Beekeeping in Vermont...

Mary Jane Russell writes:

Successfully overwintered a 10 frame hive started from pkg in May 2011. In April 2012 I noticed the queen was injured (missing wings) so on May 2 I replaced her with a local queen, sold as mated. New queen was released and accepted fine and I have observed her several times, BUT last week and again this week I am seeing 2,3,4 eggs in each cell and relatively little brood. (This may be because the colony had gotten so small they didn't encourage her to lay much?) Eggs are at the bottom of cells, not up on sides. It's been 3.5 weeks since new queen was released - even if she's a new queen shouldn't she have figured out by now to lay only one egg per cell? It seems the brood is regular brood not drone. They are in a 10 frame hive with both deep bodies on, yet there are bees basically only on 2-3 frames in the bottom deep and the brood nest does not seem to be growing much. So they have plenty of room and I don't think the queen is feeling confined in anyway. Could this be laying workers even if the hive has a queen? Or is this a new queen just taking her time to get the rhythm? Thanks!

I think the problem is with the size of the colony. The queen is trying her best to expand her broodnest, but there aren't enough bees to allow that expansion. She feels the need to lay eggs, and because the available brood cells within the brood rearing cluster are already occupied by eggs she re-lays in those cells. If you are truly seeing capped worker brood in this colony, then laying workers aren't the problem. Once enough worker brood emerges, the multiple eggs should, for the most part, disappear. You could boost the population by adding a comb of emerging worker brood from another colony.

- Mike