Drone Layer

May 28, 2006

Worried about the presence of drone cells and absence of worker cells a couple weeks back, I went into the hives to see what was up. As I feared, Hive 1 still had only drone cells. Fortunately, Hive 2 had a healthy laying of workers.

For comparison, take a look at the picture on the left and the picture in the middle. The picture on the left are Hive 1 drone cells, you can tell because they’re larger and bullet-shaped. You can even see some drones struggling to climb out into the world, just their heads emerging. The picture in the middle are worker cells from Hive 2, flat capped and a good, solid laying pattern. The picture on the right shows some eggs and larva (the little white lines, at the bottom of the cells on the right are eggs, the white grubs in the other cells are larva).
Beekeeping 2006 157 Beekeeping 2006 191 eggs

Julie had suggested that the problem might be a virgin queen, and that I should be able to tell the difference because a virgin queen would be more slender and move quicker. I found the queens in both hives and snapped some pictures, but I’m not sure I can really tell the difference. Hive 1’s queen is on the left, Hive 2’s on the right (look for the white dot).

virgin queen fertilequeen

Anyway, I called up Jim at Beez Neez and asked him what up. He apologized, said that I must have a drone layer (well, duh!) and that if I popped up there Tuesday, he’d give me a replacement queen.

Problem is, it’s already pretty deep into the laying season, so the bees that came with the original queen may be nearing the end of their lifespan, so there’s a danger there may be a population crash if the new queen can’t turn around a new generation fast enough. He recommended I swap over a frame of brood from Hive 2 to shore up Hive 1 in the meantime.

So that’s the plan for Tuesday: pick up new queen, kill old queen, swap in a frame of brood, crack a PBR and await fecundity.

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