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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Fluvanna,Virginia,USA
    Posts
    26

    Default failing hive- newspaper combine

    Well, one out of my two hives had nothing but honey and pollen and doesn't have a hint of brood as every cell is either undrawn or filled with pollen or honey. I've been monitoring the falling brood levels for 2 weeks now. I went out and noticed that a bit of robbing has commenced from the strong hive.
    Since I can't add brood frames from the strong hive (failing hive is a single deep, while the successfull hive is 3 mediums-2 with brood), and there is absolutely no more brood left (even drone brood is hatched now), I elected to newspaper combine.
    I pulled the failing hive off of its stand, and added it over a sheet of newspaper to the successful hive, propping the top cover of the failing hive since it's hot, and to provide an entrance. This set off an epic, terrible bee battle on the weak hive's bottom board and around their feeder. I've been feeding both because they're so slow to increase, and because dearths here come and go quickly.
    I swept them off of the bottom board, but this just got them coming after me. Tons of smoke later, I'm hoping that they can sort this out with minimal casualties. I may just have been better off letting the failing hive fail. This way I'm hoping to at least let the "victorious" hive get all of the honey and pollen in the failing hive's nice full deep.
    Other notes:
    -No brood whatsoever in the failing hive. I checked every frame. Everything was either pollen or uncapped/capped honey, even in the center frames.
    -no visible sign of varroa, and curiously, no signs of SHB which I've seen in the past whenever brood levels are low. Likely that would have followed after this batch started to die off.
    -I left the inner cover over the weak hive (now supered on the strong hive), but propped the top board as it's around 90-95 and I've heard of newspaper combined hives completely dying due to the lack of ventilation from the paper.

    Questions:
    How stupid was this? Opinions wanted, feel free to bee brutal.
    When should I check them to see if the combine worked?
    Do I get rid of the propped outer cover once they've chewed through the newspaper?

    The only other options I can think of would have been to let it fail and possibly lose that honey and pollen or to requeen. No idea if they would have taken the queen anyway, or how she would have done in a nearly honeybound hive without any capped brood to support her once she laid the first eggs. I suspect the hive would have failed anyway unless I requeened 10 days ago or more in order to allow for enough nurse bees when the first brood hatched in 21 days.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Palermo, Maine, USA
    Posts
    724

    Default Re: failing hive- newspaper combine

    New beekeeper here, so it will be interesting to see what the experienced folks say.

    I believe that I would have stuck in some medium frames to rescue the hive.

    I do not understand about the fighting on the bottom board of the weak hive. Was it placed on the top of the stronger hive?
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    Ralph

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Fluvanna,Virginia,USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: failing hive- newspaper combine

    Quote Originally Posted by ralittlefield View Post

    I do not understand about the fighting on the bottom board of the weak hive. Was it placed on the top of the stronger hive?
    No. As soon as I opened up the weak hive, the stronger hive started robbing it.

    Mediums in the large frame would have likely been a mess. The bees in the weak hive are actually drawing the plasticell pretty neatly (when they actually draw it). All of my duragilt medium foundation in the other hive gets a tremendous amount of burr/cross comb. The bees can't draw it straight. Then again, they're the ones that are surviving, so I can't question success.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    allen,indiana,usa
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: failing hive- newspaper combine

    order a queen, she will come in the mail, and introduce her into the queenless hive. if there are still quite a few bees and haven't had a queen for some time, they should be eager to accept a new queen, and the hive will build back up in no time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default Re: failing hive- newspaper combine

    I might have tried adding a medium frame of open brood/eggs to the failing deep hive. Yes, they would have built comb in the gap, but that would have been a small price to pay if it saved the failing colony.

    Combining the two wasn't a bad choice, given you had limited options. A robbing frenzy can be pretty brutal to watch, but sometimes it doesn't take much to set one off. Check in a week or so, you should find that they've removed most of the newspaper. In summer heat usually prop the tops open, so you can leave it or close it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Fluvanna,Virginia,USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: failing hive- newspaper combine

    I propped the telescoping cover after the combine due to the heat. Went out the next day, and found that they had removed large amounts of the newspaper, and appear to have successfully combined. Very neat work. Under the SBB there are millions of bits of gray paper. The paper that stuck out from under the supers was neatly chewed with a nice yellow color to the chewed edge. I shut the top cover due to rain. I'll keep an eye out for bearding until I next open the hive.
    This should add a great deal of workers to the current hive. Assuming I can't split, I'd rather winter with one good hive than 2 weak ones. Also, this will eliminate my robbing worries, and gives me a chance to add upper entrances to my now extra telescoping and inner covers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Blackstone, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    85

    Default Re: failing hive- newspaper combine

    Be sure to watch them now for room. I combined a queenright have and laying worker hive a few weeks ago...converted the LW hive. But when we went in about 1/5 wks after the combine, we found queen cells, and luckily found them in time and re-split. Can't report success on a new queen yet, but hopefully she is in the making. Keep an eye on your's.....

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