This last winter, I lost 16 out of 17 beehives. That was a staggering amount and I blame good old fashioned winter loss.
Desperate and about to leave town for 2 weeks, I ended up being able to buy 4 packages of bees and install them within 24 hours of leaving town. I wasn't able to wait to make sure that the queens were released from their queen cages successfully in the suggested 2-3 days, so I direct released the queens when I installed the packages into their hives. I placed the caged queens in with the packages into the top bar hives. Waited for about 30 minutes to make sure no bees were trying to attack through the cages and just let the queens troop right into the hives to start laying.
I checked the hives 2 days ago and found some thrilling bee behavior.
This hive had lost their queen somewhere in the mix and had laying workers. Every single cell was full of eggs. I first heard about thelytoky last summer from Michael Bush. This is where in rare circumstances, haploid worker bees can lay diploid worker bees or even a queen bee. If you know anything about basic bee biology, this is like a bee miracle. The
It appeared as if my hive that I hadn't checked on in 2 weeks was exhibiting signs of thelytoky. The bees had formed queen cell cups that were full of eggs by laying workers. The bees were attempting to rear a queen using haploid, laying worker eggs.
|Laid queen cells|
|Queen cells full of laid worker eggs|
In hindsight, I should have let the bees do their thing and find out what kind of queen they were able to produce. Instead, I had a virgin queen on hand that I introduced to the hive to try and make this hive queenright.
Want to learn more about the biology of thelytoky?