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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
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    713

    Default To combine or not to combine

    Here's the deal:

    A month ago I decided to requeen an aggressive hive. I removed the old queen, waited 24 hours, and inserted a new one. She was released several days later. I did a poor job of removing queen cells, however, and they quickly superseded her. Then, their new queen met her demise one way or another. One week ago, I watched a virgin queen come out of her cell into this hive. One week ago, they absolutely had a virgin queen. Yesterday, I could not find her (which is no shock). So, they are on their third queen in a month.

    So, next Saturday I will be looking again to see if she's there and laying. If she is not by then, I want to combine this hive with a queen right hive. Frankly, I'm scared to do that. I'm afraid that, even using the newspaper combine, they will kill the queen in the new hive. This might be irrational, but it feels like they've been throwing a tantrum ever since I removed the queen (which I sorely regret doing). That is to say, they rejected a perfectly good laying queen the second their precious virgin emerged. Then that one, presumably, disappeared.

    Anyway, is this irrational? Can I safely do the combine? Have I created a hive of bees who will stop at nothing until they have killed themselves?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,075

    Default Re: To combine or not to combine

    Do not regret getting rid of the aggressive queen. If you are going to have bees, you may as well be able to enjoy it. Some folks like to suit up & work in a cloud of angry bees, but not me.

    When you say "a month" , I'm assuming that is give or take a day or two? Because when you say you saw a new virgin emerge from her cell a week ago, that would mean approx. 3 weeks since you requeened? That's around how long it can take them to raise a queen, so it's almost guaranteed this virgin comes from your old queen. The new queen probably been killed straight off & they raised a virgin from existing young larvae. Considering the time frames involved that's the most likely explanation.

    So you don't really want this queen heading up your hive anyway.

    Just not seeing the virgin does not necessarily guarantee they don't have one so you need to check this before doing the combine. Easy, just give them a comb from the other hive with eggs, & 5 to 9 days later check to see if they started raising queen cells, that will tell you if they have a virgin or not.

    If they are genuinely queenless you could do a combine, or it is probably not too late to introduce a bought queen provided you give them a frame or two of brood at the same time you introduce the queen.

    They might be just nasty bees that are likely to always reject a new queen of different race, in that case you could do a combine, leave while so the old bees will die off, and then do a split & requeen.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    713

    Default Re: To combine or not to combine

    When you say "a month" , I'm assuming that is give or take a day or two? Because when you say you saw a new virgin emerge from her cell a week ago, that would mean approx. 3 weeks since you requeened? That's around how long it can take them to raise a queen, so it's almost guaranteed this virgin comes from your old queen. The new queen probably been killed straight off & they raised a virgin from existing young larvae. Considering the time frames involved that's the most likely explanation.
    Yes, the new queen is certainly from the old queen. However, they did not kill the new queen straight off. That was what was so frustrating about it. She crawled around for days and days and laid quite a few eggs in both chambers. As soon as the new queen hatched, she was toast.

    They might be just nasty bees that are likely to always reject a new queen of different race, in that case you could do a combine, leave while so the old bees will die off, and then do a split & requeen.
    That is my concern about combining. I'm afraid that this angry hive will kill the queen of the good hive if I combine them. Is this a valid concern?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,075

    Default Re: To combine or not to combine

    Yes it is but what is the configuration of the two hives, ie, how many boxes, how strong each? How close together are they?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    713

    Default Re: To combine or not to combine

    Yes it is but what is the configuration of the two hives, ie, how many boxes, how strong each? How close together are they?
    The two hives are about 15 feet apart. They both consist of a deep with 8-9 pulled frames and an undrawn medium super. They are both strong boxes.
    Try it. What could happen?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,075

    Default Re: To combine or not to combine

    OK well AFTER you have tested to make sure there is no virgin in the aggressive hive, take the lid off your good hive, put 2 sheets newspaper over the frames of the top super, poke a hole in the middle of the paper the size of your finger, put a queen excluder on the paper, then put both boxes of the other hive on top & close up. Leave undisturbed for 2 weeks, then rearrange the hive to suit.
    At the time you do the combine, make sure there is no young larvae in the top unit they could build a queen cell from. If there is, remove it first, shake the bees off & put it in the bottom unit. That's just one way, others might have some good suggestions also.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    713

    Default Re: To combine or not to combine

    I really appreciate your help here. Thank you!
    Try it. What could happen?

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