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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    2,831

    Default Combining top bar hives

    What would be the best way to combine a very weak top bar hive with a stronger top bar hive. I know how to combine Lang type hives together, but not sure about KTBH's. The weaker hive has a queen (I saw her) but I'm almost certain something is wrong with her, she was a new queen this spring with package bees. She began laying nice solid worker pattern for about a month, then my latest inspection the other day revealed no eggs or larvae, and lots of sealed drone brood, and just a handful of sealed worker brood. The hive population seemed to me to be declining for the last couple weeks with lots of drone bees on the combs. Need some quick help on this one please. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Minerva, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Combining top bar hives

    See the Newspaper Combine thread below:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=229560

    Do you plan on pinching the weaker queen first? Not sure how this combine will work with two queens - they may battle it out with the wrong queen losing.

    You may want to consider taking a bar of brood from your strong hive, placing it in the weak hive, and let the bees decide if they want to replace her.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,797

    Default Re: Combining top bar hives

    You can get by just putting them together and smoking them heavily.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,831

    Default Re: Combining top bar hives

    If I were to combine them, I would do away with the queen from the weaker hive first. I really don't want to combine them, I spent alot of time building my first two KTBH's last winter and want to keep them both occupied. My first choice would be to boost the weak hive with a bar or two of sealed brood, and replace the queen. If I give the weak hive a bar of eggs to raise a new queen, should I kill the old queen at the same time, or wait a couple days after killing the queen to give them the eggs? Or can I just give them the eggs without killing the queen and hope that they can figure out for themselves that they need to replace the queen seeing that she has failed?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Sebastopol, Ca.
    Posts
    307

    Default Re: Combining top bar hives

    Never done it, but was told when there's a lot of capped drone brood, like up to 90%, that is a sign of swarming to commence. Other indications are queen cells, her helpers keeping her moving so she won't lay eggs, and putting her on a "diet" in preparation to swarm. Do these signs exist? If so, then swarming will be in the next few days, or so I've been told.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Sebastopol, Ca.
    Posts
    307

    Default Re: Combining top bar hives

    A beek came over yesterday and we noted that the girls I caught are queenless after a couple of weeks. It was the size of a baseball and after three weeks it still is, with drawn brownish comb! So she WAS there; since I have three standard size TBH, I took a one bar from a healthy hive and put it in this weak one. Will do it again Monday. This beek told me that an egg is best made into a queen within 24 hours of being laid, so I will do it again Thursday, and with any kind of luck they will raise one........will let you know.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,831

    Default Re: Combining top bar hives

    I saw the queen in the weak hive and she looked healthy like a normal laying queen, elongated swollen abdomen. I'm virtually sure that the hive isn't going to swarm as the population is not large enough to warrant isssuing a swarm.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Pike, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    287

    Default Re: Combining top bar hives

    another option could be to eliminate the old queen, let go queenless for a day- equalize the hives by giving the old one frames of open and sealed brood along with the bees. Introduce a new queen or let them raise a new one( I would go for the new queen to save time). The two hives should have enough time to build for the winter.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,831

    Default Re: Combining top bar hives

    Here's an update to my post of a couple days ago when I asked how to combine a weak
    TBH with a stronger one, thinking that the weak hive had a bad queen. Well, I judged the weak hive wrongly and prematurely, guess I have much to learn. It now appears that there is nothing wrong with the queen in the weak hive, I did a thorough inspection yesterday and found lots of newly layed eggs in areas that were occupied by sealed brood a weak earlier. I spotted the queen and she was much larger than she was a week ago too, so I came to the conclusion that the queen was honey bound and sealed brood bound both, which caused her to quit laying entirely for some period of time. We had an excellent spring buildup here, with nice warm sunny weather most of the time and hardly any rain to hamper gathering. I remember watching them bringing in so much pollen that I wondered where they were going to put it all, because at the time the queen was laying a nice solid brood pattern and they had only built out 4-5 top bars. The pollen and nectar were being stored in a circle completely around the patches of brood, they were cramming it into every cell available. I should have been feeding in new top bars into the brood nest to keep them from getting jammed up, I won't make that mistake again.

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