Uniting Hives
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Thread: Uniting Hives

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    Default Uniting Hives

    It seems everyone likes the newspaper method of uniting two hives, but I've also heard of smoking heavy and spraying with vanilla to mask scents and simply combining and calling it done with no real long term introduction approach. Just wondering what people's thoughts are on this. I can't imagine large commercial outfits worrying about newspaper but they also realize that the bees are their livelihood. Thoughts?

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  3. #2
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    Mar 2015
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    Derry, New Hampshire
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    When a bad outcome is a big pile of dead bees I err on the side of the proven. cut slits in one piece of newspaper and they are through it in 24 hours. no long wait.
    Terrence

  4. #3
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    Dec 2015
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    Sawyer County,WI USA
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    We had a dink hive.(around mid June)..just wasn't doing as well as we expected despite a new queen. Then around the time we were deciding what to do with this dink hive we caught a swarm that was cast from one of our boomers.

    Now, most beekeepers are familiar with the tried and true method of hiving a swarm using a 'sheet placed in front of an empty hive' then dumping the swarm and watching the 'march' into the hive. Very cool to watch. Very easy to accomplish and 'easy' on the bees, and since they think that they selected the hive, they are more like to stick around.

    Well, this time we took the advise from someone (?) and first shook/dumped the bees that were in the dwindling hive right in front of the box (emptied every frame of bees, then returning the frames), then we immediately dumped the freshly caught swarm right behind that pile of bees, which quickly became just one pile of bees, which in less than ten minutes, began the march en mass into the hive 'together' with no fussing or fighting. or newspaper.

    With weaker colonies and a caught swarm, this particular method of combining worked pretty well for us and our bees....After a month together, we may even get a little honey from them...and we will definitely try the method again, no doubt....the 'show' being quite fascinating to watch even after seeing it many times...but just with hiving swarms....not combing the two.

    Seems we never go through a season without learning something new and useful. This particular discovery of combining a weak colony with a fresh swarm was a Highlight of the summer....so far!
    Last edited by drummerboy; 07-29-2017 at 03:56 AM. Reason: clarity

  5. #4
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    Grand Rapids MI USA
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    I just can't think of a easier way to combine (unless it's really windy). A piece of newspaper, couple slits, put the bottom board on top with a entrance reducer slld in (as a separate entrance) for a couple days. Done in a matter of minutes.
    While I don't check all the combines the day after, the ones I do, suffer zero fatalities.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    I should have added that I run singles so would prefer to unite into a single box as opposed to making a double and returning to knock them down to a single story.

  7. #6
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    Manassas, Virginia, USA
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    Newspaper is easy. The one tip I'd give is, when you first look at the bottom board after a newspaper combine, you'll probably be shocked to see grey fuzz all over the place. It looks like rampant mold or something. It is just chewed-up newspaper.

    If you want to do it the hard way, look up Snelgrove boards. They'll give you a headache. Then reach for whatever section of the paper you never read.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    I use newspaper, too. But using a Snelgrove board is not a "hard way", it's just that newspaper is the easier way.

    I don't usually combine two queenright colonies, however small they are, without removing one queen first.


    Nancy

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    I should have added that I run singles so would prefer to unite into a single box as opposed to making a double and returning to knock them down to a single story.
    I noticed your location is Vancouver, BC; you can over winter with singles?
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    I use newspaper, too. But using a Snelgrove board is not a "hard way", it's just that newspaper is the easier way.

    Nancy
    I say "hard" for two reasons. First, the Snelgrove board takes some thought. One needs to actually read up on how they work, and understand the bees. Second, you have to manipulate the hatches every few days for a while, followed by doing something with the remaining bees. As opposed to using a few sheets of the classifieds and walking away.

    Do I think the Snelgrove board is not worthwhile? If I did, I would not have just ordered one from Dadant. It would have been just the trick on a hive recently.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Eikel View Post
    I noticed your location is Vancouver, BC; you can over winter with singles?
    I'll bet Vancouver has little trouble overwintering bees, due to the moderating effects of coastal currents, and sheltering from wind by mountains. The place must be paradise for them in summer. They have some spectacular parks and gardens. Been there, done that, bought some honey.

  12. #11
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    Port Angeles, WA, USA
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    I've just combined smaller "hives" from queen castles together without issue, as long as i remove the queens from all but one the day before. I couldn't come up with a way to paper combine four 2 frame hives into one. It worked fine.

    I've also paper combined larger hives, and queenless swarms without issue as well.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    For our queen castle, that's our usual approach. If adjacent "apartments" are from the same donor hive, many of the bees are former hive-mates anyway. I suppose if it was a worry, one could make up some Masonite panels with holes in them, and close them off with newspaper, or double-screen them. But we've never seen a problem from just pulling the partition and letting them get acquainted, as long as there is only one queen. Our strongest nuc at present started out that way.

    If you rotate a queen castle, foragers will return to the face they are used to using, which means they shift the apartment they are returning to. It is like manipulating a Snelgrove board. We tried that this year, and did not see much evidence of fighting.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Eikel View Post
    I noticed your location is Vancouver, BC; you can over winter with singles?
    Overwintering singles in Vancouver is quite easy, dandelions are up mid to late Feb.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Eikel View Post
    I noticed your location is Vancouver, BC; you can over winter with singles?
    I'm betting Vancouver's winter isn't too far off of mine. I'm 16 miles south of Victoria and I've overwintered single 10frame mediums last winter without winter patties, worst winter I've seen here (ive been here a decade about). No losses at all. With good acclimated bees, our worry in these parts is moisture. I did feed the heck out of them in spring, our spring was really late and not that great.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    The reason the Snlegrove board isn't hard in the case of the bees is you don't have to fiddle with the doors. You just set it between the two boxes for a couple of days, with both of the front doors open. Bees will use them both - and because of the screen be comfortable with each when you remove the board. Easy-peasey.

    Nancy

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by whitebark View Post
    Overwintering singles in Vancouver is quite easy, dandelions are up mid to late Feb.

    Yes indeed, Vancouver is mild compared to Northern Wisconsin, Michigan's UP or Minnesota, where dandelions don't present until late March or early April and late frosts can and do occur into May.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    I knew your temps were moderated by the ocean but I didn't know it was that significant. Thanks for the education.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Uniting Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by whitebark View Post
    I should have added that I run singles so would prefer to unite into a single box as opposed to making a double and returning to knock them down to a single story.
    When doing combines like that, 2 weak singles into a single, or two nucs into a single. I kill one of the queens and lightly spray the bees of both hives with sugar water as I combine. I don't use vanilla or any other kind of scented or flavoured ingredients, just 1:1 sugar water with a trigger spray bottle. Never had a problem doing it this way myself.

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