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Laying worker advice needed

 
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Trip
Foraging Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2010
Posts: 127
Location: USA, New York, Westchester

PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 8:47 pm    Post subject: Laying worker advice needed Reply with quote

I have two hives one with a laying worker. Both hives were started with packages in early June. In one hive something happened to the queen and my attempt to requeen was too late. The laying worker kept the hive from accepting the new queen and at this point the hive has started to dwindle.

I have decided to combine this hive with the second hive which is going strong and has a laying queen who seems to be in tip top shape (lots of brood/good laying pattern).

This is the first time I have had to deal with this kind of situation and my question is what is your opinion on the best method to combine? I have read about a couple different options. The first is to shake all the bees on the ground in front of the queen right hive, put the beeless top bars in the queenright hive, and take away the empty hive. The second option I have read about is to put the combs with bees into the queenright hive and do a newspaper combine.

Any feedback on best practices or experiences with either method? Also should I try and cut out the drone brood from the top bars from the hive with the laying worker or just leave it bee?

My goal would be to split the hive later in the summer if all goes well.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Trip
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Neither of the two methods will work. Because if laying workers get into the other hive, the queen will be in great danger.

Better shake off all bees some distance away - laying worker can't fly. Melt the wax and insert fresh foundation.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shake them out a distance away and the workers will beg their way into the good hive. The laying workers will be too fat to fly into the hive and will be left behind.

Godd luck
Rob.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before you shake them out, remove old hive and bottom and stand and all. Or the loose bees will cluster there, if there is anything that reminds them of their old home. So clean up the place, then shake.
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DrMartin
House Bee


Joined: 29 Jun 2015
Posts: 19
Location: Cambridge

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Probably the pheromones in the queenright hive will suppress laying workers so your ideas are good. Bees do nothing invariably so there is a small risk to your queen if you do that. Shake them all out, remove the old hive and put any good comb into the other hive. Laying working mess up nice comb with cells enlarged in a hotch-potch way to accommodate drones so if there's any comb like this it's not worth keeping.

There are likely be a lot (possible hundreds or thousands) of laying workers (not just one) and, contrary to popular belief, they can fly.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the benefit of tipping them out away from the hive site is if they are nurse bees from an established colony that have never done orientation flights they therefore don't recognise home and cannot make it back if they are able to fly. I can't say for sure if they can fly or not but I find it unlikely that there will be hundreds/thousands of them. The times I have dealt with it, I have had one or two left on the sheet that I have shaken them out onto, but I cannot say for certain if there were others that flew away.

I don't think it does any harm to brush them off some distance away. You need to cut out the drone brood from the comb anyway and dispose of it so you are going to have to brush them off. Might as well follow the protocol and do so some distance from the site rather than over the hive which may result in standing in the midst of two lots of angry bees instead of dealing with just one colony.

I recently did it by removing the problem hive to a remote location 40 yards away and placing an empty hive at the old site. The foraging bees return to the old site and start congregating in/on the new hive , so they are out of your way which makes the job a lot easier. You can then brush/shake the remaining bees off the comb and cut off any brood but retain any comb with honey and nectar. I then placed the comb into the new hive and requeened but your package bees will be getting old and probably beyond starting again, so you could wait until they cluster in the new hive in the evening, dust them with icing sugar and tip them into the recipient hive, obscure the entrance to encourage reorientation and remove all fixtures from the old location. Then give them the salvaged combs a few days later.
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi - if you had a laying worker situation in an immoveable hTBH hive, is there any alternative method ? Is it worth attempting to empty the whole hive into nuc style boxes and performing that process, or does the logistics of returning foragers just make it unworkable ?
Also at what point does the presence of a laying worker doom the hive - on a post you made last year Barbara, you had all the signs but then your hive self-righted ?

Thanks.

Also - is there any text / posts discussing the reasons/conditions a laying worker develops as opposed to replacing the missing/dead/ailing queen ? It must be a colony decision ?
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mal

A hive will develop laying worker(s) when there is no queen pheromone or brood pheromone. I believe these chemicals supress the workers ovaries from developing. Once there is an absence of them, the workers ovaries start to come into action. Usually these will be young nurse bees which I suppose are in the thick of the brood nest and will therefore be susceptible to this chemical change and of course being young their bodies are perhaps more able to adapt. I would imagine once one or two start laying the new brood will suppress others from developing.

I'm not sure which of my posts from last year you are referring to but the laying worker scenario I dealt with last year had to be shaken out twice and then requeened and by that time they were too weak and the hive(not mine) turned out not to be wasp proof, so that when I went back a week or so later, although they had accepted the new queen, they were all but wiped out by wasps. The reason we had to shake them out twice was that the first time we just removed the combs from the hive(as you are suggesting) and obviously didn't get all the laying workers. The second (successful) attempt we moved the whole hive and replaced it with a new empty one.

As far as I am aware there is no coming back from a laying worker without removal and requeening. The worker(s) can only produce drones and obviously the colony cannot survive without workers. The workers die off quite rapidly as they are usually several weeks old by the time laying workers develop so it's only a matter of a few more weeks before they peter out.

I hope that explains it so you can understand it.

What makes you think you have laying workers? Have you seen bobbly (mini drone) brood in the worker brood comb?
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Barbara -
I'm not sure I have a laying worker at all - but I last checked my hives a couple of weeks ago and noted a drone cell pepper pot pattern, and now reading this post is making me wish I'd done a more conscious/active thought process around what I was looking at.
Hopefully I am a little more educated as to what my possible actions would be if next time I inspect there is indeed a laying worker. Though I really don't think I could move the hive so it would have to be a move all the combs in nuc boxes, and then thoroughly sweep out the hive.

Regards re-queening : Once the removal of laying workers has taken place, does it have to be a queen, or could you use a comb from another hive with capped queen cell. Or could you even put in uncapped larvae from another hive - and then with or without nurse bees ?

The post I was referring to where you saw signs of a laying worker but it self-righted was http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=106200

Thanks for your responses Barbara - I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates the amount of time you spend mentoring !
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahh, that post!

The thing with that one was that I thought I might have a laying worker because I saw multiple eggs in cells.... which can be a sign of it... and of course it was a long time since it had swarmed..... so I was fearing the worst. In fact, I was mistaken in assuming that. I didn't see any bobbly brood in worker cells which is the proof of the pudding with laying workers, just multiple eggs, which it appears was down to a novice queen who didn't quite have her act together.... maybe a bit like pullets when they first come into lay, and produce double yolked eggs.

Once you see the mini drones developing in the worker cells, then you know for sure you have a laying worker and you need to take action.

My point in that post, as in this one, is to be sure you have laying worker(s) before you take action, because it's a lot of work and expense (if you have to buy a new queen) for you and a tremendous amount of upheaval for the colony, so not to be undertaken without being sure.

The difference between knowing you have one and worrying you might have one is huge. Pleased to hear that you are just at the worrying stage.... but try not to. Before you do your next inspection, make sure you know what the bobbly laying worker brood looks like so that you can make an informed decision or go equipped with a camera, so that you can photograph anything you are concerned about.

Regards

Barbara

PS. Thanks for your comment of appreciation. I do put a lot of time into my replies, so it's nice to know that people find them helpful.
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Trip
Foraging Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2010
Posts: 127
Location: USA, New York, Westchester

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for you input.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did a little bit on laying workers on my blog a while back. Not too happy with the post but it covers some of the ideas.

http://wp.me/p4pfAZ-7K
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Trip
Foraging Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2010
Posts: 127
Location: USA, New York, Westchester

PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An update.

After reading the feedback to my question I decided not to combine. I managed to get a new queen and put it into the hive after dumping the bees out about 50 yards away and behind a building. I then added two frames of comb with brood from the strong hive and cut out all the drone brood.

Now about 3 weeks later the hive is still alive, while the total population has shrunk to a small size there is plenty of new brood and they have even started building a new comb which I take to be a very positive sign.

Fingers crossed they continue to have good weather and can build up strongly in the advance of winter.

Thanks again for your input.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations! That sounds like a good result.

You probably need to feed them if you are not already doing so and keep the entrance reduced to a minimum and a close eye out for robbing as they will be vulnerable for some time, but building comb is definitely good news.

Good luck with building them up.

Barbara
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting method which is worth filing away in my mind.

Cheers
Rob.
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