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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Tbh combine or winter in same hive?

    So I have two tbhs that are weak. They both have a brood nest of approx five combs. One is seems a bit weak and the other just lacks honey. Well they both lack honey. I am trying to fed them, but they are slow at taking the sugar syrup. I have added lemongrass oil and honey. They do not appear to have any brood disease. So I am not sure what do so with them. At this point if they both perished this winter I would cut all the combs and place them in Lang frames.

    So my questions...should I combine them, leave them alone, or try to hive them in a single tbh? I have a 4 ft tbh that I could fit them all in with a fb in between. I don't think that the fb is air tight, but I would fix that with silicone or newspaper or something.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,457

    Default Re: Tbh combine or winter in same hive?

    I'm not sure you would gain anything by combining them then separating them with a FB. Still two colonies but in the same TBH.
    Not quite sure.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: Tbh combine or winter in same hive?

    They would gain some heat by sharing the same hive space. It would sort of be like stacking nucs to winter. I understand that heat rises, but they may gain some benefit.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Essex, England, UK
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Tbh combine or winter in same hive?

    I would guess the idea is that two colonys in one hive should benefit them insulation wise. Not sure I would go down that path, I would just keep them seperate, insulate each one individually, leave them to it and see how they are in spring.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,438

    Default Re: Tbh combine or winter in same hive?

    Weird, my bees run through sugar water very quickly. Could it be they are on some other source for forage?

    I would leave them separated for the winter, think of them as two Nucs. Hopefully you can feed them fondant to help them make it through the winter. He who's name can not be spoken has a video on YouTube showing how he fills old brood comb with fondant. I've also see another video that showed someone (I can't remember his name) using old brood come to hold sugar water. You could also make candy boards and feed fondant that way. I would wait until later in the year before you feed them fondant. We still have a decent month of forage left down here, but you probably don't have that much time before hard frosts.

    The good thing is that it sounds like you have two first year hives, if they make it through the winter you should have a better second year.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: Tbh combine or winter in same hive?

    Oh we are well past any forage around here. This was a second year hive that I split after I found swarm cells. I am going to check on my feeders, which I moved closer to the brood nest (edit-I literally pushed the empty combs back to slide the feeder forward and put empty top bars over it), to see if they are taking feed faster in this fashion. My Warre and Langs will down any feed I give them pretty much overnight.

    Feeding fondant is something that I am struggling with. I have no problem doing it, but I'm not sure the best way to do it in a TBH. In my Warre or Lang you just place a slab above the cluster and they are good to go. I suppose I could always drill a few holes in one of the top bars for the bees to get access. The temperatures likely won't get warm enough for me to open the hive until March. If the weather gods don't smile upon me I may have to wait until April for good enough temps. So scraping fondant in an old brood comb may not be an option until early spring.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,438

    Default Re: Tbh combine or winter in same hive?

    You can make a frame to hold the fondant. Replace the first free top bar (or more, depending on the size of the frame you make) with the frame. This would go just in front of the follower board. I wouldn't drill holes in the top myself. You can put this in even if it was below freezing, since the exposure would be for a very short period of time.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: Tbh combine or winter in same hive?

    Well the bees seem to be taking the sugar syrup better now. Last year I placed the syrup behind the last comb. Apparently it is to far away this year. So I moved some combs back. I was even able to take a small partial comb and put it into the pail. This brings the bees very close and they use the adjacent comb and the comb hanging into the feeder as a ladder. So I may be able to pump enough 2:1 into them yet.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Greenwood, Indiana
    Posts
    182

    Default Re: Tbh combine or winter in same hive?

    I have bees in hives 1 and 5. Hive 1 evidently swarmed, and I trided to give them sugar water, but they would not use it; however, they seem to be working on their own by bringing in pollen in spite of hive 1's being a weak, small poputlated hive after the swarm left. Hive 5 used to be the weak one; now it's crowded with bees and is taking sugar water by the gallon weekly. I gave up on trying to feed hive 1, and I closed it up as if I were getting it ready for winter, i.e., I gave up on it, but wish it well... It's on its own now. Hive five has what looks like tens of millions of bees bringing in nectar and pollen and devouring gallons of sugar water... go figure. Last month I thought that hive 5 was possibly a lost cause. I'm going to continue feeding sugar water to hive 5, but, honestly, I don't know where they're putting all of it that they're bringing in... plus what I'm feeding them because they're not building out comb that fast. Both hives 1 and 5 have about 22 bars filled... FINE... hope they make it through winter. I have not take a spoon full of their honey for myself and don't care. Hopefully, next year I can get at least one bars worth, but if I shouldn't, I wont, and I really won't care. My hope is that they will have lots of drawn out comb in the space provided, and continue to exist as a colony in spite of swarming and a myriad of other problems that have plagued hives especially in the last 25 years.
    This is their first year, and believe me, I will NOT be feeding bees next year. Good heavens, if a hive can't fill 17 brood bars and 14 honey bars and prepare for the 2013 winter with those, than why am I messing with top bar hives.
    My original intention/hope was that they would live/prosper as if they were in a tree. I'll see what happens next year, but whatever, NEXT YEAR I will not be BABYING them like I did this year; they'll probably appreciate my getting the hell out of their lives. I'd sure like to steal some of their stores next year though.
    Last edited by Hoosier; 09-28-2012 at 09:15 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Branson, MO
    Posts
    573

    Default Re: Tbh combine or winter in same hive?

    My idea for the 2 colonies in one hive is to keep both queens, I am in the same boat and not sure if the 2 weak hives will make the winter but I would like to keep the queens. I have my FB in and sealed and will have an entrance at each end. I plan to make the move today unless someone on the queen site can let me know how to keep a queen alive if removed and then I will put all of the bars in the one side. The hive would still be small enough to keep the Fb in for the winter,

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,720

    Default Re: Tbh combine or winter in same hive?

    The thing with these weak hives, is why are they weak? If they have a problem now at summers end when most hives are strong, it will possibly worsen through winter and the hive could be lost. Is there a way to test for varroa mites?

    The ones that swarmed, could simply be that they sent out a prime swarm, and then more after swarms, which can leave the hive in dire circumstances. But has the new queen mated and started laying normally? If so, and all appears normal just short on bees, if all equipment is standard you can transfer some brood and bees from a strong hive to a weak one.

    But the ones that are weak for no apparent reason, I would definately find some way to check varroa numbers.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

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