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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
    Posts
    577

    Default combine swarms with colonies that swarmeds

    I have collected 4-5 swarms and have lost maybe 3-4. I also recently removed queens from 2 colonies that are packed and have swarm cells. I put the queens from these hives in 4 frame nuc boxes with 1 1/2 frames of brood and a frame of honey & pollen plus a frame of drawn or plain foundation.
    i am seeking advice on how to boost the population back up on these hives that swarmed. I've read about removing the queen as I've done and going back after a few dayz to remove all queen cells & reintroduce the queen. This is not an appealing process. I am wondering if I can use some of the bees from swarms I've caught by combining these bees with a depleted colony. many of the hives that swarmed have partially filled supers. Will I have to combine them in the traditional manner by putting a third deep on top of the double deep original hive? This will require removing the honey supers.
    Can I simply place the bees into new hives? I know I can do this witb nurse bees but I am not sure about doing it witb field bees. Obviously the hive they came from will have to be relocated or the hive they go into? Will the bees fight with new bees?
    If I reintroduce a queen from a hive that had swarm cells will I have to cage her as if she was a newly purchased queen?
    This method is difficult because there are jam packed hives and even if I kill all the swarm cells there is a chance a new, unmated, queen can kill the original queen.
    Basically I am looking for tried & true ways to boost swarm depleted hives AND retain the original.
    The way this swarm season is going my honey production goals are looking about 50%. I could end up with a lot more hives but I can increase my hive numbers at the end of the flow. I am trying to maximize honey now while the flow is just now busting wide open.
    thank
    Howard

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,311

    Default Re: combine swarms with colonies that swarmeds

    Don't think you will find a "tried and true" answer to your question. Most folks would not forfeit hive count for increased honey production, but I think it a viable persuit if you have more colonies than you want or need.

    What I would recommend is that you not add queenright colonies with the queen problems involved, but add the bees incrementally, frame at a time by shaking them out on the landing board of the colony to be bolstered. The effectivness of that technique has been demonstrated. The swarms have a large percentage of young bees that will not be needed in the swarmed colony, and they can graduate to foragers soon.
    First things, first:
    Order twice the supers you have on hand. Adding strength to a colony has more impact than you might guess.
    Open up any remains of the overhead reserve of capped honey at the top of the swarmed colonies. Note that the swarmed parent colony may be uncapping it now, and feeding on it, to renew it with this years fresh honey. Uncapped is good enough - a band of open cells at the top of the frame is what you want.
    Add an empty deep at the top of your weaker colonies for brood comb with adhereing bees. Transferred brood will be protected by the recipient hive and will add strength. Don't neglect to super below this deep at top. It will likely become a deep of honey during the flow - grunt!!
    Make provision for sale of the swarm queens.

    Now, you are ready to transfer bees and brood. Shake a frame of bees without brood in front of the production hives - they will enter peacefully under normal conditions. Go as fast or as slow as you want. We have done all the elements of this approach without problems, but we didn't do them for the purpose you have in mind.
    Good luck, and invest in a sturdy step ladder.
    Walt

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