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Markypoo

Question options for a drone laying queen

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Okay, to give the background. Approx. 8 weeks ago I discovered one of my hives had no queen and a pile of supercedure cells. I thought "sweet,leave them to do their thing" I noticed 3 weeks later upon inspection that I couldn't find the queen. There was a small section of eggs and very young brood. Only 1 egg per cell. Looked normal so I thought I had a queen, not laying workers. I went back in today. It is full of drones and it is entirely drone brood. Not scattered but big, swathes of it, so I think it is a poorly mated queen. I certainly can't find her and It wasn't the warmest for mating flights.

Either way something has gone wrong. Looking at my options, I am quite happy to shake out the hive, let the workers find the other 3 hives in the apiary and strengthen them. It seems to be the easiest option.. I have placed in a frame of open brood (eggs, some just hatched by the looks of). So will take a look next weekend, if no queen cells I might do the shake out.

Any thoughts on my plan?

 

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if you can't find the drone layer then adding brood is about your only option other than just shaking all the bees out. If you add a queen without killing the old one thing for some reason the drone layer seems to win the fight close to 100% of the time. Drone layers can be very hard to find. They are often smaller than a normal Queen and even when they are full-sized they tend to run around a lot more for some reason. Providing you have spare brood you can just keep adding it and keep the hive alive until either they supersede naturally or you find and kill her. If the hive is still strong you could just bang all the bees out several metres from the hive . The bees will return to the hive and hopefully raise a new Queen with the brood you give it. Laying Queen's are normally too heavy to fly and do not normally find their way home. I have done this and then found the Queen later on the grass surrounded by a handful of attendants.

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how far away is necessary? 5m, 10m or 50m?

It is possible that it is also a laying worker but I am pretty sure the eggs are good.

Just another new experience with bees, just when I was thinking I was getting a good grip on things!

 

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It’s an unmated queen . Drone laying workers ( plural ) lay many eggs randomly in cells . Never one tidily in the bottom . 
5 metres is plenty . Further if you like .

 

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Cheers. I might just have another look tomorrow and go through with a fine tooth comb and see what I see. Just to make sure I have got my diagnosis correct.

 

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You could smoke  the bees through a queen excluder. There’s a chance she may be too big to get through. 

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19 minutes ago, nikki watts said:

You could smoke  the bees through a queen excluder. There’s a chance she may be too big to get through. 

Does that work .

Most springs I spend a lot of time and effort looking for a virgin.

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give them a good smoke (so their guts are full of honey)and then remove the hive (and any pallet) and shake the bees to the ground a good distance away

 

the bees will immediately fly back and then start to enter the nearest hive there. you could put a queen excluder in front of the entrance there to make sure any drone laying queen cant enter. (usually the guards should kill her, but with many bees entering they might not be able to do so)

 

although my gut feeling tells me that its laying workers. bees dont read books. the workers dont know they are not supposed to lay eggs to the bottom of the cell. but it doesnt matter anyway.

 

any brood frames you might want to put into it are better used to make new nucs.

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2 hours ago, kaihoka said:

Most springs I spend a lot of time and effort looking for a virgin.

I used to be a lot like that.

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Bit busy to get back in and a nasty cold wind anyway so will leave it till this weekend and see whats happening. Hopefully I will find a nice fat queen laying up a storm now, or they are trying to make queens out of the eggs and milky larvae i put in. 

Strengthening the other hives can only be a good thing I suppose.

I have a strong 6 frame nuc with a capped queen cell sitting in it, so I can start again with that in a week or two if I need to.

 

 

2 hours ago, Christi An said:

give them a good smoke (so their guts are full of honey)and then remove the hive (and any pallet) and shake the bees to the ground a good distance away

 

the bees will immediately fly back and then start to enter the nearest hive there. you could put a queen excluder in front of the entrance there to make sure any drone laying queen cant enter. (usually the guards should kill her, but with many bees entering they might not be able to do so)

 

Would reducing the entrances to the other hives for the day help them sort out undesirables?

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I had a hive that started superseding unexpectedly and then went drone layer.I looked but I couldn't find her. I put some brood into it but it made no effort to re-queen itself. A while back I put a 10 day cell into it and yesterday I checked the hive and it had healthy sealed brood. I saw the Queen and was surprised that she looked reasonably old and a bit damaged around the end of the abdomen but decided to leave her as she seemed to be laying really well. Around the corner walks a beautiful new Queen and although they seem to be getting on fine I removed the old Queen from the equation.The damage that made her turn drone layer was probably caused by rough handling by me when doing a brood inspection. You need to be careful but sometimes you also need to be quick and most for time you get away with it.

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1 hour ago, Markypoo said:

Bit busy to get back in and a nasty cold wind anyway so will leave it till this weekend and see whats happening. Hopefully I will find a nice fat queen laying up a storm now, or they are trying to make queens out of the eggs and milky larvae i put in. 

Strengthening the other hives can only be a good thing I suppose.

I have a strong 6 frame nuc with a capped queen cell sitting in it, so I can start again with that in a week or two if I need to.

 

 

Would reducing the entrances to the other hives for the day help them sort out undesirables?

 

sounds good to me 🙂

 

i honestly dont know. however my hives do have quite tight entrances all year round anyway (Seeley's research to me seems clear on that matter)

 

If you want to reduce the entrance before shaking the other bees to the ground i'd do it a few days before. The reason being that reducing the entrance usually causes a bit of "congestion" among the bees trying to get into the hive on spots where there is no opening anymore and them thus walking around the front of the hive looking for the entrance. After a few days they seem to have adjusted to it. So if you do the shaking and the narrowing at the same time youll have foreign bees and "lost" foragers at the same time looking for the entrance. Just my personal gut feeling though and it might not make any difference at all.

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12 hours ago, kaihoka said:

Does that work .

Most springs I spend a lot of time and effort looking for a virgin.

Not always. 

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Okay. Further inspection showed a new laying queen. What I think happened is the old queen failed and started laying lots of drones. The hive superceded her quick smart, but she was still laying for while longer yet. Well, sounds logical to me.

 

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