Hens Aren’t The Only Laying Workers In This Chicken Run

I opened my aunts hives up (the bees I purchased this year) and found that their population was not increasing as I had hoped. I decided to risk fracturing the comb and cut it from the walls of the box to take it out and look at it. There were no eggs present except for in the drone cells. Honey stores were minimal, but there was lots of pollen. I found 2 supercedure cells, though where they think they’re getting viable eggs I don’t know. I also found an egg on the side of a cell. I’m hugely disappointed by this, but with a colony next door that’s got a functional queen I’m hoping I can combine the two hives and have one make it successfully through the winter. The laying workers certainly won’t make it on their own and the colony from last year is so behind I don’t know that it will ever get to where it needs to be come winter. Having an out apiary is really difficult, and having different hives makes it even more so.

Correcting laying workers is supposed to be impossible, but I’ve found a few sources that say that if you shake the entire colony out 100+yards away from the hives normal location, the returning workers should be mostly normal. They also say that if you don’t put the hive boxes back the bees will fly to the nearest hive and take up residence with the colony already there. I’m planning on using this technique to combine my hives and get rid of the laying workers. Success rates are low, and because the colony that has a queen is so small the chances of this working out are even less likely. But I’m going to try it because if I don’t both colonies are dead anyway.

I’m so tired of feeling like a failure of a beekeeper. It shouldn’t be this hard!

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6 responses to “Hens Aren’t The Only Laying Workers In This Chicken Run”

  1. deweysanchez says :

    A lot of good advice here:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
    One of my hives has been queenless for a month now following a split. There was a failed queen superceded and at least two swarms from the hive. On a check at the weekend the hive was hopelessly queenless and there was possible evidence of a laying worker. It may have been drone brood left from the failed queen but I am not sure. I robbed a frame of eggs from the hive next door http://augustcottageapiary.wordpress.com/ hopefully this will give them another chance. I may need to give them a few frames of emerging brood to keep things ticking over. I have felt like a failure myself on this as it is the only “hive management” or actual beekeeping I have attempted. Everything else has just been building boxes and housing swarms. Best of luck.

    • willowbatel says :

      Thanks for the resources! I’m just not quite sure what to do so I’m kind of just watching and waiting to see how things develop. There are eggs scattered around the hive and a few queen cells with brood several days old in them. I’ll check in next week to see what they make of things. I think combing colonies is going to end up being the best bet, but the colony I want to combine them with isn’t as strong as the laying worker colony. So waiting really kind of is the best option unfortunately, I think.
      I’ll definitely check out your links though! Thanks!

  2. Emily Heath says :

    I’ve read that shaking the laying workers out away from the hives is a good idea too. Good luck.

    • willowbatel says :

      Do you think I should shake them out even if they’re making a new queen? Or appear to be making a new queen anyway. I would add a frame of brood but I can’t because my strongest colony is in a different hive style so none of the pieces would fit.

      • Emily Heath says :

        Are the supersedure cells capped? It would take about 2-3 weeks after the new queen emerges for her to start laying, so it’s quite a while without new bees being born, especially as you say the population is low already.

        • willowbatel says :

          I’m going to check on them tomorrow. I haven’t had time to go out and look at them this last week. The cells were large enough that they looked as though they were a day or two away from being capped, but we’ll see what they look like tomorrow.

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