Tuesday, August 30, 2016

June 12, 2016: No Queen?!


One of my hives has no queen! OH NO!

Earlier this spring I made two "splits", or new hives, out of queen cells I found in my one winter-surviving hive. One of the splits has thrived, and is already growing and storing honey and pollen at a remarkable rate. The other one...looks weird.

I did some research and investigation, and determined that the hive has no queen: the queen cells I put in that box must not have hatched, or the queens weren't viable for whatever reason. This means that the workers in that box have begun to lay eggs themselves. There are a few ways to tell that this is what's up: the brood pattern is all scattershot, there are multiple eggs in brood cells, and there are eggs layed on top of pollen. Wacky.

In a way, this is very cool. The workers can only produce uninseminated eggs, which will become (male) drones. They can't produce (female) workers. But their instinct to lay and produce those drones constitutes a last-ditch effort to continue their genetic line: those drones would eventually fly out and mate with queens from other hives. Smart.

There are a few ways to deal with this, many of which don't work or which mean just junking this hive. I'm doing what feels quite experimental to me, but is actually a tried-and-true method. For 4 weeks, once a week, I'll move a frame of brood from one of my stronger hives over into this laying worker hive. The pheromones from the open brood suppress the instinct to lay, and after 2-3 weeks the workers should start trying to turn some of these brood cells into queen cells. Cross your fingers for me!

Here's what the weirdo laying worker brood frames look like:

No comments:

Post a Comment