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  1. #1
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    Dec 2011
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    Default 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.

    Matthew Davey
    Last edited by MattDavey; 11-11-2012 at 05:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Rupert, Idaho, USA
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    86

    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Was there a reason for having the entrances on the ends, instead of on the side, more or less adjacent to each other? I am very interested in this idea, in part because I have a long hive I built last winter and then did not use. It was built from planks salvaged from an old stock corral, and wound up being about as heavy as a coffin. A bit of work on it and I could put it to use with what seems to me would be an interesting project.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    The top entrances are in the front of the two roofs. I have them closed down to 1/4 each during winter and half the width of each roof for the rest if the year.

    Having the two entrances allows air movement through the hive without having a large number of bees fanning. This is because they only need bees fanning at one entrance, pulling the air out and so it gets drawn in from the other entrance.

    When I super, I use 10 frame or 2x4 frame boxes (half 10 frame boxes). This creates a "U" shape for the air flow.

    I do also have the ability to open up the ends on the base. This is mainly to be able to clean out the base. They could also be used as entrances if I wanted to.

    Matthew Davey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Interesting Matt. One thought I have...are you seeing an equal mixing of bees? Yellow and dark bees in both ends of your long hive, in nearly equal numbers, or does each end contain mostly bees from its own queen?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    They were acting just like separate colonies for about the first month or so after the partition was removed, but gradually mixed. (There was usually more bees at the Italian entrance). The mixing has been the most noticeable after the supers were added.

    I'm now seeing that both entrances have an equal number of bees nearly all day. If one entrance is too busy, bees will run over to the other entrance.

    I had a look a few times today to compare the ratios at each entrance. Before going into the numbers I should mention that the Italian side has a larger brood nest. Something like 2 or 3 frames more the the Carniolan brood nest.

    So the entrance on the Carniolan side ranged from 1/2 Italian and 1/2 Carniolan up to 2/3 Italian and 1/3 Carniolan.

    The entrance on the Italian side ranged from 2/3 Italian and 1/3 Carniolan up to 3/4 Italian and 1/4 Carniolan.

    I had a look in the brood nest on the Italian side the other day, but wasn't looking at the ratios. At a guess I would say it was more than 2/3, probably more like 3/4 Italian.

    I'm thinking the ratio is always going to be more than 50:50 as you have bees from the one queen emerging on that side and possibly not going far from the frame they emerged from while they are in the nursing stage. So would expect the ratio to be more around 2/3 to 1/3, with the bias on the queen's breed if both brood nests were the same size.

    Matthew Davey

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    This is an excellent post. You must be having fun with this hive. Thanks Matt.

    I would be interested in hearing what happens if and when one of the colonies supercedes their queen.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Thanks Michael, I am enjoying working with this hive.

    Both queens are not quite a year old, so we could be waiting a while for possible supercedure!
    Maybe they wouldn't replace a queen if she died.

    Matthew Davey

  8. #8
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    Weeki Wachee, Florida,USA
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Interesting please continue to share what you learn from this hive

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Quote Originally Posted by MattDavey View Post
    Maybe they wouldn't replace a queen if she died.

    Matthew Davey
    Yes, exactly. I've found they don't.

  10. #10
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    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    2,484

    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Very interesting. Thanks for writing this up.

    How is the rest of the hive configured? You say a double width hive, does that mean 20 frames horizontal? Much much space is given for brood? I guess you must be using queen excluders above the brood too, right? Do you have any pictures of this hive?

  11. #11
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    Jan 2011
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    Rupert, Idaho, USA
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    I too, would very much like to see any photos you could share. I'm not sure I clearly understand your supering method. Thanks again for this thread.
    jim

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    The hive is horizontal, 20 frames wide, with a vertical queen excluder in the centre. With top entrances, in the front of each roof, which come down the front of the hive a bit

    Here's a picture of it when I first made it:


    The supers from left to right are, 1/2 width 10 frame, 10 frame, then another 1/2 width 10 frame. The half width supers only fit 4 frames comfortably. I am also using these size boxes as Nucs. A queen excluder is under the 10 frame super.

    The good thing about the 1/2 width supers on each side is that it allows easy access to each broodnest without having to take the whole hive apart.

    For more photos see my website (which I haven't updated for quite a while):
    http://daveybees.wikidot.com/longhive

    Matthew Davey

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Carlton,WA,USA
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    I've experimented a lot with 2 queening. I've tried side by side, one queen over the other, and the "tower" system.

    But without much success. I would liken the situation to having two magnets next to each other with the "N" pole facing each other. Sooner or later one magnet flips and when it does, the bees move to the queen they favor and abandon the other.

    For example the tower system is two side by side hives, two brood chambers each, topped with excluders, and then a single stack of supers centered. Only the field bees mix in the supers. When the bees moved up into the supers, they avoided the center frames. When have you ever seen that? They would go up two or three supers and hug their side, doing everything they could to avoid contact with the bees from the other cluster. I suspect that in your situation you have something similar. Two hives that will do everything they can to avoid each other.

    In running 2 queens you are basically trying to produce a situation that is not natural for the hive. The only time the hive has two queens is in a supersedure and then only for a few weeks.

    However, I have had great success in honey production by combining two queens. If you takes two weak hives and combine them just before the honeyflow, the combined hive will produce more honey than a single strong hive.

    So, I often run two hives in a stack in the spring. Two boxes over two boxes. Entirely separate hives. I do this with my midiocre hives.

    In our area, the initial honeyflow is overwhelming. The key is to time the combine to be just prior to the honeyflow. In our area, the marker is the locust bloom. Almost always the main flow starts two weeks after the locust bloom fades. So, in the week after the locust bloom, I do a newspaper combine. Timing is everything.

    Not sure this would be successful in other areas where there is not the huge initial flow.

    "Met-How" Kraig

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Checked today and found lots of brood, of all ages! The Carniolan side's brood nest has been enlarged significantly. (I only checked the brood nests on both the sides.) The Italian brood nest is still the same size.

    The Carinolan brood nest now appears to fill the bottom box and the queen has moved up into the half width super. So if the nest is still to the middle, that would be about 12 frames of brood (It was about 6 or 7 last time after taking a couple of splits). The Italian brood nest would be still about 8 frames.

    A couple of random frames seem dedicated to pollen, so have up to 50% pollen. Rest of brood frames around 70% brood with mainly nectar around the edges. Saw a few queen cups (or should I say goblets) on each side of the hive but they were all empty. I removed them.

    The Carinolan side has a denser population of bees and has drawn out more comb. I think a lot of these bees are nurse bees. Probably because of the larger brood nest.

    Population mix still looks like the preference to queen's side is about 2/3 (at a guess). Good mix in the supers.

    The main flow has just started. So we'll see what happens now!


    Here's a picture of the hive with the supers on. (The thing on top is half a pallet.)



    Matthew Davey

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Quote Originally Posted by MethowKraig View Post
    I've experimented a lot with 2 queening. I've tried side by side, one queen over the other, and the "tower" system.

    But without much success. I would liken the situation to having two magnets next to each other with the "N" pole facing each other. Sooner or later one magnet flips and when it does, the bees move to the queen they favor and abandon the other.

    "Met-How" Kraig
    I haven't seen any evidence of them trying to avoid each other since putting the supers on. How did you do side by side? As this is quite different to one queen over another and the tower system. The brood nests are literally joined beside each other, with only a vertical queen excluder to keep the queens getting to each other. There was brood right up against the excluder on both sides last time I checked.

    I suppose whether it is successful or not depends on your goals. Mine are to:

    1. Get lots of comb built.
    2. Test a theory about bees won't swarm if there is a large amount of open brood.
    3. Get a honey crop.

    If the bees end up favouring one queen over the other, that is not a problem as they will be separated again in late autumn/fall ready for winter.

    Matthew Davey

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Checked the hive today. Still lots of brood! Lots of bees!

    The brood nests of both sides are still right up against the queen excluder. Actually found the Carniolan queen on the frame right next to the queen excluder. Her brood nest is right up into the bottom half of the half width super. Most brood frames on this side have a band of honey across the top, about 1/4 to 1/3 on some. Some of these frames are very wide at the top where the honey is, but normal width where the brood is.

    The Italian side has very tight brood, a few frames more than 90%, even 95% brood. More consistent width to the frames.

    The Carniolan side seems to be drawing wax much better than the Italian side. Not sure if it's because of the brood in the half width super.

    New foundationless frames in the half width supers get drawn out straight away. Foundationless frames in the 10 frame super hardly get touched. Found that it's best to get frames drawn in the half width super, then move them to the super. The entrances are via the half width supers.

    In terms of comb construction, the foundationless frames on the outside of the half width super get built with the "Y" to the outside (both sides of that box. They are 4 frame boxes). The two frames in the middle can be confused, having both "Y" and inverted "Y" on the same side. This is because they usually start two or three tear drop shaped comb. One of these may be "Y" the other inverted "Y". So I have been placing new frames on the outsides of these boxes.

    They are continuing to expand, most cells full, so I had to put another super on. Now have close to 36 frames drawn. Plus the 6 taken for a split. (The split has a very nice Carniolan queen, which has brood on most frames. They have also drawn out another frame and are working on a second.)

    Matthew Davey

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Thanks for the update Matthew. Please keep us abreast of progress with this very interesting experiment.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    1st off Matt - nice looking hive box - looks better than some of the furniture in my house. We've been running 2 queen units for over a decade and although the intial introduction process is time consuming (300 hives) the production is great. We have found the bees live longer, tend to be more gentle despite being mega populated, are less plaqued by health issues (except mites) and suprisingly well organized. We run ours vertically for the heat advangtage to the upper section early in the season and have been running some through the season. I'm curious about how you plan to super them (extra large queen excluder ?) and how much of a honey increase you see in the vertical configuration. We have had the same experiance with numbers between the carni's and Italians and found what usually happens with queen losses on Few we run through the winter were a result of the cluster moving below an excluder leaving the upper queen behind. Aren't you expecting mega clusters, albeit seperate, in need of large amounts of stores for winter? We generally run our 2 queen units together one brood cycle aiming to have a peak population timed with the start of a major honey flow. After 26 days we combine our 2 queen units and they are packed the rest of the season once the dual brood starts hatching.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Thanks Joel, good to hear from someone else running two queen hives.

    I'm not using queen excluders other than the vertical one in the centre of the double width box. The 10 frame super in the centre actually has a mesh on the bottom, similar to #8 hardware mesh, but this is plastic. So the brood nests form a "U" shape. The super in the middle has not had any queens lay in it as they stay in their own brood nests. The frames are foundationless so there is drone comb in almost every frame. (Also, I've noticed there is very little brace comb with the foundationless.) So there is no need for a queen to leave the brood nest to lay in drone comb.

    The next supers to go on top will be two normal 10 frame supers. (I actually have 2 half width supers on the top at the moment.)

    Already seeing much more honey than a usual first year hive at this time of year and they have been drawing out many frames of comb. Still a month to go until mid summer, although this year has a very good flow. Best I've seen for several years.

    In terms of preparing for winter I'm still not sure which way to go. May end up having to make up another hive. Considering they only wintered with 4 frames each, it's going to be difficult to cut them down to size, even if I remove one queen...

    Matthew Davey

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Two queen hive and different breeds

    Well I checked the hive today and the main flow is definitely over. Of the last four frames that were added two weeks ago only two an a half have been drawn and much of the nectar has been dried out and honey capped. So there's now a bit of empty comb in the supers and there was noticeably less bees on the Italian side. So had a look in the Italian side brood nest first.

    The Italian queen is gone! No eggs or open brood, but still a lot of capped brood, at least seven frames, a few over 60% capped. Also a lot of nectar in this brood nest. It may have been because I didn't keep up with them during the main flow. I was a bit late in adding the last lot of frames.

    There was only ONE capped queen cell! Five queen cups, but there were all empty except one may have had a egg, (but I had already removed the cup when I saw it.) Not sure how this egg fits with the timing...I haven't seen any evidence of a swarm or any noticeable difference in traffic at the entrances, so thinking they disposed of her.

    So then checked the Carniolan brood nest and found eggs and open brood, then found the queen on the third frame from the central excluder. The frame next to the excluder is entirely capped honey. I didn't check the other side of the brood nest, but last time I did the end frame was just capped honey and nectar, so her brood nest is only eight frames at most.

    I decided to take out one of the frames that was mostly capped honey with brood along the bottom third and swap it with a frame of mostly empty drawn comb. This frame of brood I have put in the top super with a queen excluder underneath to see if they will make queen cells. (I have a couple of people asking for a hive.) So I then notched several areas of cells that had eggs and young larvae, using tweezers. The tweezers make it easy to pull out the bottom cell walls.

    So we'll see if they successfully get any new queens...the Italian side has a queen cell. The top super on the Carniolan side has notched cells with eggs and very young larvae. The Carniolan queen's brood nest has a excluder on the side and above with only a small entrance at the base for Drones to get out. (14 frames to move around.) Hopefully any virgin queens won't get into that brood nest!

    Matthew Davey

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