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To Laying Worker Nuc, and Back Again


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Thanks for posting also. After some of your wisdom one of my Nucs had a cell that didn't hatch and now I think has a laying worker. There were some cells with 5 eggs or more but on the next frame they are laid as a normal single egg on bottom of cell. Have let them progress but now all are developing as drones in worker cells. Cells being extended for drone larva. My question is do I try another cell (grafted more on Sunday) or I will have a Queen from a mini nuc ready next week or do I combine with another QR Nuc. thanks Craig

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If you put a laying queen in it, it's almost a certainty the queen will be killed as soon as it gets out of the cage.

 

The 3 main options are:-

 

1. Put a queen cell in it

Downside - may, or may not, mate successfully

 

2. Put a comb of brood in it, a week later put another comb of brood in it, then a week later the laying workers should be suppressed and you can introduce a caged queen. Just check the combs you put in & kill any queen cells if there are any.

Downside - uses resources from another hive, plus the queen introduction is higher risk than a normal introduction.

 

3. Unite with another hive then split again later.

Downside, none really. To do a unite with a laying worker nuc, select a hive that has a normal laying queen, and more bees than the laying worker hive. Take the lid off it and put a queen excluder on top. Put the lw nuc in a super and put it straight on top of the queen excluder. Newspaper not needed. Leave completely alone for at least two weeks then remove the excluder and re-arrange the hive however you want it. If you want your nuc again just take some brood and bees from the hive and make a new nuc.

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Why is the news paper not needed?

Erin got it exactly right:-

I think because the bees will protect the queen - thats why you need to have more in the queen-right colony than the laying worker colony.

 

Just to add to that, when I was trained as a young guy, by Jasper Bray who I regard as one of NZ's most knowledgeable ever beekeepers, I was taught to use newspaper, and the amount varied depending on a number of circumstances.

 

However more recently, for combining LW hives, long as there's more bees in the queenright hive and the LW hive goes on top over an excluder, I've not used newspaper in a long time, and never had a failure.

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I don't always use newspaper, but I always give them plenty of smoke when I'm uniting anything.

Why do you put the queen right hive on the bottom? I've always put it on the top, but I suppose it makes sense to put it on the top, then the field bees can't get any trouble on the way in.

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My theory, and that's all it is, is that the queenright hive stays where it is & is disturbed as little as possible, feild bees can continue to come & go as normal, there is minimal disturbance.

I've watched the interaction between the 2 groups of bees by making a gap I can look through. Sometimes the LW hive will recognise there is a good queen there and immediately start nasanov fanning and troup down there straight away, accepting the queen. But the other reaction is they keep their distance, kind of banging into the other bees and then immediately withdrawing. In that case it will take time for the bees to mingle and that's why an excluder is needed so the queen won't accidentally wander into unfriendly bees. But either way, I think the absense of paper allows things to go more smoothly, the bees in the top box are not blocked in & panicking.

 

But that's just my conjecture, really, I don't know.

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Yeah I didn't really know why either. :D

The excluders not a bad idea!

I guess I don't much worry what goes where, unless the queenright hive is really weak and the queenless hive is strong, then I always put queenie up top. And smoke the bejesus out of it. Smoke just helps everything if u ask me

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  • 4 weeks later...

Interesting to see the different colours of bees in the photos.

 

Someone checked through the books to see if queen at the top was preferred to queen below and the result was a 50:50 split, so I don't worry which way around I unite. I unite towards dusk after the bees have returned.

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Oh yes, books. Well that all depends who wrote them.

 

It is not quite as simple as new queen botttom is as good as new queen on top, There are other factors to consider. So for example If you are uniting a weak queenright nuc to a strong queenless hive on the site where the queenless hive has been, putting the weak nuc on the bottom is quite possible suicide for the queen. You'll get all the feild bees returning to the bottom who may just ball the queen, better to have the weak nuc on the top out of the way from them. But if moving a weak or medium queenless hive to the site of a stronger queenright one, the queenright one should be left on the bottom.

 

If you judge it wrong, but there is a honey flow on, the bees will be more forgiving of your mistake, than if there is no flow on.

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Alastair,

I don't disagree with anything you've written. Evening unites makes things easier as they are together by the morning before they fly so you don't get the flyers from a big hive piling into the small nuc in the same way as a daytime unite. If you can't do that, then as you say you need to consider protecting the queen. So far, with fingers crossed, I've never had a problem uniting with newspaper.

 

Oh! for a good honeyflow! :) :)

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Didn't see any dissagreement. :)

 

Just making a comment about books. For me, I once worked in an outfit that routinely two queened hives and each year we did thousands of newspaper combines, virtually without a loss. So I do understand something of using newspaper to do a combine. I now tend to go with what I've seen work, than what I read in a book. If you look long enough you'll find a book to tell you anything.

 

Wether a combine is done morning or evening, you need to keep those feild bees from the queenless hive, away from the queen for the initial 24 hours at least, particularly if they outnumber the other bees.

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"we did thousands of newspaper combines, virtually without a loss. So I do understand something of using newspaper to do a combine"

 

I bow to your greater experience! :)

 

I've not had experience of wrestling with a pig either!:lol

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Update: My laying worker Nuc, I was going to combine as per option 3 of Alastair advice but for experience tried option 1 first. Put QC in, result cell torn down, on to option 2, first frame of brood at all stages put it, no change. Next week put another frame of brood in this time they started QC so I left them in. Didn't have a spare mated queen so didn't try that option. Result QC hatched, has now mated and is laying. Drones have chomped through most of the stores with little added due to low worker bee numbers so will have to watch they don't starve. Has taken a while but we got to mated queen.

thanks again Alastair.

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That's excellent Craig, dealing with laying worker colonies is definately in the "more advanced" beekeeping catagory, so you are getting up there! :)

 

And the primary thing, is that you understood what was going on and why, so it demystifies beekeeping and enables a person to problem solve in a logical manner.

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