Laying workers problem, situation which most beekeepers face, sooner or later. Basic rule is that only Queen lays eggs in hive. But, if a beehive looses it’s Queen, and Honeybees don’t bring up new one, worker Honeybees will become active and start laying eggs. This happens due to the fact that there is no more Queeen’s pheromones which normally blocks workers/female Honeybees from laying eggs.
Since worker Honeybees are not fertilized, they can lay only male eggs/drones which do not harvest food. This of course does not benefit to the colony, but it leads to even faster depletion of food. Finally, it leads to death of whole colony. Furthermore, since now there are many of those who lay eggs instead of one, eggs get laid randomly. One cell will have multiple eggs, which is why this can be (but not exclusively) sign of lack of Queen in the hive. Multiple eggs per cell is also a sign of young Queen, which still didn’t get skillfully enough. Situation improves over time.
I digress. Back to the topic of laying workers problem. In the case of laying workers problem, the best solution is to put a fertilized Queen in their colony. She will automatically block the workers.
Solution to Laying Workers Problem
The problem of laying workers actually happened to one of my colonies several days before next great nectar harvest. When all additional Queen chambers were removed to prevent swarming and due to nearness of acacia season this seemed as the best solution. We opted for merging with other colony to get 1 very strong one. We done it in following way.
In location of Queenless colony (A), we placed colony which has Queen (B). This colony should be stronger in numbers.
Then we took supers of colony A 15 meters/50 feet away and shook it so all of they Honeybees would fly out. If you have ability to take them even further, do it.
Once they were allowed to enter, Queen of colony B blocked workers from laying eggs with her pheromone.
Automatically Honeybees returned to place where their hive was, but instead of theirs, there they found colony B. Of course, they recognized that it is not their home, so they stoped right there, on the outside of colony B. As usual in this situation, newcomers wait for the approval to come inside the new hive. You can see his process can on the following video.
Young Honeybees, which can’t fly are sadly lost in this process. On the other hand, at least you get one really strong and functional colony for the impending nectar season. If you want to save young ones too, make sure to put a sheet or something similar on the ground. In this way, you can just fold the sheets, and return them back to their colony.
Read about more tricks and practices in beekeeping at Beekeeping category of the blog.