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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Seattle, Wa, United States
    Posts
    14

    Default Combining swarms

    I have had 1 hive swarm 4 times. caught all four. swarm 1 is doing fine, swarm two looks to be queenless, swarm 3 I gave away, and swarm 4 is doing great too.

    after catching swarm 2 I gave them a frame of brood from the mother hive to help them get started, and 9 frames of plastic foundation in a deep box. that was on 6/1. ( 4 weeks ago). They have barely drawn any new comb, and basically just sit on the 1 frame with comb that I gave them to start with. I haven't seen the queen, and no new brood, though it's hard because they sit so tightly packed on that 1 frame you can barely see the comb. I am fairly certain this hive is queenless. (did not return from mating flight?)

    Swarm 4 is a week younger (3 weeks now). I put it in a deep with only 5 frames, flanked by campaign signs on either side.
    Within 10 days they had those 5 frames almost completely drawn. all but the 2 outermost sides. I did see the queen then, but no brood. today two frames had nice half circle patterns of capped and open brood on both sides.

    My plan for swarm 4 had always been to recombine it with whichever was weakest. And the plan was to use the newspaper method. But that was when I was still expecting the other hive to also have a queen.
    Now that I have 5 frames with a queen laying nicely, and basically 1 and 2 half frames with comb, honey, and pollen in it, and a couple 1000 bees on it, can I just add those 3 frames and bees into the deep that has the 5 with the laying queen? Or do they still need some form of introduction separation?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Augusta County, Va. U.S.A.
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Combining swarms

    I had a small swarm set for well over a month seemingly doing nothing. It took awhile for that virgin queen to get mated and now, about 2 months later, it is doing just fine. I still may combine it with another of the smaller swarms that I have.
    My latest swarm was a small swarm and I had nothing to hive it in. I decided to catch it anyway, for an experiment, and put it in a shallow super with thin foundation. I have trouble getting my hives to draw out foundation in honey supers. As they were filling up the hive, I started taking out 2 frames at a time, switching them with undrawn foundation from supers on other hives. These frames act as bait frames to get the hives to draw out foundation. It has worked great. Near the end of summer, I will probably pinch the queen and just set that super onto one of my hives.
    Robee

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,442

    Default Re: Combining swarms

    I would give your hive #2 a little more time for you to evaluate. Find a frame with eggs from one of your other colonies, shake all the bees off, and add it to hive #2. Check back in a week and see if you have a laying queen, or if they are building any queen cells. If they are building queen cells and there are no eggs present, then you can be fairly sure they are queenless and you could do a newspaper combine with one of your other colonies.

    Give it another week or two and see what you have. You don't want to do a combination with an unproven virgin queen who could end up killing your laying queen. I've done that before and lost the good queen and ended up with the dud surviving.
    To everything there is a season....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Seattle, Wa, United States
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Combining swarms

    Just to close this out, here is what I ended up doing:

    A local mentor suggested, since it was basically just 2 frames that I wanted to add to the hive, to prop up a board in front of the hive, shake the bees onto the board, and let them walk into the hive by themselves. By walking into the hive they are switching their allegiance to that hive's queen. Considering that these bees had been queenless for a while (they already had raised a couple drones ready to emerge) that switch of allegiance probably wasn't hard at all.

    that was on 7/4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbSenjE8biA

    I just checked on them (7/14). They have not started building out the 2nd deep we gave them, even the 1st deep still has 1 untouched frame. But I saw a bunch of supersedure cups, and 2 queen cells at the bottom of frames, one of them capped. Interesting. I am going to leave them to it.

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