Two queen hive and different breeds
This year I decided to try a two queen hive. One queen is Italian and the other is Carniolan.
They started of as two separate Nucs, which I merged in a long (double width) hive using a vertical queen excluder. To merge I simply placed a frame of foundation on each side of the vertical excluder, then each colony on either side, with entrances at either end (top entrances).
Bees don't mind having more than one queen, you just need to keep the queens from getting to each other.
So they were both 4 frames each at the start of Winter (May). I had seen on the forums that a hive will often dispose of one of the queens coming into spring. I believe this is due to one queen starting to lay later than the other, producing less queen pheromones. So to avoid this I replace the vertical excluder with a plywood partition. Michael Palmer style I made it into a double Nuc (also called a divided deep). Placing the brood nest of each (only 1 or 2 frames by this stage) hard up against each side of the partition. Then fed for a few weeks to make sure they had enough stores.
In early spring (August) when the plum trees were in blossom I checked and found they both had at least 3 frames of brood. The Carniolans were still on 4 frames but the Italians had drawn out a couple of frames ( I assume with the feeding), so had 6 frames.
My theory is to merge again when each side has at least 3 frames of brood. This is so that the queens are both producing enough queen pheromone. They both had this amount, so I replaced the partition with the queen excluder. Again had a frame of foundation on each side of the excluder, to allow for the merge.
The population has grown fast and I have seen both queens several times since.
Having the different breeds also seems to get the best of both breeds. Where one is lacking, the other makes up for it. For example, my Italians are very gentle but don't deal with pests very well. The Carniolan are also very gentle but do deal with pests well. The double hive is doing much better than when the Italians were on their own. So a hygienic queen and a good honey producing (breed) queen could work well.
Of course they also have a higher population with the two queens. Although I still haven't used any smoke to work on this hive. I just have a cloud of bees hanging around if I remove one of the supers, because of the top entrances.
Checked today and they have now drawn at least 24 foundationless deep frames (only two of those could have been from feeding). I have also taken out two 3 frame splits. So they have gone from 8 frames at the start of winter (May) to a total (including the splits) of around 32 frames to now (November) and its only half way through the swarm season! On that note, no signs of wanting to swarm. I have been opening the broodnest with this hive.
So having two queens, and different breeds of queens is an option.
Last edited by MattDavey; 11-11-2012 at 06:30 AM.
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