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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yesterday I went into my hives with my class in the master beekeepers program so that I could give them their practical test. Before we even started, I spotted a swarm in my annually-catches-a-swarm wax myrtle. Although it was no suprise, I was not prepared, so the class and I put together a deep box to hive them in. They watched with fascination at the process. The swarm, about volley ball size with about a three-foot trail running down the branch, dropped obediently into the box and onto the sheet beneath and immediately started fanning at the entrance. In less than a half hour, I was able to put in the rest of the frames and put a lid on the box. I closed up the front with a "front door" last night after all was quiet.

Once into the test, we found that the hive I was hoping had a virgin queen was now in laying worker mode. So. . .

Today I moved the laying worker hive to the other side of my property (about 80 yards), separated the boxes and left them there without brushing them off. I put the swarm box where the laying worker hive used to be. Rationale: I will leave the laying worker hive overnight. Foragers will be gone and hopefully the laying workers will have died. If not, I'll brush them off, retrieve the boxes and freeze the frames from the two brood boxes (unless I immediately need them for another swarm!) and immediately give the box full of nectar to the swarm.

I'm trying to do it the easiest, laziest, quickest way because it's Holy Week and I have an entire house to clean for Easter. To us Italians that means, down with the drapes, up with the sheers, out with the wool rugs, in with the sisal. Walls, baseboards, floors, windows washed. Lots of work. Next week I intend to give more attention to my girls and finally split those boxes which, now, have queen cells all over the place. I know, I know, they're gonna swarm. Just hoping they'll hold out until next week. Of course, you know this means I'll be hiving swarms on Easter Sunday!
 

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Why not try to give the laying workers a frame or two of eggs? It might take a try or three scattered a few weeks apart, but when we've tried it they reared a queen and turned back into a productive hive.

I envy your swarms! We've caught a couple, but would love to catch a LOT.
 

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Sounds like you did well. I would go out and shake the frames free and put them away, waiting for a swarm.
Trying to save a laying worker hive is more work than adding hives in other ways. Just not worth the trouble.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, Iddee. Mama Beek is the second person to tell me that if you give them a frame of eggs they'll raise a queen, but I was always told that they would not raise a queen since they think they already have a queen! Apparently, it does work, but I, like you, think it sounds like a lot of work.

Just did a recon and no swarms. . .yet. I'm truly expecting them, so I'm checking the usual spots a couple of times a day.
 

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Yes, it does work, but not always the first time. Sometimes you have to give them a frame a week for 3 or 4 weeks. It's just a lot harder than combining and then making a split.
 

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sounds like your actions were proper and it did provide a unique learning moment for the students. such occasions make you think on your feet.

giving them a frame of mixed brood accomplishes two things... first it get the younger worker population back into brood rearing mode (feeding and attending brood) and secondly the hatching brood gets younger bees back into the population. I think more than anything else adding brood at appropriate time intervals (as Iddee suggest) brings the population dynamics back into balance.
 

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I've had to deal with a number of laying worker hives last year due to my amazing ability to accidentally smash or otherwise lose queens... and Iddee's right about it being too much work to save them... the amount you'll weaken your other good colonies by taking frames of eggs from them isn't worth it. Neither is doing a newspaper combine and having the laying workers ball your good queen (yeah, that happened, too). That's why shaking them out is best.
 

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for myself when I find laying worker I simply knock (shake<why is it called shaking bees???) them out on the ground, add the equipment to an existing strong hive and start over.

this is not to suggest Tia that your action was improper in any way since what I do is somewhat driven by whether I am willing to give one hive that much time and attention. I would never waste a purchased queen on such a hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, tecumseh, that's kind of what I did except I took them to the other side of the property to shake them out. The brood and medium will await another swarm; the box full of nectar I gave to this swarm!
 

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Sorry Tia I took from your earlier comments that you had simply moved the hive and were attempting to revive the hive via some kind of intervention.
 

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I thought it was great that the class had an opportunity to watch while you retrieved a swarm. When we did our first swarm collection, all I had were instructions from a sheet of paper. I envy the students!

Sounds like everyone has chimed in with great advice, so I will let it rest.
 
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