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What to do with a laying worker hive?


Wildflower
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the laying worker is not "like" a worker bee, she IS a worker bee.

Generally the reason she can kill a queen is that she is not alone, most laying worker hives will have hundreds of worker laing eggs. That is why there are so many eggs.. 

Better to think of it as laying workers not laying worker.

 

Normal procedure, already explained above by Dansar. Move the hive ~20m away, shake off all the bees. Take the hive without a single bee in it (using new boxes for the frames if you have to) back to exactly where it was before. The foragers will return to the hive in the known spot. However the laying workers have never been foragers so they don't know their way back to the hive. 

Now you can add a mated queen. Adding a cell or eggs might not work out because the bees will be getting quite old and you need new brood fast. Maybe you can also add some capped brood to the hive or combine this with another hive to help tide them over. 

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6 hours ago, tudor said:

Another method which I have used successfully is to turn off the laying workers by giving a series of frames with open brood which produces a pheromone with the required effect. One a week until workers stop laying (usually 2-3 doses) and it boosts the hive with brood as it hatches, then give a cell or queen when it is safe, or combine with a queen right hive.

This does take time and uses resources, but very interesting for a hobby beekeeper.

 

This method is talked about a lot on our side of the world.  I tell folks it's a waste of time and brood.  Instead of wasting 3 brood frames and 3 weeks on a laying worker, put those 3 frames in a nuc box together.  Now you have a viable colony which can either raise a queen, or you can introduce one.  Shake out the laying worker colony and put the box away leaving it's spot empty, use some of the drawn frames to finish populating the box you put the new nuc in.  the bees you shook out will beg their way into any other colonies in the area.

 

This method uses the same amount of resources, but gets you to the finish line 3 weeks quicker, and is not prone to failure the way the 'frame of brood once a week' method is.  If you do the once a week method, it often takes 3 weeks before the bees start a cell, if they start a cell, then it's 4 weeks till you have a laying queen.  There wont be much left of that colony by then, and it'll be a struggle to get it built to an acceptable state by end of season.

 

An alternative that works well too, specifically for those folks adverse to shaking out a colony.  Newspaper combine the LW colony with a very strong queenright colony.  Use a few layers of paper so it takes a couple days for them to work thru and get mingling.  Queen will move up and lay up the box you added.  After the 3 weeks mentioned above, split the resulting colony.  Standard thoughts from there, let one part raise a queen, or introduce a mated queen to the queenless part.  With this method, you do end up with a reasonable size split, not one withering away.

 

 

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When I have weak lw colony, I do shake out. But if I have decent lw, I give bf rather than shakeout. Less work and easier for me to do so. So far it was sufficient 2x bf to they return into normal. This way I don't have to take hive some 50 meters away, brush/shake all the frames, fork all the drone brood, think where all the surplus frames to " stick" or fear if stored wax moth will destroy. A lot here merged with newspaper and almost always they lost their queen, as they claimed to me. I never tried by myself, easier to learn by other's mistakes, than my own. 

The loss of few bf from other colonies is unnoticeable. Especially in my conditions, my place after my main forage - black locust I can divide easily each normal colony in 4 splits and have them for next season in full strength. But due to market for colonies doesn't exist here, they are worthless. Almost same was for the honey, but " luckily" due to climate changes there is less and less honey and prices are less bad than they were..

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In any given year I see quite a few drone layers and partial drone layers along with plenty of queenless hives. I have seen what I believed to be laying worker's but in my hives anyway they are very very uncommon and I literally can't remember when I saw my last one. I doubt if I would see one every five years.. They do exist but the vast majority of supposed laying worker's are just drone layers which are often are a lot harder to find than a good laying Queen. When I do find one I tend to  load it up with frames of brood and young bees and sooner or later it will usually come right .

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2 hours ago, Goran said:

The loss of few bf from other colonies is unnoticeable. 

I do not have a confirmed laying worker hive,but it was suggested by Alistair that this may be the direction that my troubles are going.

Due to two virgin Queens not returning

( also not 100% confirmed yet but because of weather and long absence of eggs,likely)

My supplies are low. Only Two laying Queens. So each frame of brood is precious. I would love it if he loss of a bf from other colonies was unnoticeable but thats not the case for me at the moment.

The 50 meter move and shake sounds horrid( both for me and bees?)

A nuc would be hard due to supplies.

I added a frame of brood and larvae last week, so just two  more to go.  if they don't attempt to make cell this week,it may seem that is the direction I will have to go.

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24 minutes ago, john berry said:

 I have seen what I believed to be laying worker's but in my hives anyway they are very very uncommon and I literally can't remember when I saw my last one. I doubt if I would see one every five years.

I had a laying worker/workers

(so I was told) exactly 5 years ago when I first started beekeeping. My diagnosis on this hive is not complete. It was a suggestion from Alastair. I am basically studying up just in case. It is good to hear that is is uncommon. Although I have got to the 5 yr mark!???

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32 minutes ago, john berry said:

When I do find one I tend to  load it up with frames of brood and young bees and sooner or later it will usually come right .

As long as my 2 Queens can keep laying enough for me to steal from,I will keep adding bf

So glad it is early in the season. ?

Guess my friends might not be getting much honey this year!

Who knows? My two virgin Queens might return and this hive might come right, and next thing you know I have buckets of honey again. Ironically, I don't eat huge amounts of honey. It is just the bees I like.?

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If I add in turns 2 bf with open brood and still no qcells started, there must be some queen inside. That is my thinking, doesn't have to be correct..

If other hives are not so strong, I would not take brood from them. I would just shake out and move on. The hives from which I take bf are usually 10+ with bf.

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On 30/11/2020 at 8:26 AM, Wildflower said:

As long as my 2 Queens can keep laying enough for me to steal from,I will keep adding bf

So glad it is early in the season. ?

Guess my friends might not be getting much honey this year!

Who knows? My two virgin Queens might return and this hive might come right, and next thing you know I have buckets of honey again. Ironically, I don't eat huge amounts of honey. It is just the bees I like.?

If adding bf, it's best to pick frames with mostly or only eggs, that way the donor colony has not had to use resources to care for them and swapping with an empty frame means she can lay straight away and replace it.

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On 5/12/2020 at 8:37 AM, Philippa Thomas said:

If adding bf, it's best to pick frames with mostly or only eggs, that way the donor colony has not had to use resources to care for them and swapping with an empty frame means she can lay straight away and replace it.

Agree. ?

And I have spare drawn comb. ?

 

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