This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Laying Workers and how to prevent them

I know a beekeeper that had three packages turn to laying workers. Due to a work schedule and bad weather the beekeeper could not get out and check for queen acceptance. Unfortunately the queens did not take and the beekeeper was looking at cells filled with multiple eggs, the clear sign of laying workers. So the decision was made to requeen. The hives were now depleted of bees so the bees were going to be knocked down to a single hive. The beekeeper on a warm afternoon took all the bees about 100 feet away from the hive and shook all the bees on the ground. The bees that could fly, came back to where the hives were.  The laying workers cannot fly and were stranded out on the ground,
 A single hive was set up with empty drawn comb in a single box. After six hours a new queen with candy tube was introduced. The bees were on the comb when the queen was put in and a feeder pail was put on. After a week the bees were checked for queen acceptance and eureka, a new hive was born.
Photo by I don't remember the beekeepers name  Italian Queen on upper left of photo
Laying workers. Many eggs in cells. None fertilized. Spotty brood pattern

Whenever a hive has no brood, no queen, no eggs. The first thing a beekeeper should do is take a frame of eggs from another colony(if you have one) and shake the bees off and put the frame in a broodless hive.
  • Move a frame of eggs into a broodless hive. The presence of brood in a colony prevents laying workers. This buys time so a beekeeper can get a new queen. This method also answers some questions.
  • If a hive has swarmed and a beekeeper is unsure of this, a frame of eggs can help confirm this. The hive has no eggs maybe very little brood. Move a frame of fertilized eggs (not drone) into this colony. After four days a quick check of the frame. If there are queen cells, you have no queen. If there are no queen cells there is a queen in the hive, she has not started to lay yet. It is always better to purchase a new queen than to have the bees raise them.  A purchased queen starts laying in a week, it takes a made queen three weeks to start laying.
  •  Right now with the cold spring it may be After June 7th before a good queen can be made in Minnesota. Drone population are low at this time and need at least two more weeks before good mating can occur.