Recovering From A Laying Worker Hive

Recovering A Laying Worker Hive

A laying worker bee is a worker bee that lays unfertilized eggs in the absence of a queen bee. Only drones develop from the eggs of laying worker bees. If left unresolved the hive will die out.
(Note: There are exceptions and I will do a post on thelytoky at a later date)

A laying worker or workers as more than one can be present start to develop in the absence of eggs & larvae produced by a mated queen. Normally, pheromones from the brood – known as brood recognition pheromones 9 – oxy – decenoic acid prevent development of the workers’ ovaries. Laying workers can develop after the colony’s queen has been lost.

Around 1% of workers in a healthy hive will develop to be laying workers but this is not a problem as the other bees police the eggs they lay so very very few ever develop in to drones.


To recover from a laying worker hive with NO QUEEN as long as it has not been queen less to long and what I mean by that is there are still a large percentage of worker bees. Because if there are not enough workers the hive will have no chance of recovering.

First you will need a Mated Queen a virgin queen or a queen cell very rarely work if ever.
Check the hive carefully and make sure the is not an old unmated queen or failed queen present in the hive.

Use an uncapping fork and remove any sealed drones as you don’t need any more drones than there already are as drones are a massive drain on the hives resources.

You need then to shake all the bees out of the hive around 5 to 10 metres away from the original position of the hive ( make sure you brush them off the hive floor as well  )

The bees will start to return to the hive hopefully the laying workers will not or if they do with the presence of a new queen the will now be policed again by other worker bees.
Some bees will not return to the hive just leave them where they are on the ground don’t be tempted to scoop them up and put them in the hive.

You then need to hang the Queen cage between two frames Leave the cage hanging for a minimum of 48 to 72 hours after this time has passed then break away and remove the tab on the end of the queen cage to expose the fondant / candy to provide access for the bees to remove and release the Queen.

This is the bit that will greatly improve your acceptance of the new Queen…


After this time you can do a gentle inspection on a nice day and check to see if there are any eggs.

This will not work 100% of the time but if the hive is still viable its worth a try. The other thing you can do as well to further improve your chances if you have another hive take a frame of brood and put that in the hive as well this introduces new young bees and helps reduce stress levels in the colony

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