I captured a swarm from my larger hive in July, but it has now only a few frames of brood and stores. Should I try to winter it over; combine it with my larger hive, using newspaper; or try to create a two queen colony, described elsewhere in this forum? If I combine hives, can I just let the queens fight it out? (The original queen is a Russian queen, now two years old.) Will the stronger or younger queen always survive? I assume it is too late to requeen this season.
Thanks for your advice!
How old was the queen that swarmed ?
No don't let the queens fight it out there may be a change that both would die & then you would be out of luck for sure.
I would kill the older queen of the 2 & just go ahead & put the hives together with a newspaper between them.
At this point in the yr up there i doubt it would be a good idea to try to run a 2 queen hive. If one hive were to run out of stores mid winter & move up or down then the queen would be left behind to stare. not a good idea in my opinion.
Good Luck with what ever you choose.
Don't know your experience wintering nuc's. So I recommend combining the two colonies. Dequeening is optional. But I would dequeen the weaker. Wait half day or so and combine by placing on top. Use newspaper if you want but if you wait it shouldn't really be needed. Have you ever run colonies in unlimited brood nest management (3 deep)? Don't run double queen colonies at this time of year. In the spring just split the large combined colony if strong enough.
Yes, I think it best to unite the colonies, and will try to kill the weaker queen first. What is the brood management technique that you mention? I had planned to wait a few days for the bees to mingle, then put a bee escape under the top deep (I have two deeps in the larger colony.). After the bees have left, I will remove the third deep,take out the two remaining frames of brood, and use them to replace any empty frames in the lower deeps.
The management technique I am talking about isn't so much a technique but an old style of management. The use of double brood chamber in the US was to have a small enough brood nest to be able to move with ease but large enough to prevent swarming. Adopted by the commercial beekeeper(especially pollenators). In the spring colonies are split to retard swarming and make up losses. But splitting colonies causes loss of field force thus less potential crop. Not so good if one is managing for honey alone and doesn't earn $$$ from pollenation. But to secure a good crop without swarming or splitting one needs to utilize a third BROOD CHAMBER for maximum production. In double boxes often excluders are used to restrict the queen. Note the word restrict! In the use of 3 boxes the queen is encouraged to lay a maximum of eggs at all times and is never restricted. Small economical splits can bee made later in the season as brood can be taken from three chambers not two. Also feed will be minimized to almost zero. Maximum food that is all natural will be left for winter. No syrups to make or pollen patties to brew. Your work load is minimized. And you still get large populations of bees. Efficient use of your time. Many say that the bottom brood chamber is empty in the spring. I say look again! It is full of pollen. Why make patties when honeybees can provide for themselves? How does one stimulate in the spring? Add wet supers! Much can be learned from they old management style of unlimited brood nest. Try it you might like it. Those who should not use it are those whom are physically weak and can't handle heavy lifting or wish not to produce as much honey as they could (just home use). Or some in the UK and other parts who have strains of bees that don't keep large brood nests. Any questions just ask.
Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed reply. I was unable to find the queen, so I combined hives without dequeening. If neither queen survives, with the bees create a new queen this late in the season?
Unlimited brood nest management sounds too good to be true -- and I do have a few questions!
What is a wet super? Why isn't it necessary to feed either syrup or pollen substitute?
Why isn't this management style used more frequently, since it seems to have so many advantages? (I have to lift brrod chambers to reverse them in the spring, and to clean the bottome board, so using 2 brood chambers doesn't eliminate lifting.) Are there any books or articles on unlimited brood nest management?
Again, thanks for your help.
What is a wet super?
One that still has honey residue in it after extracting is called wet. Dry means it was given back to the bees to clean the honey out(this may cause serious robbing). This residue of honey is used to stimulate brood rearing in the spring thus no syrup and you have suped the colony at the same time.
Why isn't it necessary to feed either syrup or pollen substitute?
Because the bees have more in a three deep set up top (third box is plugged out with honey) for winter and the second brood chamber is quite full too! The old rule is to never take honey that isn't surplus, don't take from the brood chambers. There is one exception being honey bound. One needs to use judgement there. Why feed artificial feed when the bees have lots of the real deal?
Why isn't this management style used more frequently, since it seems to have so many advantages?
New beekeepers aren't taught this anymore. Also these colonies can get five or more deep supers tall. How could you move them when they get so big? It doesn't lend itself well to commercial pollenation, or anywhere the bees are on the go. It is for permanent apiaries where the beekeeper makes money by honey and other hive products.
I have to lift brrod chambers to reverse them in the spring, and to clean the bottome board, so using 2 brood chambers doesn't eliminate lifting.)
This is one of those things to beekeeping: lifting. You will need to place the empty bottom brood chamber on top in the spring(it still will have lots of pollen, thus you need no pollen pattty) and thus reverse. But the cluster won't be split this way, only when being moved(unless you can move two boxes at once).
Are there any books or articles on unlimited brood nest management?
Swarming: its control and prevention by Snelgrove. There are others, I will look them up for you. They are old books however, but still very good. Also I recommend the book, Beekeeping, a manual for english speaking beekeepers by Wedmore. You will have to look hard in used and rare book stores might be a copy or two left at barnes and nobles. com.
Wedmore is in print, published by BBNO, 10 Quay Rd., Charlestown, Cornwall, UK, price Â£14.95.
I can see that Clay, Robert and Richard have been helping you much here concerning information on Unlimited broodnests, combining colonies, and feeding and using wet supers. Even as to recommending books to read.
Clay wrote me an email and asked me to put my two-cents worth in, but so far most of the bases seem to have been covered and you have already combined the colonies fine from what I am reading.
Unlimited broodnests are an old traditional style of keeping honeybees not seen too much in todays modern world. It is production for hive products at its best.
Most beekeepers that use unlimited broodnests today are in rural settings where such traditions can still be followed by those willing to put forth the work. The rewards can be great, both in pleasure and in products produced such as honey, pollen, propolis, wax, and yes the bees themselves for both food (protein supplement) and resale (to other beekeeers).
A basic unlimited broodnest is about 3 deeps. Within it is contained the whole broodnest and accompanying pollen and honey, normally in a ratio of 10-10-10 not counting probably also another 10 equivalent in water to use the stores effectively in consumption.
For every bee produced in a colony it takes a cell equivalent of water, pollen and honey to support -one- bee! With the unlimited broodnest all these are present at all times, because on a natural old system of beekeeping the bees would fill the broodnest area first and then anything above that would be for the beekeeper as his reward for keeping his animals healthy.
In olden days it was looked up as tithing back for your animals so to have on hand food necessary to sustain them for the coming year just in case difficulties should arise in climate/weather conditions or ?
I'm not going to go into requeening here, but you have done good and the bees might surprise you and keep both queens for awhile, though the old queen will probably die over winter and the younger will survive to carry on. This would follow natural tendencies as happens in nature, with mother, daughter supercedures in the fall season going into winter, so adequate fall brood is available to have winter carry over bees, so in the spring the colony is more certain to start up successfully again.
I will leave you now, as you are in good hands and seem to have many good friends watching and advising you here.
Basically all you need to do now is watch stores to make sure the bees don't run out, make sure the brood combs were combined and all the brood placed together and around that frames of honey on the sides and top for insulation, to help against the cold, as each frame of honey equals so much R-value as in actual home insulation, besides food.
Then in the spring with help from here, just work them up as normal.
Best regards to you:
To all the beekeepers who have taken the time to offer such helpful advice--
I think it's probably too late to try to winter over three brood chambers at this point, since I don't have enough full frames, espcially of pollen. I'm feeding syrup now, however, and bees are taking it readily. I'll open the hive this week-end, but will probably use two brood cahmbers plus the shallow full of honey which I've saved for winter stores. This arrangement worked well last winter. I put a piece of foam inside the outer cover, for insulation and prevention of condensation -- and the bees took the northern New England winter in stride.
I will try three deeps next season -- but still wonder why, when it has so many advantages, this method isn't used by more beekeepers.
Many thanks to all the geneous members of the beekeeping community for sharing their experience.
but still wonder why, when it has so many advantages, this method isn't used by more beekeepers.
Here's one reason, you need more equipment so cost is more to run a colony. Also, this method is to heavy for pollenation work. Many modern beekeepers like to stip every nugget of honey from a hive. Then replace with syrup to compensate. this is unnatural and a bit unhealthy in my POV to do this time after time. Also who is telling new beekeepers this method? No one anymore. But now you are awhere of it and can utilize it if you like. There is much to learn going the old way.