Combining a queenless hive with a cross-combed hive
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Inver Grove Heights, MN, USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Combining a queenless hive with a cross-combed hive

    Hello.
    I have two (top bar) hives. One is strong but cross-combed, and I tried to requeen the other two weeks ago, but it ended up queenless. (I checked on it today: there is no brood except for a few (literally) emerging drones, and no larvae, but a good-sized honey strip on many of the bars.)
    I want to combine the two hives, so that the queenright hive gets a lot of good, straight comb. I might try a split next year.
    Would it work to just put a bar from the queenless hive into the other, maybe every few days or once a day?
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Karol

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
    Posts
    400

    Default Re: Combining a queenless hive with a cross-combed hive

    First you need to know why you could not requeen. Is there a virgin queen in there who will start laying soon? Are there the beginnings of drone laying workers? Cool trick to see if your hive has a queen - new comb that is built if they have a queen (even if she isn't laying yet) will be worker-sized cells, not the larger honey- or drone-sized cells. It is really hard to tell if your hive swarmed-queen cells are tucked between combs and hard to find, and can be torn down quickly once her majesty has become victorious. And while half the bees leave, a strong hive with several bars of capped brood will soon replace those numbers and will look just about as populous as they were.

    You really don't want to accidentally transfer another queen over.

    Second you need to tackle some of the cross comb.
    1. Get a long thin knife that is dedicated to top bar use. and a shorter one.
    2. Get your smoker going on.
    3. At the 1st cross combed zone, first cut the side attachments for 2 combs. Use the smoker to clear out bees.
    4. Then, use the long thin knife to cut slowly across, one side to the other, between the 2nd and 3rd bar - so keep the first 2 cross combed as a unit. Don't try to cut out a single bar. notice I said "across" - push the knife down next to a side wall, then with very small sawing strokes pull it across to the other side. Don't stick it down from the top repeatedly.
    5. I would do one pair every 5-7 days, and stop once you get into the brood nest pair - more on that later. Harvest any honey comb, even if uncapped, bee brush or large feather is your friend here. They can make more quickly if you feed continuously. If uncapped, just store in small jars, and only have 1 on the counter for consumption at a time, the rest in the fridge or freezer. I wouldn't give largely uncapped away, unless the recipient can handle using it quickly or keeping in fridge.

    It will spill a lot of honey, which is actually dangerous for bees, but you need to be able to at least manipulate pairs of bars. If you use a lot of smoke - you want to hear the bees "roar" from a lot of smoke - they will clear out somewhat, and the queen will definitely clear out. So it will help minimize the danger of killing lots of bees or the queen.

    Just remember they can draw out one bar every 5 days or so and time your inspections accordingly.

    Third, combining. Do not combine unless you have added eggs/larvae from the queenright hive - even just a broken comb section - and YES SEEN queen cells drawn out. The bees will move eggs so if adding broken comb from queenright, strap it to a bar, and be sure to check adjoining bars. You can make a saddle for broken comb with painters' tape wrapped in half, or yarn. Better with 2 people. ;/ Most importantly... If you just add comb to the rear of the queenright hive, there is a big problem - you will likely be adding brood comb behind honey comb. This is suboptimal for queen laying - she may not use the worker brood comb if it is behind a honey barrier. You need to have worker brood comb by worker brood comb, drone comb behind that (further from entrance) and honey comb (larger cells) behind the drone comb (if there is any). So adding comb willy-nilly is not a good plan. Hence the need to get into some of the wonky comb in the queenright hive - you need to place straight worker brood comb in with the rest of the brood nest, ideally next to eggs and larvae.

    good luck... you can do it...

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Yakima Co, WA, USA
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: Combining a queenless hive with a cross-combed hive

    How did things end up going?
    Meghan

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Inver Grove Heights, MN, USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: Combining a queenless hive with a cross-combed hive

    Ok, I guess.
    I was really confused at first, because they started building drone comb and then changed it to worker, but I've seen their queen (very fat and yellow, not the one I installed). I'm going to feed them.

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