combing nuc with 8 frame hive
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
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    Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
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    Default combing nuc with 8 frame hive

    Hey all,

    A continuation of my earlier thread with a specific question. In short, I have a queen-right 5 frame nuc colony (around 8 frames of bees/brood/stores, rest of the frames being drawn out). I want to combine this with a now-queenless 8 frame colony (2 deeps, 2 full medium supers). They will have been 24h queenless by time I introduce. Because I'd rather leave the supers on the accepting hive, I planned on taking the 8 frames from the nuc, placing in a 8 frame deep box and putting on the bottom of the accepting colony, separated by newspaper. That way I can leave the supers on top. But- I've read that unless I leave the inner cover on, the "top" hive could suffocate. I also read I shouldn't have any opening on the top, forcing them to mingle. Which is correct?

    Or, should I just spray the donor deep frames down with sugar water and put in on bottom of accepting hive without newspaper?

    thanks

    brad

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    3,220

    Default Re: combing nuc with 8 frame hive

    Brad, this may sound like dumb question, but why do you want to combine a very strong nuc with an already strong but queenless colony? I think that your flow is over like mine, or at least nearly so. Let the queenless colony continue to work whatever is out there and raise a new queen. Besides, it sounds like your "nuc" is ready for a double 8 frame hive of its own.

    Just move one of the frames with eggs over to the now queenless hive.

    Went to the other thread to remind myself of what you are experiencing.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
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    180

    Default Re: combing nuc with 8 frame hive

    thanks-- and hopefully my answer makes sense. Here's my rationale:

    The accepting hive was one of my 2 main colonies and was cranking until a swarm. Then I requeened and ended up with drone laying queen. So now the hive has loads of drone brood and very little worker brood. I'm thinking that it would be hard for this colony to recover and combining and making a single colony with 3 deeps and the supers made more sense than letting that now-weakened colony drift along with a gazillion drones going into the dearth.

    In addition to my other main colony that's doing well, I have another even stronger nuc that I'll keep as a single colony; this extra one was just made a few weeks ago for swarm prevention so I figured I'd now put it to good use.

    Is this not the right move?

  5. #4
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: combing nuc with 8 frame hive

    It is one of a few options that you have, none really better than the other. First step is to kill all the remaining drone brood. If it is on a frame with worker brood, scratch it open, if by itself remove the whole frame and freeze. This will help make sure the bees do not think the new queen is the one causing the drone brood pheromones. I suspect the drone layer was not smelling very queenlike in the first place. I would probably shake the bees off a frame of open brood from the nuc and put in the brood nest area of the receiving hive as an additional insurance policy. You need the old hive to think everything is right with the world. Once the queen has been accepted and the bees comingled, I would give them about three weeks and then split a small 4 frame nuc back out and let them raise a queen before it gets too late. For me, end of July is the latest for a walkaway split.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
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    Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: combing nuc with 8 frame hive

    thanks- that's good info. So first I'll scrape away the drone brood/do a final look for missed queen cells and then move the nuc box over.

    Alternatively I could shake the bees off the drone frames onto other frames, get rid of/freeze 8 frames of drone brood (I easily have that-- there's some worker brood but around 90% drone), getting rid of a box/condense that hive and then move nuc on top. PErhaps that would be overcrowding that hive. Maybe better to scrape the brood and then they can clean our and it'll be ready for new queen.

    Should I use the newspaper? And keep the inner cover/top open? Or does it need to be close up at the top?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: combing nuc with 8 frame hive

    Getting out of my experience level a bit. My opinion, based only on reasoning and what I have read, is to use the newspaper with a few slits in it, and an inner cover with an entrance or an Immerie shim so the bees in the upper box have a way in and out. The slits in the newspaper allow the smells to mingle and also will provide some of the ventilation you had concerns about.

    If you do not have an extra 24 hours to freeze the drone comb, just uncap it and stick it back in the hive. Be prepared for some really pissed off bees though. Use lots of smoke. That part is from experience!
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Williamsport, PA
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    451

    Default Re: combing nuc with 8 frame hive

    Look up Screen Combine posts by FlowerPlanter. I started doing those instead of newspaper combines. I make the entrances face opposite directions and every one I have done so far worked just fine.

    Edit: I did it for you because I want to bookmark it. This will come up a lot from now until the end of the season and I'd like to have it handy.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
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    180

    Default Re: combing nuc with 8 frame hive

    thanks Steve. Seems like a safer way to let them get used to each other. And JW.. not only will they be pissed from what I'm doing but it's going to be overcast and intermittently raining tomorrow as well. Perfect!

    Thanks all. Appreciate the advice

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Butler Co, Missouri, USA
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    416

    Default Re: combing nuc with 8 frame hive

    I do the screen combine that Steve refers to. I go ahead and let entrances face same direction. After a week, most of the bees will have already migrated to the queenrite side of the screen. Best use of my old screen bottom boards.
    Hindsight is 20/10, not 20/20...
    I always have an idea what I shouldn't have done after the fact.

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