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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need suggestions on how best to help my bees survive this winter.

I have 2 hives that were started this year, one a package with an Italian queen and the other a split from a larger hive. It's been very dry in Texas since May and both of these colonies are really small, never filling out 2 deeps apiece (maybe 60% filled). I've been feeding 1-2 quarts every week. Both have some honey stores, but not much. The Italian queen has been somewhat of a better layer than the split-made queen.

Should I combine the hives keeping only the Italian queen? Her hive has more frames of brood and honey in the upper deep. Whether I combine or not, should I move the filled frames down to fill out the lower deep, leaving more empty frames in the top deep? Or should I leave the bees to sort it out? If I'm unable to find the split-made queen, what's the best strategy for combining?
 

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First, number of boxes is unimportant. Take inventory. How many frames are covered in bees? How many frames are full of honey? How many frames are full of brood?

If 10 or less are full of brood and honey, remove one box. One full deep is enough to winter in Texas. The other questions can be answered after you take inventory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi, Iddee.

There are more than 10 full frames. In addition, there are 3-4 frames partially filled only on one side.
 

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If the bees are covering 6 or more frames in each hive, I would leave them as is and check again every 2 weeks until the weather gets cold.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Each hive has at least 6+ frames covered in bees.

Should I also leave frames as-is, or move some of the empty and partial frames to the upper deep?
 

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at the very least I would consolidate the brood nest and resources downward and at some point (say 30 days down the road) remove any empty boxes. in most years you can easily overwinter hives here in Central Texas in a story and a half configuration. likely you need to keep dribbling on the feed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, Iddee and Tec.

I was really worried about the same size of the hives, but I feel better now. I will continue to feed unless by some miracle we get enough rain for some fall growth (unlikely).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Tec -- another question.

What do you mean by a story and a half? 10 frames in a lower deep, topped by a 5-frame deep, with the remaining space for a feeder inside?
 
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