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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Lebanon, Maine
    Posts
    103

    Default Combining Hives - who's on top?

    So, planning on combining two hives - one I think is a drone layer (no queen) the other just a week hive. The drone layer seems medium strength and so I was thinking of combining to that location. The drone layer also primarily uses top entrance while the weak hive predominantly uses bottom entrance. From what I've read, you normally close any top entrance, and also you tend to put queen on top.

    Can I put weak hive with queen on top, but leave entrance open for field bees from drone layer to come back into hive on top, thus perhaps speeding acceptance? Field bees would leave through bottom (due to newspaper) but renter through top entrance. Thoughts?? thanks!
    Chip Harlow

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    967

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    If you leave no entrance for ventilation, and the days are warm, you'll have a considerable number of bees dying from dehydration and overheating, based on my experience.
    One thirty year beekeeper i spoke to concerning combining drone laying colonies said he often uses a newspaper combine with no negative effects cause by drone laying bees involved.
    Try it and see what happens, but leave an upper entrance.
    Worst case, you lose some bees and gain experience.
    Best case, you get a stronger colony.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    East S.F. Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    I would place them so the bees can continue to use the entrances they are used to. Put the hive with queen on the bottom and leave both entrances open, at least at first. I've done this 3-4 times, and after being sure the bees had combined, closed the top entrance. It takes a couple of days for the top bees to figure out they have to use the bottom to return, but they do it. Of course, you could always leave both entrances and let them do what they want.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    I just did a newspaper combine. I put the new bees in the top deep both times. Actually, the deep was only used for the combine, then removed once the bees had proven acceptance (thoroughly chewed the newspaper). I actually did two combines to the same hive. Both times the bees I added were from the same original swarm. Once I was done combining I removed the upper deep to concentrate the bees to build out the lower brood box.
    Examining the hives, I didn't notice any signs of a failed combine (lots of dead bees outside) and the overall population is much greater, despite the accepting hive also having raised a new queen in that time frame. A lot is going on with that one poor hive, but it is pulling through!
    Good luck!
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,685

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    You might want to read up on laying workers on Michael Bush's website.

    I would shake out the laying worker hive and place the combs over the existing queen right colony.
    BeeCurious
    5 hives and 8 nucs................... Trying to think inside the box...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,954

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    MB's thoughts on giving a queen to a laying worker hive have you follow a procedure with the LW hive to separate the LW from the field force. I wouldn't skip this procedure before combining.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Lebanon, Maine
    Posts
    103

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    I was concerned with doing the combine and still having laying workers, and what they might do to the queen in the combined hive. So, perhaps that MB procedure and a combine: Do the combine, but instead of using newspaper, use a double screen, I'd put the weak hive w/ queen on top, and since the stronger hive with laying workers predominantly uses upper entrance, put them on bottom. Field workers would only be able to leave out lower entrance due to double screen, but would return in upper entrance and thus combine with other hive. I could then shake out lower with laying workers after several days. Thoughts?
    Chip Harlow

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,497

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    The problem, as I see it, is old bees. The laying worker colony has only old bees. The weak colony has predominantly old bees. To survive a Maine winter, a colony needs lots of young bees. You're uniting old bees. Old bees plus old bees equals old bees.

    Well, why not experiment? Put the weak colony on the laying worker colony, above an excluder. Dose them with syrup if you want. Then you'll know if the old bees from the LW colony, or the LWs themselves will travel up through an excluder and slaughter a queen.

    I would say they wouldn't.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Lebanon, Maine
    Posts
    103

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    So are you saying too late for a queen to prep for winter? and so let's experiment because it ain't goin to matter? That's not what I was hoping to hear. Too late to requeen as well then? The existing queen is a trooper and has been laying but hive was dealing with chalkbrood all spring/summer and just now starting to get over it. And I might add that she's a MP queen and I got faith!!

    Chip
    Chip Harlow

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,497

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    I'm saying it might not work, but take the opportunity to exeriment.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    East Peoria, IL
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    I have an aggressive hive that got insufferable and a closer inspection revealed no brood and probable laying workers. I split a nuc with a laying queen from a hive I was requeening anyway and used a double screen spacer for a few days and newspaper with queen excluder after that. Need to check them tomorrow and make sure they didn't ball the queen.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Lebanon, Maine
    Posts
    103

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    So, combination was successful as far as the queen goes. I put the queenright deep on top of LW deep, but left top opening for field bees to return into queenright colony. Queen survived and I have capped brood, maybe two or three frames. Zero drone brood! Still seeing some dried bodies from chalkbrood on screen bottom, so not sure if still an issue or not. Time to feed like crazy and hope and pray. Quite frankly, not expecting them to survive winter, but at least I gave them a fighting chance.
    Chip Harlow

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,954

    Default Re: Combining Hives - who's on top?

    Three cheers. Now stick the feed to 'em and get 'em ready for winter!
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

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