to the can question.. well certainly you can... if you wish?
to the should question.. combining is generally considered (by us old school types) to be better than knowing a weak hive will die during the winter. the idea is 'you take your losses in the fall and not in the winter' and adding to the more robust hives improves their chances for winter time survival.
i agree with Tecumseh, take your losses in the fall, pinch all the majesties and combine the bees with stronger hives. from a practical standpoint you have 3 weak hives because you have 3 weak queens, so you would be taking a big risk by joining all three. the reigning queen of the 3 will not improve your chances that the combined hive will survive, although a reigning queen, a weak queen. best to join the bees with other hives.
Omie, this would be a good viable solution too. here in the north it would be foolish for me at this time of the year to combine any hives, i would just have a bunch of dead bees and disrupted colonie(s) that looked good for winter. so i would be looking at this as an option.
the â€˜beezyâ€™ part would be eeny, meenie, miny moe on which queen?
i would just use the newspaper method to join them and let the bees and queens figure out who reigns, and i would even try joining the 3 hives, to risk losing any good colony.
Braswell, if all you have is three weak colonies, i would combine them, you have nothing to lose because chances are if you think they are too weak to winter, then you will lose all three anyway, but I would re-queen in the spring.
are there enough winter stores in these colonies to combine and winter? might also help you to decide.
Why are the hives weak. Are they late splits or just did not thrive. What is the mite situation and other health issues. How much honey is there? Having more bees might not be that much of a plus if there is not enough groceries.
Of course you can. If you would like help figuring out whether or not you should maybe you could describe the circumstances a little better? If you only have 3 hives and wish to combine those three, you wouldn't want to kill all 3 queens unless you are intending to re-queen, too.
Thanks for responding. I do have other hives that are doing ok. One of these three has a really good queen. The 2 weakest hives were trap outs from this summer. They requeened each of the queens they raised from eggs. The best of the 3 was a cut out that did not requeen. June started out at 100 degrees and stayed there with no rain all summer. It is raining here now and 30 days till frost. ??? Should I wait closer to the end of October to make my move? Do they have time to build up population and stores. I am North of Greensboro North Carolina. RB
This I had one hive (2 deeps) that had a queen they raised in July- it's a hive I keep at my friend's house. I looked in it a month ago and was surprised to see very little honey stores and only modest patches of brood. But the bees looked happy and well populated. I left it alone for two weeks and then looked again during our current nectar flow, and wow!, all of a sudden there were solid walls of capped brood and lots of capped honey and they were looking terrific. They had hit their stride. It could happen! If i were you I would give that strongest of the 3 another couple of weeks on their own without looking in- then check them again before taking action. You are in a much warmer area than I am, I think you still have weeks of time to do stuff.