combine 3 weak hives????

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Michbeeman63, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. Michbeeman63

    Michbeeman63 New Member

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    Started 4 brand new hives (all deadouts from last year). Installed all 4 packages on same day in Mid April in Northern Detroit suberb. For some reason, I had a large number of bees end up in Hive 1 and very few in 2-4. The hives seemed to drift to the one hive. I checked a few weeks later, and I had a queen laying eggs in all 4 hives. After being out of town for three and a half weeks, I saw some growth in hives 2-4 in the number of bees, but not a lot. Still have capped brood and some bee increase in population, but not too many bees. Think they got stunted since they started with so few bees in these hives. Very little surplus. Hive 1 already filled the two brood chambers, and a honey super and I added a 2nd super.

    My question is this? I don't see any one of these three hives having the strength to give me honey to overwinter. Can I combine these three hives in hopes of enough bees and brood to have one strong hive out of the three? What is the proper process for this combining. My assumptions are to kill the queens in each of the weakest two hives. Let them sit queenless for a few days. put newspaper between the boxes and combine with one queen. Once the bees have acclimated, adjust the brood in the bottom box mainly.

    Any suggestions? wondered why I had bees drift to the one hive. I know they should have been further apart, but I haven't had this occur with hives installed right next to one another.

    any help is appreciated.
     
  2. Ray

    Ray Member

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    It's still early in Michigan. Comb is the issue; do you have enough drawn comb for 3? or 4? hives? A good goldenrod crop should provide enough honey for your bees, wax and a workforce are the issues.

    You could transfer a frame of two of eggs, and some nurse bees, and try to build up the weak hives. This would cost you as far as honey goes, but maybe have an extra hive next spring.

    With a flow on, you could still shift positions of the hives to even out the work force.

    :) you could put them in your trunk and head for Alabama :)

    Good Luck, those are all the suggestions I could come up with.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    If you do combine, don't wait 3 or 4 days. They know they are queenless in 2 to 4 hours, and will have queen cells within 24 hours. Kill the weak queens in the morning and combine in the afternoon.
     
  4. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    I would mot give up on them yet pull 3 frames of mostly capped brood from hive 1 and place 1 in each of hives 2-4. Place good built up frames in the center of the top super in hive 1 so the queen will lay them right away. by doing this you will increase the population in the hives by 2 frames. The brood pulled from the strong hive will not be of foraging age until the mid to late August so will not be missed. make sure yo locate the queen in hive 1 so she doesn't get transferred accidentally. If more bees are needed in the 3 weaker hives another round of frames could be pulled in another 12 to 15 days. Transfer capped brood as it will emerge sooner and the receiving hive will not have to feed and cap. If there was sufficient population they would have had eggs and open brood laid by there queen to look after.
     
  5. Beeboy

    Beeboy New Member

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    I did something similar with a week nuc, that was just not going to make it. It made so much difference, in a very big hurry. Definitely worth a try.
     
  6. Michbeeman63

    Michbeeman63 New Member

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    I am not clear on what transfer you are recommending. Three total frames of brood from my best hive 1. One frame in the top or bottom of the weak hives? two of my weak hives are still only one deep.

    ​please clarify. thanks for the advise.
     
  7. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Pull a good frame of mostly capped brood for each of the weaker colonies from the strongest colony, giving each one a boost. Place it in the or next to frames that already have brood in them.
    I would have thought that all 3 weak would have been in a single super. I think we need more information?
    How many frames are the bees covering in each of the three hives?
    How many frames of brood? capped and still open?
    Can you post a picture of your hive orientations so we may try and figure out your drift problem or suggest ways that might help in reducing it.
     
  8. Michbeeman63

    Michbeeman63 New Member

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    two of the three weaker hives have only one deep. One of them appeared stronger in June so I added as deep and a shallow that had some crystalized in it. The hive seemed to lack any surplus. Was going to be gone for around 3 weeks, and felt the extra honey for them to feed on would help. The there seem to be around 6-8 frames of bees and around 4 of them seem to have brood on them. There are three and they don't vary much from this. There doesn't seem to be much honey at all being built, but more bees than in late june. I will try to take some pics of the hives in the beeyard and post.
     
  9. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Is it possible that some criter is coming at night and having a snack at hives 2,3, & 4 Like raccoon or skunk? eating the guard and forager bees? Or massive drifting that can occur if the hives are in a straight line, there is a constant prevailing wind, hives placed one in front of each other.