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Thread: swapping hives

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    We've had a streak of warm sunny weather (low 70's), so I opened the hives today. One hive is really weak, essentially a grapefruit-sized cluster actually sitting on brood (1/3 of a frame on both sides).

    The other hive is booming - 2 full frames of brood, tons of bees.

    If I swap locations in the middle of another sunny day, I could pump up the numbers of the weak hive, right? What if the sunny day is followed by days of rain - any chance they will reject the new bees?

    Anything else I can do? They both have plenty of honey stores. . . .

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    medesto,indiana,usa
    Posts
    257

    Post

    Id cut my loses on the weak hive,maybe feed it and try to get it going on its own,but I wouldn't weaken a strong hive trying to save it.Your mainly just going to get field bees which aren't the best for raising brood.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Langley, B.C. Canada
    Posts
    413

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    If I have a very weak hive and I would like to make it stronger, I just swap positions with a strong hive. The bees from the strong hive will then enter the weak hive there-by increasing its population.

    Terry

  4. #4

    Post

    Just pull some frames of brood (with bees covering) and add them to the weak hive. These bees have never left and thus will not return home. I do this all the time and never have the battles that people claim will happen. Bees on brood are quite civilized. But make sure you move over enough bees to cover the brood.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    Oh, I forgot - ask a question to 3 beekeepers, get 4 different answers! [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Thanks for all the input. Not sure what I'm going to do yet - friday is supposed to be really nice again so I'll re-open and figure it out then.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    The Hudson Valley, NY
    Posts
    297

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    How about moving the weak colony into a nuc, if you have one? The bees would have less trouble controlling the temperature of a smaller space.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,305

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    I always try to minimize the space. The weaker the hive the more crtical this is. Sometimes they just got too small to hit critical mass and come back strong in the spring. Sometimes they just keep dwindling.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    156

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    A nuc fits 4 frames, right? Do you automatically feed them then? - or I guess since they only have 1 half frame of brood I could fill the rest with honey. It just seems like they need the reproductive space and yet they also need the honey. . .

    Sorry, I've never used nuc boxes before. It makes sense about the temperature and I've seen others use nucs, I just don't quite get all the details.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,305

    Post

    Most nuc boxes are five frames, but you can buy boxes from Brushy Mt that are five or eight (besides the standard 10). I like to use the box that fits the bees when they are struggling.

    Part of the reason you get different answers isn't because swapping places won't boost the weak hive. I think everyone would agree that it would. But the question is, why is the weak hive a weak hive? If it dwindled before, will it simply dwindle again? If so, then have you just wasted the bees that were in a productive hive trying to save one that wouldn't make it?

    I think you have to learn some of these things the hard way, but sometimes a hive is small because it went into winter small because of a late split or a late swarm and with a little help it might take off. Sometimes it's small because it was failing last fall and it is just continuing to fail. In which case it may be more prudent to just let them go, or requeen then and see if it brings them back.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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