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Author Topic: Drone outnumbering workers 10-1???  (Read 1366 times)
Harpo
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« on: October 23, 2012, 05:21:49 AM »

Hi guys,

got some hives from an elderly guy who finally conceded he wasn't up to the job of caring for them...

It had been nearly 7mths since they'd been looked at....

On inspection some boxes had dry rot, 2 hives were fully combed to the lid and joined between double supers and broods which was hell to clean up. I harvested the top supers then went back for the 2nd and was able to see how the brood boxes were.

One was fine with eggs,grubd and capped but the other had a handful of capped brood and what looked 90% drones - I'm thinking a re-queen is in order but the sheer no of drone have me daunted... I know normally the workers would deal with them but they seem outnumbered 10 to 1 and if they try to do that they'll wipe themselves out before I can get a new queen in there to boost the ranks...

I came up with the idea of adding an empty 3rd box with a queen excluder below and dumping box 2 into it... the workers would get through to below leaving the drones up top.... would make it a fairer fight...
would they eventually starve being unable to access food stores ( seems pretty mean ) I had a thought of trying to bag them and tossing them into a chest freezer?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!
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bernsad
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2012, 05:51:14 AM »

It sounds like you have a laying worker in the hive, she will only be laying drones because she has never been mated. As I understand it, it may be difficult to introduce a new queen as the workers get rid of her. Search the forums for laying workers to see what advice they offer.
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ShaneJ
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« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2012, 06:32:10 AM »

I currently have a hive exactly like this. The queen is either too old or wasn't mated properly. She manages to lay some fertilised eggs but they are mainly drones.
I would have though the works would take care of a queen like this but in my case they haven't. She'll get a pinch when this wind dies down.
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Shane
OzBuzz
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« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2012, 04:47:25 PM »

Sounds like a laying worker to me or, as mentioned, an improperly mated queen. Although drastic my initial thought would be to do the old 'conquer and divide' take the old box away from the original site and shake everything out on the ground. Put a box back in the original hives location and, as you brush down each brood frame, place it back in the box in the original location - the field bees and drones will return to the hive but 'hopefully' the laying worker/poorly mated queen wont... in any case have a good scour through the bees left to look for a queen. Make sure you then leave the original hive queenless for a period of time (4-6hrs) and then introduce a new queen
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bernsad
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« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2012, 09:19:51 PM »

Why would the laying worker not find her way home if the remainder of the hive can?
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prestonpaul
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« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2012, 09:48:50 PM »

I think the theory is they are too heavy to fly.
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If you can keep your head when all about you are loosing theirs, you probably don't fully understand the situation!
ShaneJ
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2012, 10:31:20 PM »

I thought it was because is they are so stupid to think they are a queen they are to stupid to find their way home  huh Smiley
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Shane
Harpo
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2012, 06:41:12 AM »

Ok I think I'll try the divide and conquer plus add a new queen... now usually if there are 2 they;ll seek each other out and the strongest will win... would a queen see a laying worker as a rival and deal with her OR would the layer return to being a worker?

I swear the lives of bees are better than Bol and the Beautiful!!! grin
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ShaneJ
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2012, 06:35:39 PM »

If you have a laying worker, the rest of the workers will think they have a queen so they will kill the new queen you introduce.
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Shane
Harpo
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2012, 07:02:41 PM »

HHmmmm okay  angry how do I spot a drone laying queen? I find it hard enough to see queens!!!! hissy fit
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ShaneJ
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2012, 10:17:56 PM »

What I have done in the past to remove a laying worker is what others have suggested. Shake every bee out in front of the hive. In 2 days do another inspection and look for new eggs. If no new eggs add a new queen or a frame or eggs and let them produce their own queen.
If you don't feel comfortable dumping all bees out of the hive, add a frame of eggs and hope that they produce a queen from them.
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Shane
Michael Bush
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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2012, 07:47:48 AM »

Laying workers can fly and will fly.  They also know their way back and will find their way back.  Shaking out will not get rid of them:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm

But, it sounds more like a drone laying queen, since it sounds like you have some worker brood (at least that's what it sounded like you were saying).  Some queens are just failing (running out of semen in the spermatheca) and they may lay a mixture but many drones until they totally run out.  Some mated late and lay nothing but drones.  Either way they probably won't make it at this point.  I would move the entire hive, shake out all the bees and put the boxes (without the bees) on other colonies.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
Harpo
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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2012, 06:15:21 AM »

Thanks for the honesty Michael - I may try a requeen but if it's fails I won't be too disheartened.
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