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Thread: Bee Whisperer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Sad Bee Whisperer

    Hello everyone. I have only two years of experience in the bee world, so I need input. Question: Last fall I caught two small swarms in one general area. I was told, by an experienced bee person, to go ahead an just combine the swarms into one hive, and they would "take care of themselves." Fighting between the bees started imediately. Within three days, half of the bees were dead; including both queens. Needless to say, I could not get a queen and the bees lasted about six weeks before dying. Did I do something wrong, or was I misinformed?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    badly misinformed.

    welcome to beesource bw. what's your plan for this year?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Greene, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    ordered three boxes of bees. Should be here in a couple of weeks. All prepared with hives, etc. I will see what I can do. I am reading everything and talking to folks. Seems like a lot of different views out there.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    Welcome to Beesource!

    It is possible to combine swarms or other bee colonies, but the general concept is to remove one of the queens, then allow the queenless bees to be queenless for a few days before meeting their new queen.

    One technique for doing this is called a "newspaper combine". Here's a thread on the subject:
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ombine-details
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #5
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    Squarepeg; how long have you been doing this? Any tips for when my bees get here?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    RS; thank you. I was just reading something about the newspaper combining idea. Not sure I get it yet, but I will look into it more. So, I take it from your experience, what I did was not good. ???

  7. #7
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    it was predictable that the two swarms and their queens would fight. like rader said, it would have been alright if you would have killed one of the queens first. the newspaper method lets the two groups of bees get used to each other.

    sounds like you are on the right track be reading up on it all you can, and you are right, lots of different opinions out there.

    i am starting my fourth season, still just a beginner.

    this is a good place to ask questions, you might want to see if there are any bee clubs near you.

    good luck with your new colonies!
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    I don't have personal experience combining hives - I prefer to split them!

    But the concept of combining two small swarms is not the problem, it likely the problem was the manner in which you did the combine. Its possible the other guy assumed you already knew how to do a combine, but its also possible he could have been misinformed himself.

    Whether or not combining two small swarms is the best approach depends on how much empty equipment you have available, time of year, forage available, beekeeping style, etc. Beekeeping often doesn't have a "standard" solution.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Pickens County, South Carolina, US
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    Welcome to the site. Interesting read.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    Welcome aboard.

    I would not jump to the conclusion that your were misinformed, perhaps the information was just misunderstood. You absolutely can combine two swarms and the advice was probably good advice considering the time of the year. However; there are steps that must be taken to do a combine successfully as other here have pointed out.

    There are also still a lot of old myths and wives tales that surround beekeeping activities.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    I am pretty sure it was more to do with my lack of knowledge and experience than the information I received. They say hindsight is 20/20. I think the newspaper idea would have made it work. I really appreciate the information from everyone.
    No one famous.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    The newspaper method would only slow down the 2 queens duking it out.
    Buy the ticket, take the ride. -H.S. Thompson

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    I think others were talking about removing one queen. After a few days, the queenless swarm would adopt the other queen; hopefully. Is that correct?
    No one famous.

  14. #14
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    Alachua County, FL, USA
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    Welcome BW! Removing one queen the two colonies would readily combine, paper or not.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  15. #15
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    Las Vegas, Clark, Nevada, USA
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    I think you mainly had very bad luck but maybe one of the problems was not to kill one of the queens. I remember an old saying that went something like a swarm of bees in May is worth a ton of hay but a swarm of bees in July isn't worth a fly.I too have been advised to unite small swarms and expect to feed them so they don't die during the first winter. In the fall did you still see plenty of bees gathering pollen? If I had similar swarms I would try it and look for eggs with the hopes of the bees making a queen. If no queens and no eggs there was no way for the hive to get a new queen.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    bee whisperer, this past fall was marked by an unusually high number of late swarms issuing. they were reported from different parts of the country, and the folks who have been doing this for many years said it was the most they remembered seeing in a long time.

    i had a few of these in my yard, and i just let them go because it was too late to get them established before winter.

    the consensus was that they were not true reproductive or overcrowding swarms, but rather small swarms that issued because of supercedure.

    it may have been because of the early spring last year, that some of the queens started failing at the end of summer and the bees decided to requeen themselves.

    if that's the case, it might have turned out that neither of the two queens would have been good enough to make it through the winter.

    with bees it's a lot of fun to try things and see what happens, and you'll learn more that way than anything else. at least you got some hands on experience messing around with them, and that will be a big help as you get started this year.

    good luck!
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    Squarepeg; thank you for the encouraging words. I am having fun and learning a lot. I love information like this. It is a good thing to hear from someone who has experience.
    No one famous.

  18. #18
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    Swarms often combine on their own, and a fresh swarm combined with a fresh swarm often don't fight. But often is not never...

    I would have put them in separate boxes and tried to get two colonies out of it...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    Good info Michael. Thank you.
    No one famous.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Bee Whisperer

    Anyone ever seen these hive stands before?PVC Hive Stand 3.jpg
    No one famous.

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