Monday, March 22, 2010

Uh Oh!

I was looking over the pictures I took yesterday, and examined this frame from the brown hive:

I was looking at some of the cells, and it looks like there are more than one egg in some / most of the cells. This is not good - it is the sign of a laying worker. A laying worker occurs when a hive becomes queenless, and one of the workers (which are female, but not sexually mature) all of a sudden decides to start laying eggs. Since the layer has never mated, the eggs will hatch to become drones, and the hive is doomed.

It is difficult to re-introduce a queen to a laying worker hive, since the hive thinks they have a queen, and will reject the new queen. There are some techniques to employ to try to recover a laying worker hive, but they are difficult.

I'll have to do some research to see if I can save this hive.

This also may explain why I didn't see the queen, as the laying worker is visually identical to all the other non-laying workers...


  1. Ugh! I had a laying worker in my first year and it is really tricky to get them to accept a new queen. I feel for you ... I really do!

  2. Oh- i am sorry! That is one of my biggest fears.

  3. Hello Steven,

    I follow your blog in Reader and this image piqued my interest.

    I was inspecting hives last weekend and saw a similar site. It was only in one cell; that I saw anyway. Little tubes at the bottom like in your image. But the frame was loaded with eggs, larva, royal jelly & pupae. So I assumed it was pollen the bees had rolled up for whatever reason. Mainly because it didn't look like the other eggs in color or texture. Also that colony is VERY strong with a queen i saw that day.

    I wear reading glasses and can only look at the image you have here. They look less like white eggs and more like dull pollen but you would know better.

    Here's hoping you have a problem free Spring. Or at least something easy to fix.

  4. I have to admit that Hemlock has a point. Of course, I know you're looking right at the frame, Steven, so I yield to what you saw in the frames. But to me it looks like an egg and pollen in the frames. But if you do have a laying worker, I hear the only sure fire method is to shake all the bees out of the hive and start over. I think I read that the laying worker won't fly so you can get rid of her that way.

  5. You could be right; it could be pollen, etc. When I was inspecting the frame, nothing jumped out at me as being odd, and I think I would have noticed double eggs at the time of the inspection.


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