Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 23
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default Combine or wait?

    I have two hives- each in a single deep. We have not seen the marked queen in hive2 for 2-3 weeks (two pairs of eyes) and there are very few capped worker cells present. Hive1 definately has a queen as of yesterday so I would like to combine both hives for winter. Especially since hive1 has fewer bees and honey stores (but a viable queen) while hive 2 has plenty of honey stores but had/has? a gimpy queen (one hind leg drags) with constant supersedure cells the last couple of months.

    Should I wait until I see no more capped worker cells in hive2 or give it a go?

    I am at a beekeepers conference this weekend with Dr. Marla Spivak but her specialty is queen genetics so I thought I'd ask this question here.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,604

    Default

    If I myself had those 2 hives, I'd combine. I'd set the suspected queenless hive on top of the queenright hive, and remove all the hive and stand from the one that is removed. You say the one has little capped brood, is there any open brood or just hatched brood? If not, then it's probably queenless since 4 eyes or more checked it out. I'd destroy all queen cells and look thru it one more time to be as sure as you can the queen is gone.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,764

    Default

    I'd combine.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    You say the one has little capped brood, is there any open brood or just hatched brood?
    I was not able to find any open brood and I think I saw recently hatched brood although I was not specifically looking for them.

    One thing I was expecting if the hive was queenless was the so-called "queenless roar" when I opened it. Are they not doing it yet because they still have some brood?

    I'd set the suspected queenless hive on top of the queenright hive, and remove all the hive and stand from the one that is removed.
    What would be the advantage of this arrangement? I was kind of thinking that the bees would move up during winter into the honey-heavy hive which is queenless so it would be better to have it on top. But I am new so I don't know.

    The queenright hive also has plenty of cells open for laying if that makes any difference while the other is jam-packed with honey, nectar and pollen.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,764

    Default

    I've been queenless without any "roaring" unless I just don't hear it, which is definitely a possibility. Setting a queenless hive atop a queenright colony allows the pheromones to drift up to the queenless bees. Plus, you're really disturbing the colony the least when you just add a story and some bees.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,604

    Default

    This time of year, you won't likely hear the roaring of a queenless hive, and sometimes even in summer they don't roar.

    That placement I mentioned is because of the new location is where the queenright has always been with her on bottom, the field bees will come and go without upset or confusion. The field bees from the queenless hive will be the ones that have to find a new entrance location and bee accepted into the new queen. If they healthy bees, they should be accepted in without much problem. The bees will move the broodnest up or down as they see fit. If the hive you are joining into the queen right is more than one box, then go thru the boxes and condense it down to only the most fully used frames into a single box.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
    Posts
    1,083

    Default

    If you know you have a crippled queen, it would be best to squish her and then combine. Usually the bees would take care of that for you, but there's no sense taking a chance on losing the wrong queen. I definately wouldn't leave her and her hive seperate. This time of year a hive that supercedes is a dead hive because the virgin queen will stay a virgin queen unless she can pull off immaculate conception.
    doug

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    Thanks for the replies everyone.

    Ray, I did as you suggested and moved the queenless hive on top of the queenright hive. I moved the extra bottom board and top next to the front of the hive so hopefully the attached bees will reorient to the new situation and move in.

    They should be good to go through winter.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,604

    Default

    Yea, I think that should work out best. You don't need the bottom board and top next to the hive tho, the bees will get there without it, but it shouldn't hurt either. Good luck!
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    Is it normal to see some fighting after combining? I see a few fights and several dead bees at the entrance. Should I open it up and see what is going on?

    I put the bottom board and top near the hive since it is 54 degrees here now and I read bees won't fly at those temperatures.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    I checked them just now. There are about 3 dozen dead or dying bees at the front entrance. I cracked the top and there were hundreds of bees on the topbars fanning.

    Hopefully I did the right thing but regardless it's a done deal and the sun is setting now.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    I looked again just now and there are a hundred or more dead bees at the entrance. There may be even more but the fall leaves cover up a lot. Just in the one minute I was there I saw two bodies being dragged out.

    Can someone please answer my question as to whether this is normal?

    Should I open the lid and do an inspection?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,764

    Default

    Fighting is typical on a combined hive. They'll settle down.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    Ok thanks. I am still learning to assess what is normal behavior.

    Just to satisfy my own curiosity and see how these things typically work I did a very quick inspection of each hive body and there were still plenty of bees in there although there were about a hundred dead bees on top of the West SHB trap cover.

    I will let them settle in and not disturb them for some time.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Cambria County, PA US
    Posts
    404

    Default Fighting

    The fighting is a normal product of a quick combine. I like to use a sheet of newspaper without any slits cut in it, but if you do this you really need to make sure you allow in some way for ventilation. In situations where I've needed to do a quick combine, I've sprayed with sugarwater with a little bit of peppermint oil in it - spraying all over the bees at the top of the bottom hive, and then lightly over the face of each frame I place into the top box. This sugarwater with the peppermint scent masking allows the two to combine more gracefully, and I see very very little fighting this way.

    NOTE: In scenarios where both hives have queens, it is my personal opinion that these types of combines go more smoothly if the beekeeper pinches one queen at least 24 hours before the combine - but that's my personal opinion there.

    I hope this helps someone - I found it a useful trick.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    I did not mention it but actually I did combine with newspaper- a thickness of two sheets with numerous pinprick size holes in it.

    I had been led to believe this would result in very little fighting which is why I was so surprised. Next time I will use the method you mentioned because to me this is an unacceptable level of fighting. It was not wholesale carnage but still I lost several hundred bees.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
    Posts
    1,083

    Default

    Since the holes in the newspaper were only pin prick size, did you give a top enterance. In my experience, unless the opening in the newspaper is large enough to allow a fair amount of traffic flow, the bees tend not chew it open and if the top hive doesn't have their own enterance the will die off.
    doug

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,604

    Default

    fighting and dead bees is indication there was a queen in each hive when you joined. It'll be fighting now and one queen will win. 2 queen hives happen now and then, but not by combining like that. They work better when they do it themselves, this time of year it happens, is mother and daughter type arangement.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    Ray, I was just following the advice I received from you and others. I had an instinct there might be another queen involved but surpressed that because of what I was hearing from others with more years under their belt.

    I feel like I am flying blind and it is not a good feeling.

    Is combining such a gamble as it seems to be?

    (Any opinions are welcome).
    Last edited by Dr.Wax; 11-11-2008 at 12:59 AM.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,604

    Default

    There are reasons and times to combine. Combining a weak hive to a stronger hive, especially this time of year, for strength to overwinter is a good idea in my opinion. I will sometimes combine in the early spring to give a good boost just before a nectar flow. Some people don't worry about killing the weaker queen, some people do. I myself combine weaker to stronger, but make sure I've found and killed the weaker hive queen the day before I do the combine.

    I earlier recommended combining, but I also said to make sure there was no queen and to kill off any queen cells. What you have now will most likely do just fine. Not all bees will be killed and you'll end up with one hive that was stronger than either of the 2 were not combined.

    Let them bee for awhile, it's getting on towards time of year to not mess with them and let them organize themselves how they like for the colder weather now. Sometimes the hardest thing is to just let them bee and not mess with them, they will either make it or not, and we learn from the experience what to do or not do next time around.

    I've got 7 hives now. I fully expect 4 to make it, am pretty sure 5 will make it, and am thinking 2 probably won't make it thru till spring. I'm thinking I didn't get those 2 in good enough shape early enough for going over winter, and they are not in an ideal placement for winter but I've done what I can with the space I have. I'm not touching any of the 7 now till early spring as anything I do now in the cooler weather and wetter conditions will harm as much as help. I'll just wait and see what I have on a sunny day in early February and go from there.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads