Laying worker, new queen, or both?

Following on yesterday’s post about laying workers, I thought I should add this important caveat.  If you have a new queen (from a split which was given a young caged queen, for example), you may occasionally find multiple eggs in a few cells.  If you are sure you have a young queen (you’ve seen her), then don’t destroy the hive in the way you’d handle an actual laying worker hive.

Check that the young queen is present and eggs are attached to cell bottoms, not on cell sides. My friend Robert McBain of Worker and Hive Bee Supply sent this photo. He told me that it’s from a hive with a new queen, not a hive completely over-run by laying workers.  He’s probably right.

I used to see the occasional multi-egged cells in mating nucs when I was raising queens. I don’t know if the odd laying worker was active in the nuc (there are always many laying workers present, even in queen-right colonies), or if it was simply the work of a young queen still learning how to count to ‘one’ – either way, the issue always cleared up in a week and the new queen did just fine.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a geophysicist who also does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has written two books, dozens of magazine and journal articles, and complements his first book, Bad Beekeeping, with a popular blog at www.badbeekeepingblog.com. Ron wrote his most recent book, The Mountain Mystery, for everyone who has looked at a mountain and wondered what miracles of nature set it upon the landscape. For more about Ron, including some cool pictures taken when he was a teenager, please check Ron's site: miksha.com.
This entry was posted in Bee Biology, Beekeeping, Queens and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Laying worker, new queen, or both?

  1. Phillip says:

    Good point. I was going to chime in about this possibility on your last post. I’ve seen multiple eggs in a cell from newly-introduced mated queens a few times. I thought I had a laying worker the first time I saw it, but it was just the new queen a little out of sorts as she was getting used to her new home, just like you said.

    I wonder, though, what happens to the multi-egg cells laid by queens, not laying workers. If the eggs in the cell have the queen’s pheromones on them, are they left alone, or are they destroyed by the workers? My guess is they’re left alone. How does an multi-egg cell even develop?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too have seen that in her first few days on the job, new queens often have this crazy egg laying pattern. It clears up quickly. As for laying worker hives, I get my best results remediating them when I newspaper on a good stuffed nuc of bees with a strong queen producing lots of brood.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. valbjerke says:

    Good heads up – I did my first split a week ago. Couldn’t find the queen – checked four days later – she’s in the split, lots of eggs. The parent hive busy with queen cells. Fingers are crossed – and now I won’t panic if I find multiple eggs when I think the new queen might have started laying. The bees certainly keep me on my toes.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Emily Scott says:

    I’ve seen the same thing with a new queen this week. Probably happens more than we realise.

    Liked by 1 person

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