I can’t say I blame you Bill. I wouldn’t either. I often forget that a lot of beekeepers live in places that are FAR colder than mine. For instance, here, it is in the 70’s, today. Opening the hive is no big shakes. If it is too cold one day, wait till tomorrow and there is no problem<G>
But, if you have a laying worker, or even suspect one, opening the hive is really the only way to confirm it.
IIRC, and I could be wrong, don’t the bees live longer during the winter? Living in a sort of semi dormant state while balled in the center of the hive? Still, the workers generally toss drones to starve in the fall so if you had a laying worker, seems the remaining workers would toss the drones as they hatch.
Still, I haven’t kept bees in a while and only had a laying worker once in the time I was keeping, before so I cannot remember for sure all the tricks and habits. And, being in The South, I am not certain about the overwintering behavior in colder climes<G>
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From: Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Bill
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2013 3:17 PM
Subject: [Beekeeping] Re: A Beekeeping Question!
Thank you for your answers. I have some points to make:
1. It's too cold to open that hive up right now and check for laying patterns. When the weather warms, I will. But opening that hive up now would just expose a balled mass to a blast of Northern California cold weather. That's deadly. I'm not going there yet.
2. I've had colonies where the queen either died or flew away and a laying worker took over. In all instances, the colony died after a few months. By the time late fall hit, every last bee was gone or dead. I've never once experienced a colony with a laying worker survive the cold winter months. BUT -- my experience at this is limited. I have two hives. I'm a hobbyist at heart.
3. This colony has survived the coldest part of our winter. It's February. While it's still cold, the days are getting longer and a tad warmer. The last frost date has passed. I've witnessed what appears to be new brood emerging from the hive (small bees) and flying around it to gain orientation.
4. Everything I've seen tells me there's a queen in there and I just didn't spot her the last time I inspected the hive last summer (by the way, that inspection revealed NO BROOD in the upper part of the hive). I did not check the frames at the bottom. She may have been there. New brood may have been there.
5. So -- if anyone on this board has ever experienced a colony with a laying worker survive the winter? Please let me know. I don't think it would. But again, my experience is limited.
6. NO KARON! I am not opening the hive in the DEAD OF WINTER.
--- In Beekeeping@yahoogroups.com, Jorg Kewisch wrote:
> This seems to be more the question: How do I find the queen?
> First, the queen may look just like the worker bees with a twice longer
> abdomen. Use Google to see lots of queens.
> Here is what I do, please tell us your method.I start with the bottom
> box, leave the inner cover on the top box. If I start at the top the
> bees will move down and the bottom box will be overcrowded and hard to
> I remove the outer frame and inspect it, put it aside. Then I inspect
> carefully the center frames because the queen is most likely there. If I
> don't find her I go through all frames.
> If still not found I put a queen excluder and the top box on. With light
> smoke the bees will move down and make it easier to find the left behind
> Don't forget to remove the queen excluder afterwards;)