British Beekeepers Association


British Beekeepers Association

Topic: General Husbandry (queen Breeding)

30th March 2013 at 2:34pm

Fred - Dublin

1263 posts - View

Hello Jon.

I just had a look at your fine pictures on Sbai.

One you call 'Laying workers in apidea.' Is this the correct situation?

I ask because all the multiple eggs are on the bottom of their cells and the pattern is nice and tight.

Could it not be a recenly mated queen starting to lay and getting the hang of things?

Bees flying today down here but still very cold. Expected to last another ten days, ugh!


30th March 2013 at 4:27pm


747 posts - View

Hi Fred.

Definitely laying workers in this case.

When a new queen starts to lay you can get two or 3 eggs in a cell.

With laying workers you can get a dozen or more in a single cell.

I have a picture with 3 larvae in the same cell somewhere.

The other thing I have noticed with laying workers is that the eggs vary a lot in size whereas with a queen the egg size is much more uniform.

In a full colony which is queenless it might go 5 or 6 weeks before laying workers appear but with apideas you can get laying workers in just 2-3 weeks. I see laying workers several times a season in the apideas. It is usually in an apidea where I have not seen a queen for a while but assumed erroneously that she was in there somewhere.

The thing about queens laying eggs on the bottom and laying workers on the side of the cell is only partly true as the laying workers get many eggs right on the bottom of the cells.

Edit. I see in that pic there are a couple of cells which have more than one larva inside.

Last edited at 4:32pm on the 30th March by Jon

30th March 2013 at 4:31pm

Fred - Dublin

1263 posts - View

Thanks for the reply Jon.
30th March 2013 at 11:23pm

Roger Patterson
Wisborough Green

3314 posts - View


You are correct about laying workers not always laying on the sides of the cells. Yet another of beekeeping's myths!

Roger Patterson.
31st March 2013 at 3:17am

Fred - Dublin

1263 posts - View

<You are correct about laying workers not always laying on the sides of the cells. >

For discussion purposes only..............

Perhaps some laying workers can hit the bottom but in the picture I couldn't see 'any' eggs on the walls.

31st March 2013 at 12:10pm


5736 posts - View

Fred, there are a few (double) larvae amongst the eggs... so not the most regular of patterns.

It seems from me too that laying workers seem to be able to get down to the bottom of the cell and lay quite effectively.
31st March 2013 at 12:11pm

Martin Gilmore
Mddx Herts

367 posts - View


You put a smile on my face: watching your video of Queen orientation from a apidea - thank you!

Such a contrast to looking out of the window on the first day of summer and seeing a light snow flurry!

31st March 2013 at 12:16pm


747 posts - View

The comb in that picture of mine does not look fully drawn out so that probably helped the short-assed workers hit the bottom. You do get some eggs on the walls but not in the diagnostic way the text books tend to suggest.

The other reason those eggs were definitely laid by laying workers is that the apidea had no queen in it. If you see 15 eggs in one cell, that will always be laying workers rather than a queen short of comb to lay in.

The resolution is not great in that picture, but there is a huge difference in the size of the eggs with some being double or triple the size of others. You never see this with eggs laid by a queen. Some eggs laid by a queen are a bit bigger than others if you compare them but you never see such as difference as with laying worker eggs.
31st March 2013 at 2:20pm

Fred - Dublin

1263 posts - View

Thanks again Jon.

Happy Easter to you and yours!
12th August 2015 at 3:49pm

Simon Rice
Bishops Stortford

29 posts - View

JimNB wrote:
It would be interesting to hear what those people who have recently passed the GHC did and the comments they received from the examiners on their queen rearing.

This is an old thread now but added for information. I recently failed my GHC. One of my failure points was on my queen rearing. At the time I had a small apiary of less than five production colonies. I had created two nucs via 3-frame splits from QC raised via the Demaree method used on two colonies in May. However by late June I only had one unmated queen to "show off" to the examiners. Not great. I'm fairly sure the weather didn't help my cause. I had photographs to demonstrate my process, which would have been corroborated by my records to show I had selected from good queens. Understandably having viable queens seems to be the required end point of this particular exercise, although it is more implicit in the syllabus than explicit me thinks.
Moral of the tale. Raise more queens than necessary for the GHC exam and use a more reliable method than Demaree for QC in the first instance!