Combining 2 hives
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    Oklahoma USA
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    Default Combining 2 hives

    I have not done this yet, but will be trying it out this spring. I want to make 2 colonies in the same hive to prevent swarming, but without adding another hive. So I'm just going to take the old queen move her to the other end with open brood and stores empty frames, put divider board down the middle then let the other side raise a new queen or possibly introduce a queen I have

    So my question is around July/August I want to requeen and combine the 2 colonies back as one for the start of the build up to winter. Do I simply just kill both queens and remove the division board? Will this cause the bees to fight one another? Since I am hoping I can rear some good queens I will introduce one at this time. After I kill off the 2 queens do I wait a few hours then pull the divider board out and put queen cage in? I would think 24 hours would be to long to wait and each colony would be starting new QC.

    I know about the newspaper combine for langs but one of them is queen right, but I dont recall reading or hearing anything about combining 2 hives together to make one colony for winter with a new queen in a horizontal hive. I have heard people talk about it, but dont recall if I ever heard the process they use to do the combine at the end of the season.

    Thanks

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Combining 2 hives

    Quote Originally Posted by JustinS View Post
    ......I know about the newspaper combine for langs.... Thanks
    The exact same combine logic works for all hives (vertical or horizontal) - which you can look up.
    Your questions are universal and just look up the generic answers; there will be nothing special.
    OK, yes, your newspaper will be placed vertically (not horizontally) if you work the horizontal hive.

    One significant consideration I can see - each unit will have internal organization oriented with respect to their own separate entry before you start the combine.
    It makes sense to close off one of the entrances so that affected unit is forced to start using the other units entrance (otherwise, they have less of a stimuli to join the other unit).
    Upon completion of the combine, it will be reasonable to re-arrange the frames to better align with to the entrance to save the bees some unnecessary labor (brood by the entrance; stores farther away).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    Oklahoma USA
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    88

    Default

    Okay I didn't realize you still needed newspaper for queenless hives to combine. Makes sense just to drop a sheet of newspaper in place of the divison board.

    My thought was after the 2 hives are together and have one queen, taking all the brood frames and add them together in the middle of the hive and put stores after that. Use 2 divider boards to close off the dead space towards both ends and open the entrance in the front. My hive has an entrance on both sides plus an entrance in the middle.

    I was going to move the entire hive to the middle for winter (next year) Then come spring divide it to the 2 sides and have 2 colonies going during the season and then combine for winter and repeat. I figured that can be done to help sustain the swarm impulse and control the growth of making splits for adding additional hives. Not necessarily looking to add more hives

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Combining 2 hives

    Quote Originally Posted by JustinS View Post
    Okay I didn't realize you still needed newspaper for queenless hives to combine. Makes sense just to drop a sheet of newspaper in place of the divison board.

    My thought was after the 2 hives are together and have one queen, taking all the brood frames and add them together in the middle of the hive and put stores after that. Use 2 divider boards to close off the dead space towards both ends and open the entrance in the front. My hive has an entrance on both sides plus an entrance in the middle.

    I was going to move the entire hive to the middle for winter (next year) Then come spring divide it to the 2 sides and have 2 colonies going during the season and then combine for winter and repeat. I figured that can be done to help sustain the swarm impulse and control the growth of making splits for adding additional hives. Not necessarily looking to add more hives
    The newspaper is such a simple and effective way to prevent potential life loss - just do it and don't even question it.
    Too simple NOT to do it.
    As for me, I use paper towels as the same (exactly - as if it was a division board; just have it hanging on the face of one frame - all it is to it).
    I only use the towels for better hygiene (towels have no inks, dies, paint in them and better compatible with foods vs. the newspaper).

    I think you have a good idea in general.
    However, keep in mind - IF any of the temporary splits get too tight - they each are likely to swarm on you anyway.
    Heck, 2-frame nuc will swarm on you once they run out of space.

    Am pretty sure either (or both) early season, symmetric splits can run out of space and still swarm (unless you have a big enough hive).
    Instead, I would make asymmetric splits:
    - pull a queen completely out of the long hive into a nuc and use the nuc as a resource
    - run the long hive as a honey hive, let them have the entire space and fill the entire hive with as much honey as they can
    - keep moving the brood frames out of the resource nuc into your honey hive for extra labor (AND keep the nuc from swarming).

    That'd what I do.
    Symmetric splits may just work for you.
    I only feel you may end up with two lackluster units with unclear priority and unclear end results.
    If you keep bees to make some honey, then have them make some honey.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
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    432

    Default Re: Combining 2 hives

    Couple things to watch out for.

    First, if the division isn't airtight, you might find that the bees make their way to the side with the queen. That's a pretty powerful draw and can pull nurse bees (not the foragers) out of the queenless side. It's an argument for using a nuc for the queen.

    Second, be very careful that you can tell the difference between honey/drone comb, and worker comb. The worker brood comb is necessary for the queen (new or old) to raise more workers. She can't lay workers in the larger celled honey/drone comb. If you have frames with foundation, then you can disregard this caution.

    Third, the splitting is easy enough; the side with the queen (or the nuc with the queen) will have foragers in about 2 weeks.... but remember to either give the new side lots of stores and feed pollen or give them all the resources. No foragers means nothing to feed brood which means a stalled queen.

    Fourth, once you want to pull the plug on that side, and recombine... those foragers will be pretty confused. I have plugged the entrances (mine are holes) with wine corks and the foragers just kept trying... so next time I will completely visually change the "entrance" side so the foragers will "give up" and find the other side.

    I hate to just crush a queen, but if you don't want more hives, then that is what you must do. Good idea to keep the original queen around until the new queen has returned and started laying, and there is a nice brood pattern. Then you can dispatch the old queen, and use newspaper or paper towel to create a temporary barrier that the queenless side has to get through to exit the hive.

    Greg brings up an excellent point about running out of space. Keep in mind for every comb/frame of brood, TWO bars/frames of bees will emerge. Bees pack more tightly when they are head first instead of walking on the comb. So if you have 12 bars/frames on a given side, and the queen has more than 6 bars/frames of brood in the hive at a given time - they will completely fill the space and be ready to swarm. This is why I would not use half a hive unless it is to overwinter a colony, which is then given its own space come late spring (late April here).

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    Oklahoma USA
    Posts
    88

    Default

    Thanks for all the advice and suggestions everyone. I think I will build a nuc for this hive and split it like that. The running out of room I can see happening and thats not the goal. It's just a 19 bar top bar hive. Not very deep standard depth.

    I do have a 20 frame double deep layens that I am starting this year. The entrances I am putting on the front of the hive (2 per front side) during building it I thought about the bees getting confused with side entrances. I think this hive might have a better chance of keeping 2 colonies in one hive. 40 deep frames is alot of room. I dont know see if it works. I like to test things out.

    Making sure the division board is snug and bees cant get through. Need to check that for sure. Little details like that can be over looked and then when you notice to late. That would be my luck anyways. I enjoy the long hives I think more than any other type I have used.

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