General hive management issues


4 responses to “General hive management issues

  1. Phil
    I have a super of honey that had wax moths last year. Will it contaminate my hives if the bees get into it and how should i handle this super? It was stored over winter in my bee building.

    • Janis

      Nothing in it that will hurt the bees. Comb in frames that are in not too bad of shape will be repaired by the bees and re-used. Comb in real bad condition should discarded or be scrapped clean (that is all that is needed) and new foundation installed.


  2. One of my hives is very weak. Producing very little brood but tons of drone cells. Probably 15 open queen cells but cannot find any queens, one queen cell not open at this time.
    Can someone tell me what is going on and what do I need to do.


    • Ray

      The presence of only drone brood in a hive is a likely sign of a “drone laying queen” or possibly laying workers.

      You may have a queen who has run out of sperm, so she is laying only drone eggs. Beekeepers often call them “drone layers”. With both laying workers and a queen that has run “dry”, you get only drone eggs. But if you’re seeing the queen, you probably do not have laying workers.

      Laying workers is a condition that can develop in a hive after it becomes hopelessly queenless, when some of the workers respond to the lack of queen and brood pheromones by starting to lay eggs. Workers cannot mate, so when the do lay, the result is the same as when a queen runs out of stored sperm – nothing but drone brood. Though workers are always capable of laying eggs, their urge to do so is suppressed by the pheromones present in a normal hive. Since brood pheromone plays a role in the suppression as well as pheromones from the queen, it takes several weeks for laying workers to develop even after the queen is gone. We can postpone this behavior by moving a frame or two of capped brood into a hive that has been queenless for a long period.

      To help determine whether you have laying workers or a queen that has run out of sperm when you don’t see the queen and are finding only drone eggs, here is what to look for:

      Laying workers: Only drone brood in the hive, and seen in worker sized cells; multiple eggs in a cell (always more than one laying worker in hive, so more than one of them may lay in a cell); the drone brood is scattered (they miss cells). The workers do not have the instinct to lay in every cell and to position the eggs properly.

      Drone laying queen: Drone brood only, and seen in worker size cells; not scattered and no multiple eggs in cells. The queen is laying, just laying unfertilized eggs.

      Drone laying queens should be destroyed and the hive re-queened. However, laying worker hives are virtually impossible to re-queen, since the bees behave as if they have a queen and reject queens that are introduced. My suggestion is to always combine laying worker hives with another hive that has a queen, or with a nuc.


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