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  1. #1

    Post

    I recently picked up a very small afterswarm (grapefruit sized), and at the same time discovered that my main hive lost its queen after swarming (I saw her about a month ago, with evidence of recent swarming, and now there is no brood, and no queen. There's some evidence of laying workers, but not much).

    I would like to combine the swarm with the queenless colony, which makes the most sense in my situation right now rather than trying to re-queen the big colony, and trying to limp the little one along into some kind of decent growth.

    In the past I have combined colonies but I don't remember exactly how I did it.

    What I'm planning on doing is building a box that sits in between some of the top bars in my queenless hive, with no bottom, and stretching newspaper between the two boxes to separate them temporarily, with some razor slits but in the newspaper to help them start chewing it apart. I remember that much of the procedure.

    The main question I have is, do I let both colonies have entrances until they have combined, so they can get in and out and get water? Or, do I shut one of them in by closing off their entrance? Leaving them open seems to make the most sense to me.

    The other question is about dealing with laying workers by combining colonies. I assume that the presence of the small colony's queen will shut down the laying workers, without me having to do the painful process of shaking out the queenless hive a few feet away from their current location (I've read advice to that effect, but have never done that).

    I've had fairly poor luck dealing with laying workers, and I understand that's generally a difficult thing for most people. I don't want to try to just give them a queen, as that's where my problem has always come in. Since I don't normally re-queen in the course of ordinary business, I don't have a good sense of queen introduction techniques, and I've lost something like 6 out of the 7 queens I"ve tried to introduce into queenless colonies in my beekeeping carreer.

    On the other hand, I've had good success with combining colonies when I've had two weak colonies to deal with.

    I assume that this is probably the best way to deal with laying workers? Also, in the past when I have had laying workers, there has been a lot of drone brood. Here, there's only one or two 1-inch patches of capped/nearly capped drone brood. The rest of the broodnest is almost completely filled in with nectar and honey and pollen (I guess I'm going to need to move those combs out of the way and add empties and the brood nest of the donor (smaller) colony, once a queen gets in there , if she's gonna have anywhere to lay eggs). It's been about a month, I think, since I checked the hive last (was out of town...). It makes me think that the laying has just started (what's the timeline on drone brood cappping?) or that there aren't very many of them laying, which I hope will make it easier to change their minds.

    I'll be doing this operation tomorrow, so any advice on that would be appreciated.


    thanks,
    Mark

    [size="1"][ May 31, 2006, 10:40 PM: Message edited by: girl Mark ][/size]
    urban top bar hives in Oakland and Berkeley, CA...

  2. #2

    Post

    oh and if anyone's got some swarm cells in their hive in the East Bay area, I"d be glad to take them off your hands in the next two/three days, and trade you something useful (dinner?) for the privelege.

    Mark
    urban top bar hives in Oakland and Berkeley, CA...

  3. #3

    Post

    Hi Mark"

    I just finished re queening a hive with a laying worker.

    I placed a caged queen in the hive and noted that the hive bees were still biting at the cage wire after 2 days.

    I removed all the frames with drone brood or eggs and replaced them with new foundation.

    After 4 days I checked the hive and a few were biting the wire but most were feeding the new queen.

    On day 5 none of the bees were biting at the cage wire.

    Removed the cork from the cage on day 5

    Checked them this afternoon (a week later), very large and pretty queen laying in the cells while I was holding the frame.

    I had an older friend suggest removeing the eggs and brood that the laying worker had laid

    (I think it helped) I was about ready to combine this hive when he made the suggestion.

    Good luck with your hive

  4. #4

    Post

    interesting, I hadn't bothered to observe that when I failed in my past requeening efforts.

    Thanks so much!

    Mark
    urban top bar hives in Oakland and Berkeley, CA...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    Actually removing the comb makes a lot of sense. queen pheremons are produced in the greatest quantities when the queen is actively laying, and pheremon production is suppressed a good deal when the queen is caged or otherwise prevented from laying. I would presume from the above posts and knowing something of pheremon production that shaking down a laying worker colony into a fresh hive (or basically just removing all layable combs) might very well supress the laying worker's egg laying pheremons as well.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  6. #6

    Post

    The version I heard (about shaking down) didnt' involve a new hive, it involved shaking them onto the ground elsewhere in the property, in order to disorient them and supposedly to prevent the laying workers from flying back to the original hive site. THe author of "wherever I read this" didn't really believe it works consistently (I think it was a beekeeping book rather than one of the forums). Otherwise the whole thing does indeed make sense in light of removing comb.

    I'm trying to avoid the mess that'll ensue from a shakedown (which is a pain with TBH anyway)

    Mark

    [size="1"][ June 01, 2006, 05:30 AM: Message edited by: girl Mark ][/size]
    urban top bar hives in Oakland and Berkeley, CA...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,408

    Post

    &gt;do I let both colonies have entrances until they have combined, so they can get in and out and get water?

    Yes.

    &gt; Or, do I shut one of them in by closing off their entrance?

    No.

    &gt;The other question is about dealing with laying workers by combining colonies. I assume that the presence of the small colony's queen will shut down the laying workers

    If they don't kill her, yes. But they sometimes do.

    &gt; without me having to do the painful process of shaking out the queenless hive a few feet away from their current location (I've read advice to that effect, but have never done that).

    The only use I see for shaking out is if you plan to call it quits on the laying worker hive and it will combine it with all your other hives with no problems.

    &gt;I've had fairly poor luck dealing with laying workers, and I understand that's generally a difficult thing for most people.

    Yes.

    &gt; I don't want to try to just give them a queen, as that's where my problem has always come in.

    Yes.

    &gt;Since I don't normally re-queen in the course of ordinary business, I don't have a good sense of queen introduction techniques, and I've lost something like 6 out of the 7 queens I"ve tried to introduce into queenless colonies in my beekeeping carreer.

    Laying worker hives are notorious for killing queens.

    &gt;On the other hand, I've had good success with combining colonies when I've had two weak colonies to deal with.

    But were they laying worker colonies? I've had the best luck with a double screen board for a few days first and then a combine. But even better luck if you give the laying worker hive some worker brood every week for a few weeks until they start a queen cell. A queen cell is a good indication they are ready for a queen. Then you can either let them raise one or give them one or do a combine with normal success rates.

    &gt;I assume that this is probably the best way to deal with laying workers?

    I have had laying workers kill queens when doing a combine. I would stack the deck as much as you can. Open worker brood supresses the laying workers.

    &gt;The version I heard (about shaking down) didnt' involve a new hive, it involved shaking them onto the ground elsewhere in the property, in order to disorient them and supposedly to prevent the laying workers from flying back to the original hive site. THe author of "wherever I read this" didn't really believe it works consistently

    The laying workers will return. But if the old hive isn't there, they are not accepted by the other hives that the workers drift into.

    &gt;I'm trying to avoid the mess that'll ensue from a shakedown (which is a pain with TBH anyway)

    It's really a "brush down" with a TBH. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8

    Post

    My friend Oskar added some good brood comb to my hive for me while I was out of town, and about two weeks later I got back and looked in. THere was still some sign of laying workers (double eggs and all) but they seemed to have either built some queen cells , or were working on old ones I neglected to remove (I _thought_ these were new queen cells though, maybe they had some abandoned/unfinished ones from before, and they were starting to build them out or something).

    However, the new (I think) queen cells weren't on the new comb from the viable hive but on the old brood area.

    I added some more comb from BeeBee's hive, and will report again what I see when I check on it in a few days. They're probably reaching the end of the workers' lifespan, so I"m going to lose them if I dont get this figured out quick- though there are still a lot of them. I"m going to step up the brood-comb-adding and empty-comb-removing if they don't start behaving.

    Fascinating stuff, thanks for all the advice in this thread.

    [size="1"][ June 22, 2006, 05:35 AM: Message edited by: girl Mark ][/size]
    urban top bar hives in Oakland and Berkeley, CA...

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