To combine or not to combine, that is the question (well, one of them).
I'm a newbie. Green as green can be - I've read tons, watched a thousand how-to videos, but I'm still green. I do have two hives going ... but just barely. I need some advice.
Hive 1: a friend's bees swarmed, she captured the swarm, queen and all, and gave it to me. I installed it in early May. I fed them 1:1 sugar water and left them alone for a couple of weeks. When I inspected, they only had comb on one bar and it wasn't full. I pulled the bar out and I thought I was being careful but I was not careful enough - comb fell off. (I'm going foundationless. Well, actually, I'm going top-bar but bees are bees, right? So I don't think this is just a top-bar issue but I will post over there if you think I should.) The comb did have brood of all stages on it but it was very, very heavy with all the syrup they had stored and it was very, very soft. I tied it back on the bar, put it back in the hive, and hoped for the best. I checked them this past Saturday and they have built new comb, using the old comb (the part I tied on was almost completely gone). But I did not see brood. Their numbers are dwindling, of course. There was a small cluster inside, near the comb, and the comb was full of bees working, but I did not see brood in any stage. So I'm thinking they might be queenless. Maybe I killed her in my clumsiness during that first inspection . . .
Hive 2: (also top bar) - bees vacummed out of a basement wall. What a job!!! This was a couple of weekends ago. I'm guessing we got about a pound of bees, but we were also able to get some comb with brood of all stages on it. I didn't see any queen cells, and I know they may not make a queen, but I installed them anyway, hoping they would make themselves a queen. I checked them yesterday and they were busy working on the comb I had put in - they had enlarged it just a little and I didn't do a really close inspection because there were lots of bees on the comb, but I did see there is still some capped brood that still hasn't hatched.
I thought it might be helpful to combine these two little hives since I was pretty sure the first hive was queenless and the second hive still maybe has a slim chance of making a queen. But when I put the bar from hive 1 into hive 2, the hive 1 bar went crazy. They definitely roared. And they started flying out. So I immediately put them back into hive 1 and decided that maybe there was a queen inside that little cluster that's there near the comb.
Should I just leave the two hives be and see what happens? Maybe order a queen for hive 2?
Should I try to put the hive 2 bees in hive 1?
Should I try again to put hive 1 bees into hive 2 using a newspaper divider?
Should I go vacuum more bees from the basement to add to both hives? That would increase their numbers temporarily . . . and I can get more comb from the basement (and get stung 20 more times, but, oh well. )
Should I just give up for this year and start over next year?
Thanks for any thoughts. Sorry this is such a long post.