Tag Archives: workers

Do I have a laying worker and no queen? Part 1 – the Question.

21 Jun

I went out to look at my hive as soon as we got back from honeymoon expecting to see some building in the lower box on the hive.  It’s been nearly 3 months and there had been some action that looked like the beginnings of a bulge down there just before we left for the wedding:

The upper left is view into the bottom box that I thought was being worked on, the rest is upper box, some honey, some capped brood (although on second look, I think that’s all drone brood)….things looking really hopeful.  This was memorial day.

Three weeks later, still no action in the bottom box and combs that look almost…empty…in the upper box….no capped brood visible, no real major honey stores, and lots and lots of drones….or to my eye lots.  I took a video of the hive entrance – toward the middle you can start to see drones being pushed out or coming out, one after another after another.

You can also see one of the girls fanning her Nasanov glands.  I wonder that they should still be doing that after 3 months, but I don’t know enough to know.

If I have a laying worker – which all this could be a symptom of – the queen didn’t take after all and a hormonal gal just started filling in for her – unfortunately she’s only built to lay drone eggs, so lots of lazy dudes, no new industrious girls and a hive that’s doomed to failure unless I can appropriately intervene…..it’s a lot of pressure.

I contacted my teacher about my fears and he wants me to suit up, smoke ’em up, and open ’em up to see what I can see from the inside of the hive.  This will be my first time opening the hive, my first time lighting the smoker, and some real inexperience on the part of me in doing all this….so obviously, I’m going to try to make a video or at least take a bunch of pictures.   I’m not going to be able to get out there to do it until Saturday, so Part 2 will have to wait until then.

As far as I can tell, though, the best inervention method for this situation …if it is a situation… might mean getting a little creative.  I don’t have another hive from which I can “borrow” capped brood and some open eggs – which I’d need…and in a frameless hive, it’s not like I can stick in a lang frame with which to repair this – they won’t fit in my box – not so plug and play over here in warre land!  I think I’ll have to find someone willing to give or sell me some chunks of comb with brood on them and then attach them to the top bars in my warre box with a little creativity and some floral wire and hope that the bees accept them and then rear themselves a new queen.  If this sounds crazy to you….well…it is.

The one positive thing I can say from what I’ve observed is that they had a big Flight School day the other day -aka orientation flights.  I was out in the yard with the dogs and all of the sudden the hive got LOUD and when I looked up there were a TON of bees just flitting about around the hive.  Eventually they settled down and all went back in.  I thought they were swarming or worse! absconding! but I watched as they stayed quite close to the hive and did the characteristic circling motions and then seemed to all return to the hive – no dark beeline in the sky – just a happy little flying lesson.


Finally – visible action in the warre window.

5 May

There were a few weeks where I couldn’t go out and check on the girls – I was traveling, the weather was bad, that sort of thing – but last weekend I was able to finally see them!  They’re working on building out the box they’re supposed to be building out, phew.

They’re busily building building.  I haven’t seen the queen yet, although with this type of hive – obviously, you’re not doing frame inspection, so seeing her walking around would be pure luck and pretty darn unlikely.  I can’t wait until the comb is up against the windows and I can see what’s going into the cells.

The times I’ve peeked in since I took that picture, the comb has been so much more covered with bees, so that I can’t really see it.  Although the feeder was totally empty and dry that day, which means that more bees were out looking for food.  The times I’ve checked with the feeder fuller, the comb has been more covered.  I sort of can’t believe that they’re still sucking down the sugar syrup – but I’ve been told that building comb takes lots of energy – so maybe they will still for a while.



Maybe next time I go out there, I’ll video what’s going on.  I’ll be able to see again Monday.

Oh, also – got my first swarm call on Thursday.  I was super sad not to be able to go to it, I had a shoot in Nashua.  Apparently it was an afterswarm from the home owners’ hive – they’d rehived the first swarm but didn’t have the equipment to deal with this one.

Oh – I forgot – I saw a bee on the outside of my hive the other day that was a different color than I’m used to seeing – blacker all over.  I wonder if the bees being born from this queen are going to be a different color pattern or if it was another neighborhood bee stopping by to say – hi.  I can’t imagine they’d have let her sit there if she didn’t belong, though.

Hilariously, one of my neighbors (she lives downstairs and right after install, all of the dead/dying bees who didn’t transition well were turning up on her covered patio) said she saw my bees down at the corner store going through the trash.  She recognized them because they’re a different color than the feral bees that live down the street.  Girls, I’m feeding you good stuff!  Don’t go picking through the trash!

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