Drone laying queens

Management of honey
by Dana Stahlman
What it takes to succeed after bees are placed in hives from
packages, nucs, swarms
The role a good Queen Plays in
your success keeping bees.
Sitting in a little house outside Pineview, Georgia I
had a chance to reflect on a subject that has special
appeal to me.
I have always been interested in raising queens and
have been for the most part involved in finding a
better queen for most of my life. Queens have
always been a topic of interest since the Italian
Queen was imported into the United States first in
1859 and was followed by successful introduction to
most beekeepers by the 1870’s. It was highly
sought after because it differed greatly from the
Black bee often called German Black, or Dutch Black.
Better Queens – a quest
The German Black bee was not native to the U.S. It was
brought by early colonist and we still are not sure of the first
ship’s name that delivered the first hive of European bees into
the new world. It did occur in the early 1600’s.
This bee had some characteristics that are responsible for its
general decline and absence from many areas of the U.S.
#1 It was black and the queen
was hard to find.
#2 It was nasty – defensive and
hard to work.
#3 It ran on the frames when
frames were exposed to light and
bees often dropped from frames.
It did produce great
white cappings which
were appreciated by
those selling comb
What is a perfect queen bee?
Moving ahead to today. We are still looking for a
perfect queen. A new beekeeper may find it
attractive to read bee magazines and find a queen
described. It takes awhile to discover that not all
queens are adapted to the area where you live.
A beekeeper in Northern Georgia might just rave about
Russians. A beekeeper in Southern Georgia might just rave
about Cordovan. A beekeeper from Ohio may rave about
Carniolan. And the packages you buy will most likely have
Italian queens.
Being a beekeeper means you need to find out
from experience which breed of honey bee does
best for you. Forget all the hype.
A hive of honey bees is
made up of three types
of individuals. Each is
important to the
survival of the hive.
The queen is most
important for the
success of your hive of
A queen usually lives for several years. Some
bee books will indicate up to five years but in the
modern day she might need to be replaced much
earlier or the colony may die as a unit well before
she would die naturally.
A queen is an egg laying machine.
A hive of honey bees is a social 
unit and the queen’s genetic
characteristic will determine the
hives general behavior.
A hive must have a queen!
However a hive also depends
on worker bees to provide
heat and food for survival!
Plus they do what the queen
can not – feed the young
bees, clean the hive, preform
all the tasks required for the
colony to survive.
If a queen fails to lay fertile
eggs = Hive failure within
about six weeks.
A worker bee is a female like
the queen. Their task in the
hive is to gather all the
nectar, pollen, water, and
tree resins the bees need in
building the nest (wax
comb); they defend the hive
against predators; they are
in charge of the honey bee
democracy as described in
the research conducted by
scientist. They communicate
food sources, swarm
destinations, take care of the
brood and preform many
other task within the hive.
Bees are bees
I can tell you this: The bees are going to do what bees do
regardless of the kind of hive they are kept in. In fact,
they just may not like the hive you put them into and
leave. Or if you do not give them the proper amount of
room to expand the brood nest, they will swarm. In all
cases, they make the decision of what they are going to
We call keeping bees “Bee Management” which is
nothing more than trying to make the bees do what we
want them to do.
But there are things you can manage and should
You can choose and select for
good queens
Any queen preforming poorly can be replaced!
All queens are raised by bees under various conditions
First Clue to a good queen – She is laying a
lot of eggs
Bee populations should be exploding at this time of the
year! If you look inside a hive with a good queen, the
first clue will be a lot of bees! A colony of bees feed
and take care of the brood of the hive. If the hive is
started from a two pound package of bees it will take
longer for that smaller population of bees to develop
into a strong hive than and a new hive started with
three pounds of bees.
When evaluating a queen, you need to base your
judgment on the supporting cast of bees. She lays
the eggs, the bees need to keep the nest warm,
feed the young brood, and gather all the food.
If the bee population is small – they can not
support a good egg laying queen!
Things you can see and
determine quickly to check if
the queen is preforming as she
 The egg laying ability of the queen.
 A drone laying queen or absence of the queen resulting in
a laying worker bee in the hive.
 Supersedure
 Aggressiveness of bees.
Don’t replace a queen just to
replace a queen.
Have a reason
 Young queens are generally more productive than
older queens. Those that want honey production
usually requeen every year or two.
 Queens shipped in packages usually are not hardy for
Ohio weather conditions – winter failure is high for
package bee started hives. Beekeepers usually have
no choice in what queens they get with a package.
 You want to try various new strains of bees.
Any failing queen for what ever
reason. See examples below!!
Taking a look at queens
First – What should a good frame of brood look like?
You need to understand that bee populations begin with
brood and if no brood is being produced, it will affect the
ability of the hive to survive.
Honey Bee Populations
This is a frame from a newly started hive being examined as the
beekeeper was getting it ready for winter survival.
The bees were
being feed and the
bees from the
package had drawn
out the foundation
and some brood
had been raised on
this frame!
What Happened?
When did it
One disappointed
The reason a good queen and inspection of a hive of bees is
very important.
What the beekeeper did:
 Took a beekeeping class which covered beginning
 Bought a hive, equipment and a package of bees.
 Followed the directions given in the class – feed the
bees, checked to make sure the queen was released
from the queen cage, made sure she was laying
eggs. Add boxes when needed. In the fall, make
sure they have enough food to survive the winter.
What the beekeeper did not do:
 Inspect the hive on a regular basis to make sure the
queen continued to lay eggs and build up a good bee
population. For some reason the queen failed. As
long as bees were flying from the hive, this
beekeeper thought everything was okay.
When does one replace a
Signs of a queen beginning to fail
Do you see
open cells.
What about
raised in
What about
the bee
in the hive?
A new hive after six
weeks of development.
An older established hive with a
strong bee population in the
spring of the year.
A comparison of two hives.
New hives take time to develop the bee populations that an
established hive has.
Things you can check for:
First – Look for signs that something is going
wrong. Many things go wrong for beekeepers
starting new bee hives or even introducing a new
queen to replace an old queen or start a split.
Remember the queen is not related to the bees that
she is introduced to. Thus, she must first be
accepted by these bees. Bees often kill the new
queen or may decide to replace her.
Common problems
-- Drone laying queens
-- Poorly mated queens
–-Damaged queens
-- Stressed queens
The first six weeks after a queen is introduced to a
colony of honey bees is the most important period of
the hive’s life.
If for any reason the queen fails, it is up to the
beekeeper to take corrective action as quickly as
Any delay will result in a declining honeybee
population of worker bees.
When a fertilized egg is laid by the queen, it takes
21 days for that egg to develop into an adult bees.
And that adult bee has a life span during the
summer months of only 40 some + or - days.
Once the worker bee population is reduced to old
bees, the hive most likely will fail.
Problems begin to appear when you see the bees trying to create a
new queen. This is called supersedure. This picture is of a capped
queen cell. Queen cell cups appear usually within the first three
weeks after a queen is introduction to a hive.
A problem
more often
than most
their failing
What can be done?
Another problem easy to see--the queen is
beginning to laying only eggs that develop into
drone bees or for some reason the queen
disappears from the hive resulting in several
worker bees laying eggs.
Worker bees and queen bees can lay unfertilized eggs.
Usually a drone laying queen will gradually exhaust
the sperm needed to fertilize the eggs. If you see a
frame like the one shown here -Unfertilized eggs laid in
worker cells look like a
sever case of the bumps
when the cells are capped
No worker brood at all and
a queen can not be found.
Best guess – no queen in
the hive
You have seen this frame earlier. Note
that you will find drone brood in
worker cells. And you will see capped
worker cells. This hive has a queen!
Several things are
happening in this hive.
 Bees have not stored
any honey around the
 Foundation has not
been completely drawn
 This hive can still be
saved by introducing a
new good queen and
help must be given by
the beekeeper.
Poor brood pattern -- need to feed hive and replace the queen
Honey bees have attitudes
One characteristic of the queen is the gentleness or
aggressiveness of her worker bees.
European honey bees are for the most
part gentle creatures. However, some
may be quite aggressive. It is not fun
to have to work with aggressive
bees nor will your neighbors
appreciate your bees.
This trait begins to show itself
after the original stock has died
and the new queen’s prodigy has
populated the hive.
A beekeeper keeping aggressive bees is responsible for
causing neighbors being unable to enjoy their own property.
Courts seem to favor the home owners faced with a
beekeeper who has created a public nuisance.
What you can not see
Disease resistance, winter survival ability, or recessive genetic
Winter losses have been very heavy this year.
bees that did survive. Why?
But there are
 They went into winter with ample honey stores – so bees that
gathered honey, stored it in the right places, had a queen that
shut down brood production in relation to nectar and pollen
availability, and were healthy (honey bees that have longer
life spans) survive.
 Why is it that bees with TLC – the beekeeper does everything
possible to help them survive – die while a colony living in a
tree survive without any chemical treatment, without any TLC
and were solely at the mercy of mother nature?
Honey bees have attitudes
One characteristic of the queen is the gentleness or
aggressiveness of her worker bees.
Aggressiveness is a genetic trait.
Working bees in Georgia.
It is believed by some including myself that aggressive
bees tend to be more hygenic, better honey gathers, and
make money!
And this bee yard exist because property
owners in this area grow watermelons and
need pollination for crops. This is also
where your package bees originate. Guess
what is in store for them when they are
taken out of these hives and sent North!

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