I have laying workers! What do I do?


Laying workers are not that common, but they happen.  Laying workers happen when a worker bee starts laying unfertilized eggs in the absence of a queen.  Because workers are not mated, their offspring turn into drones and the hive will not survive.  It is very hard to put a queen in a hive with laying workers.  Because of this, if you introduce a new queen into the hive the bees will probably ball her and kill her as if she was an intruder.  If you see a weird laying pattern, multiple eggs in one cell, and lots of drone brood, you may have laying workers.

Though it is hard to get rid of laying workers, you could try a couple of things. The best thing to do is to introduce an older laying queen from another hive on a comb of her own brood with her adhering daughters.  Most of the time, the laying workers will cease laying and accept an older laying queen as the head of the colony.  It helps to have some of the older queen’s own daughters introduced along with her to police the laying workers and devour their eggs – which is one of the mechanisms that suppresses the reproduction of the few laying workers that develop in hives with fertile queens.