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Major trouble in one of my hives


Hey everyone. I need some important advice! I have 2 hives. I’m new to this. One hive is thriving. The other hive, I think, doesn’t have a queen. The brood is only drone brood. There is very little activity coming and going. The workers are carrying very little pollen, if any. The honey isn’t being capped and there has been little
Progress since I was last in there 4 weeks ago. In the middle of one frame it looks like a Queen is being reared. I’m concerned that the queen has been gone for too long and that the pheromones are gone and the workers will kill her off when she’s ready. The workers are definitely laying eggs. It looks like only one egg per cell, but it’s all over and there’s no organization to it. I’m attaching a few photos.

Here is where my mind is going with this based on doing a little research…

I was considering taking 2 frames (that have a queen super) from my thriving hive that have a lot of bees/brood on them and placing them in my queenless hive. I’m hoping that once that queen is ready, they won’t reject her. Also, the brood will have a lot of workers…whereas the hive that Isn’t doing well has no worker cells.

Thoughts? Questions? Ideas?

Thanks everyone!!


^here is a photo of what looks to be a supersceding queen in my hive that is suffering. Should I keep checking to see what happens when she’s ready? Maybe they won’t reject her? I feel that the old queens scent is gone so they will reject her. But if I take frames from my other hive there will be queen pheromones and maybe they won’t reject her then?

^very little is going on in the hive. It has declined since my last inspection.

^another photo of a frame.


Hi Jamie,

Assuming this is the same hive as in your photo on the other thread, the first thing I would do is reduce it down to just one box. You probably have laying workers in there, and that queen cell is probably from a drone - likely to fail. I like your idea of adding a frame from your thriving hive, but I have a few suggestions:

  1. Just add one frame for now. Choose a frame of brood in all stages (eggs, open larvae and capped larvae, aka BIAS).
  2. Put the frame in the middle of the box - easier for the bees to keep it warm there.
  3. Take nurse bees with the frame from the thriving hive, and smoke the failing hive really well before you add the frame. That way the bees shouldn’t fight.
  4. Inspect in a week’s time, and add another BIAS frame with nurse bees if there are no queen cells.
  5. Repeat the frame of brood every week until they make a queen.
  6. If/when you finally get a queen from your added frames, consider requeening, as your region is full of Africanized bees and you may end up with a very mean hive.

I would only do all of this if you really want to try to save the hive. Your efforts may fail anyway. The alternative would be to just let the hive die out and try again next year. If you want to avoid laying workers, you really need to inspect the hive more often than monthly. :blush:


Ok! Thank you! Yes, normally I would be going in very 3 weeks (unless something looked wrong) but I got stuck in Michigan for work. I should have checked beforehand!!

I think I’m going to try to save the hive…I hope that’s an ok decision to go with. We will see. I appreciate your advice!



Every 3 weeks is not really often enough to save a hive like that. You really need to be available to add a new frame every week. If you can’t do that, or get a friend to help, you might be better adding 3 frames now, and treat them as a kind of “walk away split”. If you do that, I would shake off all of the weak hive existing bees at least 30 feet away from the hive, to try to get rid of the laying worker pheromones, otherwise your split will not make a new queen, and you will have the same problem when you come back.


I can check them whenever I need to now. I won’t be traveling back to Michigan anymore. I’ll be able to check them weekly. Last time I checked they were doing great. But a lot happened since then! Lesson learned for sure!



I guess your a beekeeper n not a BeeHaver… Dawn has a great plan layed out for you … Youll learn a lot about your bees going thru this. As Dawn has said. No guarantees but plenty to do n learn. Stick with it young lady.

Good luck :four_leaf_clover: n Cheers.


Thank you for the encouragement, Gerald! I’m not happy that this happened but it is definitely going to be a huge learning experience.

Thanks again,



Stuff happens. I’m working on recovering a triple deep 5 frame Nuc hive that was suppose to go in a larger 8 frame hive soon. They got into pesticides which quickly reduced the hive by nearly 50 % or more. This week I’ve been working at salvaging the rest (can’t find the Queen so guessing she’s dead) (no eggs, larva n limited older capped brood)… so at times thing happen out of our wishes or controlled. We just have to pick up the pieces n move on !

Go girl. You can do this Jsmie !

Ta ta,


P.S. Helping my mentor work on a Apiary of about 20 plus hives. Danny n I work together on several larger apiaries also. I’m able to glean a lot of hands on experience working him. He’s a professor of insects at one of the local colleges.


Thanks Gerald!!!

Nice pics. Thanks for sharing! That’s awesome to have a mentor. I wish I had something like that down here in the keys. I need to try and find that. You guys are a great resource on here and very encouraging. And my books are extremely helpful as well.

Thanks again and good luck with recovering that hive!


I have been fighting laying workers as well. Best I can gather is there is not a big benefit to saving a hive from laying workers. Kind of a wash between starting over with a split versus steeling a frame per week to feed the laying worker hive until the laying workers either die or stop laying.

That said, if time is not an issue, I think we learn the most from salvaging the laying worker hive. That is what I am doing and I think I am finally through the worst with my big hive. I have 2 single box hives that are not out of the woods yet. They did accept new queens but are not allowing them to lay yet.

Good luck and keep us posted.


I would do exactly as you are asking for advise on. It is unlikely you would end up with an Africanized in my opinion, but hey, I’m in Australia where we don’t have that problem but as your virgin queen will be from your own stock the odds are in your favor.
Don’t give up on the hive, treat it as a test of your skills and there is help here all the way and, girl, you can recover the hive.
I do my hive inspections weekly and that way I can guess what to expect to find and be prepared when I open up my hives and not get caught out.


When you say “Best I can gather is there is not a big benefit to saving a hive from laying workers”.

Didn’t you like the shake method advice? It really works & only takes a few minutes to execute. Not much time involved at all. Certainly worth the effort to save a colony from laying workers.


Jeff, the research paper I read showed that foragers are the most likely worker to develope ovaries when there is no queen. So it would seem the shake method gets rid of nurse bees but not the foragers which are the ones laying. That said, the shake method seemed to put the bees in new hive mode and I believe it allowed them to accept the new queens I installed. However, neither queen has been laying for 2 weeks now. It could be too few of nurse bees or the laying workers are eating her eggs, not sure. The packages were installed in April so the workers are getting old and dying.

Time wise it seems feeding a weak hive frames of eggs and brood from another hive for 3 weeks (the time for worker ovaries to shut off) would be just as well if not better to just start a new hive using the same resources. The use of resources is what I was refering to to salvage the laying worker hive.

The size and age of the hive may make a difference on which is better as well. Mine were packages bees that were already in the hive for 3 weeks so getting old even before I did the shake method. Every hive may have a different answer.


Ah well, my bees didn’t know about that research paper. Nor did the bees of the bloke who gave me the idea. Nor did the bees of the bloke who gave him the idea.

I was shy to use the method at first because I didn’t want to lose nurse bees. You just have to do the shake & not think about it. You only give them one frame of brood containing some worker eggs. They start building queen cells straight away, which is the desired outcome. That saves the trouble of continually giving them brood until they eventually make a new queen, which is what I used to do.


I do think the shake method has merit, but I am not convinced it is because you lose the laying workers. My theory is that it puts the bees into panic/emergency mode and they make or except a new queen where before the shake they wouldn’t.

I am still a beginner bee keeper (third year) so I take me own advice with a grain of salt :wink:

I just try to take all the stuff I read, blend it with practical experience from keepers like yourself and come up with a plan. I do appreciate yours and others advice and suggestions.



Thank you Joe, I guess beekeeping is all about good people sharing ideas. What they find that works & doesn’t work. Don’t get too bogged down with reading all sorts of research papers.

Your theory could be right about why the colony makes queen cells. The good thing is: they do, & that’s what matters. I got sick of dealing with drone brood in worker comb.

Your own advice could be gold if it’s based on your practical experience & observations.