I have a clolny that went queenless while I was neglecting it. It has some brood but it is all drone brood. I want to merge it with another colony. I assume a laying worker I see 2 options.
1. Use the newspaper trick just as if they were normal colonies I was joining.
2. Move the drone layer to another (100 yds away) location. Move the new host hive to the drone layers old location. Then shake out all the bees.
In 1, I'm afraid the laying workers will fight with my good queen.
In 2, I'm afraid I'll lose too many young bees that don't know where home is.
I'm eager for your thoughts.
I have often used the newspaper combine method and it worked about 75% of the time. But I had it fail twice in a row (on the same hive) this year. I lost two nice queens in some nice splits. I had tried the "shaking out" method where you just shake them out away from the hive and let them go back to the old location to get rid of the laying worker but she always finds her way back anyway. I hadn't considered the shaking out method in front of the other hives before this. The professionals seem to think it's best to just shake the drone layers in front of the hive you wish to boost or distribute them in front of several hives and remove the drone layers hive altogther. That way they get disoriented and they are the "newcomers" and have to be subservient to get accepted instead of being the agressors in a combine. I think this is what I would do. This way, she may find her way back, but she's the interloper and not the defender.
Of course you can put some of the unoccupied combs from the drone layers on the hive you're boosting after you shake off the bees or scrap it to get rid of the drone brood or freeze it to kill the drone brood and any Varroa mites and then give it to them. Depending on what you want.
Michael, could you explain how you had only 75% success in combining hives with newspaper? I'm about to cobine a weak hive with a strong one, and I'm wodering what can go wrong.
I had a drone layer hive that I combined with another hive using the newspaper method. Darn, I wish I could find my notebook so I could give you more details. I ended up leaving them with each other for several weeks, then split them again in mid-summer. They both seem to be doing well.
Sometimes the other colony, usually the stronger will not accept the merging colony and kill all the bees. It seems to me it happens more often in the fall, and if the colonys merging get threw hte newspaper to quickly. You will see a dead pile of bees infrount of the hive
>>laying workers will fight with my good queen.
Merging laying workers will NEVER work. Best thing to do with this colony is shake it out away from your beeyard and let the strays drit to the next hive. That way the layer workers don't make it back to the hives and cause problems. These bees in this type of hive are worthless anyway because of their age. Might get a little foraging out of them yet, but might also transmit disease to the other colonies. I usually just shake the hive out and carry on with my work.
It's easy to merge drone laying colonies in the summer. We do it all the time and don't bother with newspaper. We don't unite them with weak colonies, however. This time of year I wouldn't consider them worth saving. Bees need to be organized for winter. They also need to be strong colonies. Uniting the weak ones just cnfuses them. Spend your time on the good ones.
"Merging laying workers will NEVER work."
I have to disagree. I can't give you a percentage, but my experience is much like Michael's; it usually works. I do try to merge laying worker colonies with strong colonies, and I do use the newspaper method. I also spray the bottom (strong) colony topbars, the newspaper, and the laying worker colony (top) bottom bars with HBH sugar water. Don't know if it makes a difference but my combines usually work.
I guess I'll just shake them out a long way from the hives. I've read somewhere that the laying workers have never been outside so they can't find their way back. I never thought that the bees are too old to be worth anything. I'm trying to "take my losses in the fall", as someone advised; I think it was George Imirie. I've noticed the hives that go queenless(I've had 5 or 6 out of 19)seem to have a lot of honey. I guess it takes a lot to feed brood.
>Michael, could you explain how you had only 75% success in combining hives with newspaper? I'm about to cobine a weak hive with a strong one, and I'm wodering what can go wrong.
I have very good luck doing simple newspaper combines. The subject here is laying workers. When combining with a laying worker hive I have had only about 75% success. The problem is if you have one failure, I think it's likely you will only continue to have failures. I hate to waste queens on them.
>Merging laying workers will NEVER work.
I disagree. But I don't think the odds are good enough to waste a good queen on, but they are better than "never" by a long shot.
>I can't give you a percentage, but my experience is much like Michael's; it usually works. I do try to merge laying worker colonies with strong colonies, and I do use the newspaper method. I also spray the bottom (strong) colony topbars, the newspaper, and the laying worker colony (top) bottom bars with HBH sugar water. Don't know if it makes a difference but my combines usually work.
That might improve the odds. I never tried the HBH syrup. When I've been really determined to make it work, I've put the hives on top of each other seperated by a double screen board for a week or so and then done the newspaper combine. It suceeded on a hive that had already killed two queens doing newspaper combines. Maybe if you did the double screen board and then the HBH you'd get the odds up there good enough. But it's getting a bit late in the year for all of this. The new combined hive would still have to get organized before winter sets in.
>I guess I'll just shake them out a long way from the hives. I've read somewhere that the laying workers have never been outside so they can't find their way back.
That seems to be the generaly held view, but that doesn't coincide with my experience. I've tried shaking the laying workers out a ways from the hive and the laying worker always seems to find their way back. A lot of the nurse bees don't find their way back and drift into other hives and now I have a weaker hive with a laying worker.
I would shake all them out in front of the other colonies and remove the equipment from the laying worker hive.
From my experience, merging laying worker hives haven't ever worked. You still have the problem of the layer in the newly merged hive, if the layer hive is even accepted at all!!
Merging drone laying queens is a totally different story, I don't even bother finding the drone layer queen when merging.
Regardless, I think shaking the bees in the beeyard is the best way of dealing with the problem, No fuss, no muss,. quick clean and out of mind
I agree with Ian that it's the simplest most fool proof solution to the problem.
I think Ian says it all
just South of Lansing Michigan