fall combination decision making

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by d.magnitude, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Hi, I know combining colonies in the fall is a tough thing to do for some beekeepers. I want to try to be hard-nosed about it, and minimize my losses over the winter.

    I've often read to combine weak colonies w/ stronger ones in the fall. What I've never read, though, is how weak is too weak. What criteria do you look for to decide if a colony is "weak enough" to combine (although I'm sure it's very location dependant))? A certain # of brood frames? Stores? Your gut feeling... ?

    -Dan
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    In NC, I want a hive to have 40 lbs. of stores in late Sept. If they don't, I combine.
     

  3. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    im like iddee I dont worry so much about the number of bees. I go by the weight of the hive unless of course they are doomed to lack of critical mass. If this is the case going into winter there are underlying reasons why they are weak and I would be reluctant to add them to a healthy hive
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    you are not in Texas so what may apply here doesn't necessarily apply in Pennsylvania. make yourself a simple list of desirable and undesirable traits for your own circumstance and go from there.

    for me... the first item is weight but I can literally feed all winter so this variable doesn't matter so much here. the second consideration is the sheer number of bees capable of forming a winter cluster. this doesn't matter so much for me either since our winters are mild but this variable should have significant consequence at your location. next come the general health of the hive... anything that produces a question here need to get stacked almost anywhere you reside. lastly, and likely the most important variable, is the quality of the queen. anything that produces a question in your mind as to the desirability of the queen should get that hive combined with another.

    there can be some variation on this theme of stacking and combining hives. a straight paper combine, a paper combine with a queen excluder and stacking with the use of a double screen. each of these are useful in a given circumstance but the primary idea is to reduce numbers and take your losses in the fall rather than in the springtime.