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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dunlap, TN, USA
    Posts
    146

    Default Has anyone had a hive join another hive in mid-winter???

    I have (or had) two top bar hives this past summer that I'm overwintering now. I started my original hive from a package and then ordered a new queen and made a split later. Oddly enough my second hive seems more populated and robust going into winter than my original.

    Either way, over the past months I've seemed to notice less and less activity from my original hive until the point that I was pretty confident that it was going to die out. My second hive has been perfect this whole time. Every day we have that's a little warmer than normal they are working away and bringing in bits of pollen. I'll sometimes look through the window on the side of the hive and see them balled up together to stay warm on cooler days.

    Well, last night while I was out to feed my dog I decided to take a quick look through the windows of both hives, really just to see if the original still had any live bees balled together. It was 100% empty! The only bees I could see anywhere where just a few here and there dead on the bottom or side of comb. So then I go the the second hive and it's packed full of bees! It was cold last night too, and I know the usual size of the ball they are packed into in that hive. This was about twice the size as it normally is.

    The only thing I can really assume at this point is that the queen died out some way in the original hive and the workers have slowly migrated over to the other hive to join it.... Which I'm perfectly fine with. It will make it an easier split this spring with a nice population of established bees already in this hive. I just didn't know that they could/would do something like that. It may be perfectly normal and common but I have never heard of it before. Anyone had this happen before?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Has anyone had a hive join another hive in mid-winter???

    I can't recall ever hearing of one hive joining with another. Are they very close together?
    Jeffrey Maddox
    www.MaddoxBees.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Boundary Creek NB Canada
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: Has anyone had a hive join another hive in mid-winter???

    Yes,this will happen.The strong hive will grow from the weak one especially if it is down wind or get more sunlight than the other.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,706

    Default Re: Has anyone had a hive join another hive in mid-winter???

    I'm almost positive that my weaker hive joined the stronger hive (right next to each other) and took the queen with them.
    I will know for sure this spring if/when I see brood.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dunlap, TN, USA
    Posts
    146

    Default Re: Has anyone had a hive join another hive in mid-winter???

    Cool. Glad to hear that it's not extremely uncommon. They are very close together. Probably 4 or 5 feet apart.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,539

    Default Re: Has anyone had a hive join another hive in mid-winter???

    I think my brother's hives did that last year -- big strong one and a weak one that barely filled a deep. Both showed activity in the spring, but suddenly only the weak one still had bees, and it was bursting with them. Lots of mite feces in the old hive, no dead bees.

    I think they moved.

    Peter

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,556

    Default Re: Has anyone had a hive join another hive in mid-winter???

    Yes. Especially when they are nucs next to each other. I'm guess one senses it's too weak or the queen fails and they move next door.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Coopersville, Michigan
    Posts
    260

    Default Re: Has anyone had a hive join another hive in mid-winter???

    Wyatt Magnum has a nice short series in ABJ on usurption, which is also a possibility if they still had a functioning queen. I had one weak hive do it to another weak hive. Dead bees everywhere and they petered out after, but that was in midsummer.

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