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I've got 3 colonies that are very strong this year. I wish they were all that strong. I've got several others that are weaker. Should I combine the weaker ones to make all strong ones?
 

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I've got 3 colonies that are very strong this year. I wish they were all that strong. I've got several others that are weaker. Should I combine the weaker ones to make all strong ones?
What are your goals?

It is early and weak colonies could possibly be strong by the end of summer. They could be used to add new genetics by requeening them. You could combine them.

You could try putting them into a nuc box.

Tom
 

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Combine if you want honey. Keep separate if you want hive numbers.
 

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I'm wondering when is it a good idea to combine or join hives. Only when queenless? Or are there other good reasons, like having strong production hives?
 

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I have never needed to combine 2 complete production hives to produce 1 strong production hives, usually the weak hive will respond quite well from 2 to 4 frames of brood with clinging nurse bees being added to it. I have combined nucs into queenless hives at different times when needed but that is the main reason I keep 2 nucs on hand at all times.

Swarming is always an issue in the spring when you have really strong hives, normally I will have 2 or 3 of my 8 hives get really strong in the weeks leading up to the honey flow and I know they will likely swarm on me so I will remove at least 2 or more frames of capped brood with clinging nurse bees from each of these strong hives and add the frames to the weaker hives. This cools down the strong hives and boosts the weaker hives which balances all of them to an equal strength and helps reduce the chance of swarming.

Along with this frame manipulation I am running 3 deeps and in early April I place the brood chamber on the bottom and checkerboard the upper 2 deeps which also helps control the swarm impulse by supplying the hive with plenty of room to expand. When the honey flow arrives I have power house hives that are primed with plenty of field bees to gather nectar.
 

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I have never needed to combine 2 complete production hives to produce 1 strong production hives, usually the weak hive will respond quite well from 2 to 4 frames of brood with clinging nurse bees being added to it. I have combined nucs into queenless hives at different times when needed but that is the main reason I keep 2 nucs on hand at all times.

Swarming is always an issue in the spring when you have really strong hives, normally I will have 2 or 3 of my 8 hives get really strong in the weeks leading up to the honey flow and I know they will likely swarm on me so I will remove at least 2 or more frames of capped brood with clinging nurse bees from each of these strong hives and add the frames to the weaker hives. This cools down the strong hives and boosts the weaker hives which balances all of them to an equal strength and helps reduce the chance of swarming.

Along with this frame manipulation I am running 3 deeps and in early April I place the brood chamber on the bottom and checkerboard the upper 2 deeps which also helps control the swarm impulse by supplying the hive with plenty of room to expand. When the honey flow arrives I have power house hives that are primed with plenty of field bees to gather nectar.
Thanks, WWW! Good ideas there.

So no need to shake bees off the brood frames back into the donor hive to keep the bees from fighting when placed into the recipient hive?
 

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No need to shake off nurse bees the other hive will readily accept the newcomers with no problems, the clinging nurse bees will be needed to keep the brood comb warm due to the weak hive having less bees. A word of caution, check the frames and make sure the queen from the strong hive isn't being transferred as well. I prefer to do these frame manipulations when I first see drone cells in the hives, then if a queen is accidentally transferred to the weak hive the strong one will be able to requeen itself.

This process of management keeps me at 8 hives, I am not one to split hives for swarm prevention.
 
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