Adding bees to weak hives..
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  1. #1
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    Sep 2003
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    Carp, Ontario, Canada
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    Question

    Hello All,

    I have few hives came a little weak out of the winter which I want to add a frame or two of bees into, What would be the best method to do that?

    Regards,

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Spartanburg, SC
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    What I'm gonna do is spray the old hive and the new frames of bees and brood with sugar syrup with a few drops of essential oil added to the syrup. From what I have heard this will desguise the pheremones. You could also use other essential oils such as wintergreen or speariment. Others with more experience may have better advice.

  4. #3
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    Take a frame of emerging brood. Shake the bees off at the entrnace of the weak hive. Put the frame of emerging brood in the brood nest of the weak hive. The field bees will fly home, the nurse bees will wander into the nearest hive and the emerging bees will quickly boost the population.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  5. #4
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    Mr. Bush, what about in those german videos (you know the ones...) where the lady with no protective clothing is constantly shaking bees from frames into strange hives...I thought it was OK?

  6. #5
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    Shaking field bees into a strange hive is sure to cause fighting due to the unwelcome phermones of the new comers, they are often attacked upon entry and will return to the orginal hive if they survive to leave. If you shake in enough and they happen across the strange queen they may do here in as well. As Michael indicated nurse bees are usually accepted. Another method of equalization, one of the most important manipulations of the season IMO, is to reverse locations between a strong hive and a weak hive. The returning field bees, fat with nectar and pollen will be accepted and quickly swell your weak hive with stores to support fast growth. it will also minimize swarming in your stronger hives.

  7. #6
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    amazing - thanks Joel. Unwelcome pheremones. I always see bees kissing, I suppose they are really shaking hands, saying, I'm one of you. They also maay seek out the queen and attack her. I did not know that! Reversing locations sounds pretty interesting.

  8. #7
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    Sep 2003
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    The problem is there is no any brood yet, I opened one of the strong hives yesterday there only fresh eggs I guess because I gave them pollen during the weekend.

    The method Janice mentioned is nice but I don’t know how successful will it be since there will be field bees in these sprayed frames I will introduce, I did that last year also during this time (without spraying the frames with syrup), the field bees returned to their original hives and since there is absolutely no resource for the bee outside in this time of the year so they went back to the week hives and rob it, so I lost most of the hives which I added bees to, I don’t know if spraying the frames with syrup and essential oil will make any different, it seems like it will prevent the fight between the bees in the hive and the newly added bees but will it prevent the field bees from getting back to their hives?

  9. #8
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    >Mr. Bush, what about in those german videos (you know the ones...) where the lady with no protective clothing is constantly shaking bees from frames into strange hives...I thought it was OK?

    You can get away with many things under ideal circumstances. Good circumstances are things like a flow, shaking a frame from more than one hive to cause more confusion. A weak hive tends not to fight, but sometimes the bees from the strong hive will go after the queen. It's the little things that add up in either direction.

    Many times in beekeeping, if a little is bad more is better. In other words, in this case, you shake one frame from one hive in they fight. That's a little confusion. You shake several from several hives and you get a lot of confusion. A lot of confusion causes less fighting.

    Another way to maximize acceptance and confusion is to shake a few bees from several hives into a box for about two hours and then dump those bees into the weak hive.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  10. #9
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    Assure that the weak hive actually has a queen.
    Open the strong hive and locate the queen and set that frame aside.
    Count up frames of sealed brood between the hives and move them WITH ADHERING BEES until the hives are the same.
    Place the sealed frames centered then move feed frames to both sides.
    There will be absolutly no fighting whatsoever.
    You can get by with this right up and slightly into the honey flow.
    When our hives go to California we Mix and match until all hives are THE SAME.
    Don't worry about fighting.There is none.
    The only bees that died this year in CA were the ones I squished.
    I have exactly ONE more hive than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond dispute!

  11. #10
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    Hey Harry,

    So are the feed frames drawn comb sprayed with syrup, frame feeders full of syrup, or capped honey? Does it matter? Are these feed frames separating this new addition from the rest? Seems like honey or frame feeders would need to be moved out soon after.

    [size="1"][ April 01, 2006, 09:27 PM: Message edited by: wade ][/size]
    Time wounds all heals.

  12. #11
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    To strengthen a weak colony, I would add a frame that has a medium sized patch of capped brood with adhering bees, and shake another frame of bees off at the entrance. It is important when adding brood in early spring that small patches and extra bees be added, because in Ontario during early spring, the cluster may be forced to abandon the brood if cold weather were to set in. It is also very important to maintain the integrity of the broodnest when adding brood, if you spread out the nest too much they will reconfigure it to fit their strength and abandon brood if need be.

    One thing I did not see recommended above and the main reason why I chimed in,,,
    Is that a weak hive may be reflective of some underlying problems. Even if these weak colonies appear to be healthy, a record of this must be made of the fact that they came out of winter weak, this should be done in comparison to your other colonies when judging strength. The weak colonies should only be strengthened as a stop gap measure, and only enough so that they do not perish until further assessments or requeening can be made later on in spring. Other than strengthen of colonies as a stop gap or equalizing measure, colonies that continue to need a boost should be eliminated, and not be coddled in this fashion, as this would be paramount to propping up bad genetics which may have a negative effect on breeding.

  13. #12
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    We no longer exchange frames between hives, expcept for queenless hives which need eggs to produce an emergency queen, due to the risks of exchanging problems such as AFB, chalkbrood, mites, and other pest or disease that may be present. It may be less of a problem in smaller operations though if you know your hives well.

    Some very good points here about why the weak hive is weak. You don't want to spread any problems to the strong hive.

    [size="1"][ April 02, 2006, 09:33 AM: Message edited by: Joel ][/size]

  14. #13
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    >>>So are the feed frames drawn comb sprayed with syrup, frame feeders full of syrup, or capped honey? Does it matter? Are these feed frames separating this new addition from the rest? Seems like honey or frame feeders would need to be moved out soon after.<<<

    They are all the same. When we get done, all of the hives are the same, identical.
    Then they get new queens shortly, or in the fall.

    >>>Some very good points here about why the weak hive is weak. You don't want to spread any problems to the strong hive<<<


    They are all the same. When we get done, all of the hives are the same, identical.
    Then they get new queens shortly, or in the fall.


    I have exactly ONE more hive than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond dispute!

  15. #14
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    Thanks for the reply Harry but you misunderstood my question. Can you define "feed frame?" It appears that their purpose is to isolate the new bees from the other bees. Is this correct?

    [size="1"][ April 03, 2006, 09:52 AM: Message edited by: wade ][/size]
    Time wounds all heals.

  16. #15
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    Olympia Washington
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    Default Re: Adding bees to weak hives..

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Take a frame of emerging brood. Shake the bees off at the entrnace of the weak hive. Put the frame of emerging brood in the brood nest of the weak hive. The field bees will fly home, the nurse bees will wander into the nearest hive and the emerging bees will quickly boost the population.
    Hi Michael

    Coming out of winter I lost a Queen and the bees in the hive have dwindled. I replaced the Queen and found she wasn't laying, my bees continued to dwindle. I put in a frame of capped brood from another hive. Many of the bees died before emerging. I suspect there were not enough bees to keep the capped brood warm. I also have another hive that has a Queen with a small amount of bees. She seemed to be doing fairly well. She was laying and had a small amount of capped brood. Yesterday I checked the hive and some of the capped brood is dying. The bees that are in there are huddled up in a corner with the Queen and are ignoring the capped brood. The same thing happened with the other hive. Last night I put my Queen under a push in cage ( just in case) and combined the 2 hives with Newspaper. It has been in the 70's here during the day but has turned colder at night again. Down in the 40's. I don't want to add more capped brood for fear the same thing will happen but I need more Nurse bees to help this now combined hive out. I was thinking about taking a couple of frames out of my big busy hive and setting them off to the side in a separate box for a couple of hrs. I figure the foragers will fly back to their hive. I would then add what bees are left to the weak hive. I am assuming all the bees that will be left will be Nurse Bees. What do you think? Can you help me out here I am really starting to get frustrated. Because of our unexpected huge amount of snow this winter I have had some serious issues with 3 of my hives. I am at a deadlock on what to do. Thanks Linda

  17. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Greenwich, New York, USA
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    Default

    Michael has a fine solution. I had a similar problem this Spring. Turned out that they had too few bees and too much room. Adding bees is risky business as the new bees can sometimes reject the existing emerging brood. In my case I restricted their space and added a few honey frames to keep them from starving and focus on their brood. They are now thriving but still need limited space. Took me years to realize how too much room creates any number of problems for weak hives.

  18. #17

    Default Re: Adding bees to weak hives..

    You guys know that this is a 13 year old thread......right?
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  19. #18
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Adding bees to weak hives..

    > Took me years to realize how too much room creates any number of problems for weak hives.

    Yes.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesspace.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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