Drone Laying Queen Colony – Combining Bee Colonies
After finishing the total hive inspection that was described in an earlier post (Drone Layer in The Hive ). I have reached the decision that I must have a drone laying queen in my hive.
This colony is doomed to fail. With only drones being produced, the colony will fail unless I help. There are 2 conditions that cause only drone brood to be produced: a drone laying queen and laying workers.
No Sign of Laying Workers
Laying workers develop after a queen problem. The queen and brood normally emit pheromones that help regulate colony life. After a period of time, a queen-less colony will develop laying workers.
A laying worker is a female bee that is not re-productively developed. Laying workers can only produce unfertilized eggs. They have never mated so any brood produced will be drone brood.
Laying workers have a tendency to lay more than one egg in each cell. It is also common to find eggs attached to the sides of cells.
I did not see any of that so I am “assuming” (you know what that means) that I have a drone laying queen.
Finding The Queen – It Isnt Always Easy
I have looked through the hive 3 times (frame by frame). I can not find a queen. But with no laying workers she may still be there or she has not been gone for very long.
On this day, the heat index was near 100° F. Sometimes even experienced beekeepers can not find the queen. It is time to move on and make some decisions.
My Colony With A Drone Laying Queen Is Doomed
When a queen fails and lays only drone (male) eggs, the colony can not make a new queen. Queens are females so a fertilized egg is necessary to produce a worker or queen bee.
Drones do no work as their sole purpose is to spread the genetic material of the colony by mating. No food is brought in, no babies are fed and the colony population will dwindle.
In time, there will not be enough bees left in the hive to sustain the colony. This is when the pests, such as, wax moths and Small Hive Beetles will move in. They are not the cause of the colony failure but they will finish the job.
The Drone Laying Queen Colony – It Still Has a Chance
Now we have my beehive to consider. Luckily, I have caught the problem in its early stages.
The population is a bit small for this time of year but viable. I realize the number of bees in the colony will begin to drop drastically very soon.
If I want to save the colony, I must intervene quickly. If your hive has a “drone laying queen” it is doomed without intervention.
Due to the extreme heat I am unable to be sure there is no old queen present. The best solution would be to find the failed queen and kill her. If I could find the queen and remove her, a mature mated queen could be introduced to the colony.
Without finding the queen, (see sometimes even Master Beekeepers cant find their queen) any queen I tried to place in the colony may be killed. I don’t want to take that risk emotionally or financially. (Queens aren’t cheap)
It’s Time To Combine My Bee Hives
I am going to combine another hive that has a good queen and brood with this colony.
IF the old drone laying queen is still present in the deep, there is a small chance she may kill the new colony queen.
But usually, the bees in the queen right colony will protect their own queen and kill the drone laying queen.
And my “gut feeling” (we beekeepers have those ) is that the old drone laying queen is already gone.
How to Combine My Drone Laying Queen Colony
I am working with 2 hives. They will be combined into 1.
- The bottom deep is the colony with the drone laying queen. I place a couple of sheets of newspaper lightly sprayed with sugar water on the top bars.
- The new deep with the small queen right colony sits on the newspaper. So I have 2 deeps in place.
- I want to leave my shallow super (that I will use for winter feed (from the drone layer colony) on the colony as well. So, I place a few more sheets of damp newspaper on top of the 2nd deep and finally the food super.
This leaves me with drone laying colony on the bottom, one queen right deep on top of that, and 1 shallow super (with some bees from the drone laying colony) on top.
In the next few days the bees will eat through the newspaper and work things out. We hope.
Bee Hive Inspection – Queen Check
The sheets of newspaper between the two deeps and under the top super will allow the 2 different bee families to slowly become introduced. This should result in less fighting and enable me to end up with one viable colony.
In a couple of weeks I will take the hive apart – condense all the good frames of brood, honey and pollen.
I will remove one of the deeps because I just don’t like to run 2 deeps. And I may not have a population large enough (right now) to cover all those frames.
I will replace the food super (shallow) on top to provide winter food for the colony.
This process requires some time, some work and a little luck. However, I will go into winter with 1 strong queen right colony instead of 2 small colonies. One of which was doomed to die with a possible drone laying queen.