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  1. #1
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    Mar 2013
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    Default One weak and one strong hive

    I have a strong hive of carniolans just bursting at the seams with bees and a much slower weak hive of carniolans . The strong hive has all of the brood in the bottom deep and all the pollen honey ( syrup ) in the top deep , the top deep must weigh 70 or 80 pds and is just packed . I put a med super on 2 weeks ago and so far there not drawing any comb in it . Is the brood bottom and stores top normal and should I move some frames of brood over to the weak hive , if so how do I go about it . I've been feeding since day one , the weaker colony just got behind because it was pretty much dead when I got it home , so it was 2 weeks later when I got another nuc and it only had 3 frames of brood etc. in it .

  2. #2
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    Just got back from feeding the bees and I don't understand whats going on with the strong hive , they seem to be over crowded to me , there way more aggressive than my other hives , bees followed me for 60 ft. before leaving me alone , there bearding and covering the front of the hive , there is probably a couple hundred bees in the top empty super that I'm feeding them in but there not drawing comb in the top med super I added for honey . I'm at a lost , should I have added another deep brood chamber on top of the bottom brood chamber instead of the med super on top of the top deep full of stores. .

  3. #3
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    I'm afraid I'm going to loose this colony if I don't do something , need help .

  4. #4
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    May 2012
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    Brownsburg, Indiana, USA
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    141

    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    move several frames to the top super, this will help.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2013
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    Shickshinny, Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    Dave my two bottoms are deeps the top super is a med. or do you mean move bottom deep frames to the top deep . These carnis are real workers , this morning the Itailians are tucked inside !! the carnis are out working , its 64 degrees here this morning . It was a shame I lost the one nuc but the load of nucs came on a flatbed pickup 75 total nucs real hot day and in those white cardboard boxes with very little ventilation , I think they lost 8 nucs in that shipment , but they were kind enough to replace them , good folks .

  6. #6
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    Anymore ideas on this strong hive , I don't want mess things up if there ok , I think the weak hive will make it on its own but I'm really worried about the strong hive being overcrowded and swarming . The bottom deep is full of brood and nice bands of honey , the top deep is packed with all syrup- honey , I added the med super on 7/8 and as of 7/18 they hadn't drawn out any comb yet , they have gotten aggressive and the top empty super for my jar feeders have a couple hundred bees waiting for me when I feed them , they can eat 2 quarts in 24 hrs. Am I getting crazy for no reason or does something need to be done .Adding the med honey super didn't help at all , I thought it would give them more room if that was the problem .

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    OK, by this time of the season your bees probably aren't going to draw very much more comb unless a really good natural flow starts - which it might in Pennsylvania I suppose. Anyway, don't worry about that - either they will or they won't. If a good fall flow is at all likely do give them somewhere to put it.

    What you need to do is to equalize the two hives as much as possible - it will boost the weak one, and help to prevent the strong one from swarming. Equalize them by swapping frames of brood along with the clinging bees from the strong hive, and whatever comb or undrawn foundation is in the weak hive.

    A) Don't move one of the queens by mistake - the best way to avoid this is to find the queen and put her and the frame she is on in a safe place until you are finished with everything else - a nuc is nice for this, but you can just prop the frame up out of the way. The queen will stay right on the frame 99 44/100 % of the time, but if she does crawl off there will be a clump of bees with her so just look and make sure of what you are doing.

    B) If you find swarm cells - which you probably won't - I would tear them down. It's too late in the season to start a hive with a cell unless you have plenty of extra comb.

    C) As long as you don't move a queen there will be no fighting - bees fighting strange bees is a way overblown story. Seriously, don't worry about it.

    You can also swap the two hive locations to help equalize them if you think it is needed. I would not swap the brood frames and swap the locations on the same day. Give them a day or two to get used to it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    North Andover, MA
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    42

    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    is it possible they are honey bound ?
    if the honey gets too packed along the top of the frames in the top deep they might not go up to the box above.
    if you have an extra deep box you can try this
    put an empty deep box above the inner cover
    pull one of the packed frames from that top deep preferably out of the middle and put it up in that empty deep
    if the honey is capped scratch some of it to get them working it
    put an empty frame of foundation back in the space in the second deep
    that will get them moving up thru that medium box, they will empty out the frame you put up top
    and you have given them more room in the second deep if they were honey bound

  9. #9
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    David the only thought I had about doing this is giving the queen more room to lay will eventually lead to more bees and add to the overcrowding but would temporary postpone a swarm, am I not seeing the whole picture.

    Adson , The top deep is absolutely packed with all syrup / honey and no brood at all ,they are going through the med super to get to the syrup , I thought that would get them up there to draw it out , but hasn't worked .
    Thanks

  10. #10
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    Jan 2009
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    Giving the queen more room to lay is exactly what you want to do to prevent swarming. It sounds like you have over fed the strong hive. You need to inspect whenever you are feeding during the spring/summer season especially. If you see nectar being stored in the brood comb at this time of year you are feeding too much.

    Btw, when I mentioned removing swarm cells before I neglected to say that before doing that you must make sure that you have an actively laying queen. But you knew that already - right?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Washington County, Maine
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    David has given a good way to proceed - in a nutshell equalize the colonies. It is unlikely at this time in the season absent a good flow that the frames will get drawn in your honey super. That is a quandary all new beekeepers have to go through I am afraid. I'm trying to get a swarm to draw a couple of foundationless frames - they won't touch them and the next sunny day I'll need to replace them with drawn comb. I suggest you find a local club and arrange to get someone experienced to go through your hives with you. Folks at the state level (Pennsylvania State Beekeepers' Association) are most likely very busy getting ready for EAS, though the state association may be able to point you to someone local.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    Thanks for explaining whats going on, next year I'll be more careful when feeding , I do have a big goldenrod bloom in my immediate area even on my own property, is it possible they could fill some honey supers during its peak especially since they already have so much stored- if so leave my med honey super on and go ahead and equalize the two colonies and stop feeding right through the goldenrod bloom and into the fall.

  13. #13
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    Stop feeding for now, but keep an eye on them. Do your inspections.

  14. #14
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    Aug 2005
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    Washington County, Maine
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    It is possible but not probable since the super is not already drawn. Around here the first goldenrod does not yield nectar (but lots of pollen) and we need to be almost a month in to the goldenrod show before any nectar starts. I'm told that there are close to 100 varieties of goldenrod locally. I haven't taken the time to count.

  15. #15
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    If you want to boost the weak hive, some capped and emerging brood will boost them the quickest. The aggressiveness of the strong one makes me think you are in a dearth right now. So you also might steal a frame or two of honey for the weak one. Bees won't draw comb in a dearth without feed and feeding in a dearth tends to lead to robbing.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    I'm really bummed out , went up to switch the frames today and couldn't find the queen , looked through the frames two times , took my time, had the hive open for at least 30 mins or more , just couldn't spot her . I had a pretty good record of finding queens when my colonies were new , this was tuff the frames were coated thick on both sides and bees inside the box that I couldn't even check . They are drawing out the frames in the honey super and bringing in pollen big time .Any ideas , I don't know if I could spot her now with so many bees to look through , I'd hate to open them up again in 4 or 5 days and not find her .

  17. #17
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    Jan 2009
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    Looking for queens is one of the most frustrating time wasters there is - I do it too even though I know better. It sems like when you aren't looking for them they strut back and forth like show girls, and when you are they hide.

    Anyway, you need brood frames with bees on them to do this manipulation, so just move the frames you want to use along with some good open brood above an excluder - shake off enough bees to be sure that the queen stays below the excluder. Come back in an hour or so - or the next day - and you should have plenty of nurse bees - but not the queen - above the excluder.

    Compared with quickly finding the queen this seems like a pain in the butt. Compared to searching for the queen and not finding her it is way efficient.

  18. #18
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    David you kind of lost me on this ! Move the frames I want to use from the strong hive and put them in the upper deep of same hive ? and move the honey frames down . Don't own an excluder would have to order one . Run this by me again , I'm the slow kid on the block .

  19. #19
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    OK. So to keep from having to find the queen when taking brood or nurse bees from a hive - while being absolutely sure that you don't accidentally move the queen in the process.

    You need an excluder.

    Nurse bees are very attracted to open brood.

    So, If you shake almost all of the bees off of most of the frames of open brood one at a time and then look hard at them for a moment to make sure that the one bee still clinging to it is not the queen - then put those beeless brood frames in a spare empty box. Now you know that the queen is not in the box of brood, because there are very few bees in there at all, and you made sure that none of the few bees that there are is the queen. This might take 15 minutes. While you are at it put a frame or two of capped brood in the beeless box too - these are the frames that you want to use to start a new hive - or strengthen a weak hive.

    You can put some empty frames of foundation or empty comb in the main hive to replace the brood frames you have removed if you want to - but you don't really need to because you are going to put them right back in a day or so at the most - suit your self on that. If you put in extracted honey comb your queen will probably lay it full of eggs though.

    Now put the excluder on top of the main hive, then put the box of brood on top of that. Close it all up and go eat a sandwich or something. Come back in an hour or tomorrow at your convenience.

    When you come back that box of open brood will be full of mostly nurse bees, but the queen will still be below the excluder - so you can use any of the frames or bees in that box to make up a nucleus hive, or a cell builder, or to strengthen another hive without any fear of moving the queen. Also since most of those bees are nurse bees fewer of them will drift back to the old hive. Also, since they are nurse bees and not yet oriented to any hive you can just shake them off in front of a hive that you want to strengthen and they will climb right in and go to work.


    If you don't need a whole lot of nurse bees you don't have to move all of the open brood above the excluder. 2-3 frames will get you quite a few bees.

    When you are finished with what you are doing take out the excluder and put everything back more or less like it was.

    One word of warning - removing all of the nurse bees from a hive - which you almost can do with this manipulation - and leaving a lot of open brood behind makes it hard for the babies to get fed. This will stress any hive and can cause the expression of latent European Foul Brood under certain situations. Just exercise some judgement. Also feeding the hive for a few days will decrease that stress.

  20. #20
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: One weak and one strong hive

    OK , now I get it , thanks for the explanation , the strong hive is bearding so much now there pretty much sealing off the front entrance and cutting off all the ventilation that I have been trying to give them . Does it ever happen with a super fast growing colony like this that it would be better to add a third deep or do the medium honey supers pretty much accomplish the same thing as far as giving them more room , except not really giving the queen more room to lay in .

    When looking for a queen in such a big colony of bees would it be alright to search frame by frame and if you don't see the queen put the frame in a nuc temporarily while your searching , seems like it would make it easier getting frames in and out of the main box your looking in and maybe stop the queen from crawling onto a frame you already looked at .
    Last edited by laketrout; 07-29-2013 at 02:30 PM.

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