What are your goals?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?
Thanks, WWW! Good ideas there.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.