutes ago, Otto said:

I saw the same thing in a hive I checked yesterday and see some of it pretty much every season.

As @Scutellator suggested, this is due to workers that are laying above the excluder (anarchist workers). Not sure about there being at least some laying workers in every hive but I've seen it often enough that I know it definitely happens.

If the queen is getting through the excluder somewhere there would also be worker brood in the super and I've seen it a number of times where it is only drone brood. It is frustrating when you are trying to run dedicated honey supers!

I Agree with Otto. See this every year in maybe 1 in 100 hives. Never more than about a third of a frame.

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53 minutes ago, Otto said:

I saw the same thing in a hive I checked yesterday and see some of it pretty much every season.

As @Scutellator suggested, this is due to workers that are laying above the excluder (anarchist workers). Not sure about there being at least some laying workers in every hive but I've seen it often enough that I know it definitely happens.

If the queen is getting through the excluder somewhere there would also be worker brood in the super and I've seen it a number of times where it is only drone brood. It is frustrating when you are trying to run dedicated honey supers!

The pattern I have been seeing is regular and ordered, which is unlike laying workers produce a pattern which looks cobblestoned and messy.  It's easy to assume that the regular pattern is queen laid - and I don't use QE's so she can go where she wants.

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1 hour ago, Otto said:

I saw the same thing in a hive I checked yesterday and see some of it pretty much every season.

As @Scutellator suggested, this is due to workers that are laying above the excluder (anarchist workers). Not sure about there being at least some laying workers in every hive but I've seen it often enough that I know it definitely happens.

If the queen is getting through the excluder somewhere there would also be worker brood in the super and I've seen it a number of times where it is only drone brood. It is frustrating when you are trying to run dedicated honey supers!

Pics please 

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34 minutes ago, tudor said:

The pattern I have been seeing is regular and ordered, which is unlike laying workers produce a pattern which looks cobblestoned and messy.  It's easy to assume that the regular pattern is queen laid - and I don't use QE's so she can go where she wants.

 

Yes, the pattern was regular and ordered. Strangely in both supers (two little arcs of drone brood). Wish I’d taken photos befor destroying it... the photo above is of the second brood box and that could have been messy with drone all along for all I know. 

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Laying workers lay unfertilised eggs which can certainly result in adult drones. I have done quite a bit of work with the University over the years looking at workers with active ovaries. In a queenless environment there is huge variation in how many workers activate their ovaries, how many eggs they lay and how much policing there is.

 

16 minutes ago, CHCHPaul said:

 

Yes, the pattern was regular and ordered. Strangely in both supers (two little arcs of drone brood). Wish I’d taken photos befor destroying it... the photo above is of the second brood box and that could have been messy with drone all along for all I know. 

 

How good the (drone) brood pattern looks has less to do with the fact that it is workers laying the eggs and more to do with the size of the cells they lay into. If they are laying eggs in an area of drone comb you can get some decent looking drone brood, especially at this time of the season when bees are very keen to produce drones. If they are laying in worker comb then the pattern tends to be ugly. 

Laying workers show a distinct preference for laying in drone cells rather than worker cells.

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12 hours ago, M4tt said:

Hang on a minute .....

 

Drone laying workers wouldn’t be able to produce viable, full size drones , would they .............

 

 

Perhaps I don’t have enough hives to have had this happen . 

I shall let one of my laying worker drone combs go full term and let you know .

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