Combining weak hives

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by arkiebee, May 28, 2010.

  1. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    It looks like I need to combine a weak hive or two. One of my hives that swarmed didn't have a strong hive to leave to her daughter. This happened almost 2 weeks ago. I have seen the new queen, but I have yet to see any eggs, larvae, etc. There isn't any capped brood. This is a gentle, yet small group of bees.

    My other hive has a new queen, but as I checked it yesterday to see if she was laying, I did see ONE frame of new larvae, but no eggs, larvae anywhere else. As I pulled a frame out, I saw a "ball" of bees on the screen-bottom board. I gently used my hive tool to move it and then I saw the queen. She got up on a frame and I pulled it out, I noticed that she was dragging her back leg. A few bees were around her but not many. So are these bees trying to kill her and supercede her? This hive too has a lot of honey, pollen, but no capped brood.

    SO my dilema is - do I wait and see a few more days on BOTH hives, or do I go ahead and combine them? If so should I combine them together OR should I combine them with a couple of splits I made earlier?

    I have never had to combine a hive before and have only "read" the How - to's - so what do you WISE beeks have to tell me? :confused:
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Wait 1 more week. Then if the new queen is laying, dispatch the bad leg queen and combine it with the new queen, using a sheet of newspaper.
     

  3. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Thanks Iddee - that was what I was hoping someone would say. I would like to give it one more week to give both queens/hives a chance - maybe that hive wants to supercede her and I just really don't like to interfere with what they want to do. I can always combine them later, and I may not want to combine them together - I may want to combine them with a couple of my splits I made earlier.

    A beekeeper in our area that is president of the club here in NW AR says that his queens seem to be having a hard time getting bred this year - it seems to be taking them longer than usual. So maybe this new queen just needs more time.

    Next weekend I will be out of school anyway - I can spend more "daytime" time in the beeyard.
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    as to be expected... what iddee said.

    snip..
    This happened almost 2 weeks ago. I have seen the new queen, but I have yet to see any eggs, larvae, etc.

    tecumseh:
    timing is very important here and yet the age of the queens cells is largely unknown (you can make a good guess with one or two clues). from the time of swarming allow 4 to 6 days for the cell to hatch and another two weeks for maturation and mating. it seems to be almost a natural human characteristic to think that this biology can be rushed somewhat.

    ps... stormy weather (most especially in the afternoon which is the prime time for queens to mate) or high winds can effect the time required for a queen to get properly mated.
     
  5. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Thanks Tech - We have had stormy afternoons for the past several days/weeks - that is probably what happened. This hive swarmed 2 weeks ago (May 31), I will give it more time.

    I have just been lucky (not really yes/no?) to have witnessed my hives swarming this time. We moved the hives behind my house & sectioned off one of our horse pens so I could watch what is going on, and it has paid off. I can see/hear what is happening better than where they were before.

    I do need to get into a couple of other hives today and get that super off the bottom. Surely the queen has moved up into the hive body again so I can take the super off and put it on top with a q/e till the brood hatches out and leaves. I don't like to use q/e, but I guess I will need to for a while to keep this gal out of there - then I will finally have all my hives in a regular configuration.

    Thanks again for the advise from all. :wave:
     
  6. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    I think the hive that had the queen with the hurt leg is queenright - I got in there today and saw another frame with new larvae, so I didn't go any further to find the queen - they seemed calm and OK - they have even started pulling comb in the super - so I am "assuming" things are ok.

    My other hive that I knew was weak, still has NO eggs, larvae, capped brood, etc. I have nothing in that hive but honey & some pollen and not too many bees. So I am going to combine it with a nuc I had that isn't growing as fast as my other nucs, but it does have capped brood. SO I am going to close up that nuc tonight - in the morning move it back beside the weak hive (10 - 12 feet) and tomorrow I am going to try to combine the 2 hive bodies of the weak hive into one hive body - AND THEN combine the two colonies tomorrow evening. AM I DOING THIS RIGHT??? (I have 2 staggerd rows of bee hives in one area - so I know any "lost" bees will find their way to some hive)
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    It sounds to me like you have everything under control. I don't have anything to add other than "Good Luck".
     
  8. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    OK = I'll go out and plug the entrance in the nuc and move it in the morning - or I may go ahead and move it tonight. The weaker hive will go on top? and I have heard 2 sheets/ 1 sheet of newspaper - does it matter? Should I put a popsicle stick between the two colonies as well to give them some air? It has sure been hot here the last few days (mid - high 80's and today was in the 90s) I worry about the heat?
     
  9. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Iddee - I can put an empty hive body on top of that nuc then put the weak hive on top of that? Or will that create too much of an empty space?
     
  10. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    1 sheet, with a knife slit about 4 inches long.
    One box directly on the other. Either one on top, but "if convenient" I would put the queen right box on top. If not convenient, either way will do. Upper vent won't hurt, although not necessary, but do not make it large enough to be an upper entrance.
     
  11. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Thanks Iddee! I'll let you know how it goes - I have never done this before.
     
  12. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I never did either before the first time. :D

    Relax, and don't make a mountain out of a mole hill. It's just a matter of setting one on the other. About 2 minutes, max.
     
  13. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    I will only comment this last time for the season on this subject, but seems to me that is related to another topic I started a few weeks ago concerning swarming and swarm control--you are experiencing precisely what I stated in my other posts, minus the poorly mated queen, always a possibility when sprinigtime mating flights are being hit with mid to late day storms. Had some element of swarm control been used and in a timely manner--you would not today be jumping through hoops today. enough said no this matter and again not chastizing anyone merely stating a fact. get with your combining of small weak colonies, so atleast one survives, wish you best of luck. :drinks:
     
  14. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    imho.... a newbee needs to learn about a lot of subject matter in some reasonable time frame. certainly swarm control is important, as is recognizing poorly mated queens and at some point even the simple task of combining. I would guess??? the number of task to bring together is no small thing for someone just starting up with honeybee.

    arkiebee... sometime when I am combining here we seem to have issue with wind and keeping the sheet of newspaper in place can be a problem. I have found a queen excluder to be an excellent device to hold the paper down. I slit the paper thru the queen excluder and between the top bars that are below the excluder in about four places. the queen excluder/paper combine can also be used when you have a weakly populated hive with a queen you wonder might be sound but not thriving due to low worker population. set up with an excluder the two worker population will level off somewhat. an upper entrance for the top box for any combine is essential. If I plan to resplit the combine I like to have the top entrance at the back of the hive since you can utilize the two opposing direction entrance to level out the population even more when you split the hive apart.

    best of luck to ya'
     
  15. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Just got in from combining the 2 hives. I now have 10 instead of 11 hives, but this way at least I saved some bees. .. I hope anyway! I was lucky and the wind wasn't blowing - the bees were calm, didn't need hardly any smoke. THANKS so much for the advise I got from you guys!! I hope now this hive will take off and build up nicely before winter.

    The more I think about it this hive that I saw no eggs, larvae, brood, etc. This was the hive that I saw the huge swarm enter, then it had to have left because when I checked in it later on there were only a small amount of bees and if that swarm was in there, I would have seen a lot of bees. I think when they went in there, they killed my queen and then left it for some reason??? I checked the cells with a flashlight and didn't see any eggs anywhere, and I should have seen some by now?

    Thanks again - you guys are the best!
     
  16. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    How long should I wait before I get into this hive and see how it is getting along since I combined it? :confused:
     
  17. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    they will usually chew thru the news paper within 24 hours of doing the combine