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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Atlanta, Ga
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    Default Combining two 3 lb packages?

    What would happen if you combined two 3 lb packages into one hive? Would that be too many bees and cause them to swarm? What if you used two deeps?

    I'm not planning on doing this, just curious if there would be an advantage over one package.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Rockford, MI
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    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    No advantage as far as I know. The queen is the key to populate quickly.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    boxford, mass.
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    65

    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    just a thought, Each package would be loyal too the queen that that came with them, so you'd have to remove one queen and let them get use to the other one, just like combine. Then the pro would be faster comb building, but at the cost of trying to feed so many there wouldnt be much honey production til things even out. I don't think theyd swarm seeing some swarms come out of a big hive with more bees then just two packages worth. Just my thought about it.

  4. #4
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    Aug 2006
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    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    Packages don't have to come with a queen so a person could buy two 3 lb pcks one with a queen and one without and combine them if they wanted. It is cheaper to buy a package without a queen than one with. Some people buy queenless packages to populate mating nucs.

    That being said I don't think there would be any benefit to combining two packs. The majority of the bees in a package are all in the nurse bee phase and you would be over populating the new hive with bees that have no job because of the lack of brood.

    Until 1986 most packages produced in the USA were sold into Canada, they only bought 2 lb packages at that time. Personally I think a 2 lb package is all that is needed to successfully start a colony anywhere in the USA. I would only sell 2 lbs packs if I thought I could sell them, but most people want 3 lbs now days.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Worcester County, Massachusetts
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    3,539

    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Beeman View Post
    The queen is the key to populate quickly.
    This is not true. Unless there is a specific issue with a queen, the limiting factor (assuming food is available) is generally the number of young bees that can care for the brood.

    deknow

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Rockford, MI
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    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    I should have been more concise with my reply. I meant he would populate quicker with two queens instead of just the one.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    South Jordan, Utah, USA
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    126

    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    Perhaps slightly off topic, but assuming all things equal, which would likely create a strong colony the fastest...combining the two packages, as suggested above, or installing one nuc?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    Actually there is some merit in combining 2-3lb packages in a cold climate. When heat is the limiting factor, the queen can lay more than twice what a 3 lb package queen could. The key would be to split with the extra queen just before they hit the population plateau. it is more labor, but potentially advantageous.

    Crazy Roland

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Atlanta, Ga
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    107

    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    Actually there is some merit in combining 2-3lb packages in a cold climate. When heat is the limiting factor, the queen can lay more than twice what a 3 lb package queen could. The key would be to split with the extra queen just before they hit the population plateau. it is more labor, but potentially advantageous.

    Crazy Roland
    I may try this and see how it turns out. Will be a fun project

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    During the spring buildup and main flow, having a larger population is an advantage. Once nectar and pollen resources decrease the extra population is a disadvantage.

    Also, they do things a lot quicker with a higher population, so you need to keep an eye on them and make sure they have enough space.

    Matthew Davey

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,340

    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    If the queen in one package was dead, I would combine them. If not, I would use them. The queen is too expensive to waste and 3 pounds is good enough to get a colony started well. More bees will speed things along a little, but not as much as you might think.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    1,082

    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    http://www.mdasplitter.com/
    Part of his out breeding mites he make splits with queen cells and let the new queens build up the population, then recombines them to take advantage of a flow.

    To me two hives is better than one.

  13. #13
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    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    Mr. Bush, I agree, but let's look at some other factors. IF you could buy a 6 lb package on April 15th(when the dandelions bloom), for 20 dollars less than 2-3lb packages, and the buy a better fecundated queen on June first for 20 dollars, would you come out ahead? I believe you would. June Queens are better than April Queens, and 6 lbs of bees can support more brood than 2 - 3lb hives of bees.

    Crazy Roland

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Scottsville ky. USA
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    Bee suppliers use to sell 5 pound packages I bought one in the early 90's from York bee company when it came it was 2 packages 1 three pound with queen and a queenless 2 pound which I dumped into one hive body which resulted in a full deep of bees more bees equals more comb being built faster so this has already been done.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    >Mr. Bush, I agree, but let's look at some other factors. IF you could buy a 6 lb package on April 15th(when the dandelions bloom), for 20 dollars less than 2-3lb packages, and the buy a better fecundated queen on June first for 20 dollars, would you come out ahead?

    Probably.

    > I believe you would. June Queens are better than April Queens, and 6 lbs of bees can support more brood than 2 - 3lb hives of bees.

    Especially in April when nights are still cold. But I don't know of anyone offering such a system.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    5,753

    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    6 lbs of bees sounds like you will have to do some preparations to advert swarming, and cut them down into two units at the minimum

    if you make up two 3 lbs hives, all that swarm work would be satisfied
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
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    2,887

    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >Mr. Bush, I agree, but let's look at some other factors. IF you could buy a 6 lb package on April 15th(when the dandelions bloom), for 20 dollars less than 2-3lb packages, and the buy a better fecundated queen on June first for 20 dollars, would you come out ahead?

    Probably.

    > I believe you would. June Queens are better than April Queens, and 6 lbs of bees can support more brood than 2 - 3lb hives of bees.

    Especially in April when nights are still cold. But I don't know of anyone offering such a system.
    If you want to try it Mike will have packages in VT by May 1st. They can come with or without queens. I will trade you packages for an equal value in nucs. I didn't do any nucs this year and have a few customers who want some.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    Ian - no worries, we are intensive and can handle overpopulation/swarming in our normal operations.

    I still like the idea of half the queens being from a latter batch, seeing as we see alot of troubles one and a half brood cycles into a package.

    Crazy Roland

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Sequim, WA
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Combining two 3 lb packages?

    Hello,
    That's a great thread. For one thing I sell 4# packages here in Washington. The colony builds up fast for our short season. Works great. I import 5# packages in Alaska. Works even better. People are very happy with them.
    Many bee keepers in Alaska double queen hives for more bees faster an the result is more honey.
    Feed like crazy an the wax will build up faster with more bees.
    The queen will only lay what the nurse bees can keep warm. This is for the cooler climates in the spring.
    Monitor them an give them the room they need. Don't crowd them or they will swarm.
    Good luck.

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