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Discussion Starter #1
Is it common practice to place strong colonies a substantial distance from weak colonies or nucs? I beefed up 2 weak colonies last weak with some nurse bees and I'm pretty sure that the majority of the bees I added have found their way into a strong colony that is very close by. Do think they drifted? If so how far away should I have colonies of differing strength?
 

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It happens more with Italains than Carnis, but yes, drifting occurs to some degree. I don't think having them next to strong hive makes it any worse. Having bees next to each other at all, of course contributes. I have hives right against each other. But I don't have Italians that are so prone to drift.
 

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a strong constant prevailing wind will also cause bees to drift (most predictable downwind with a heavy nectar load). I do not think this outcome is bee tribe related phenomenon.
 

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If all your hive fronts look the same, ie, painted the same color, that will also contribute to drifting. You can paint different shapes on your hive fronts, in different colors to help the girls find their way home. You can also offset your entrances, some high, some low, which will also help.
 

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Wade,

I’ll be brave and go against the trend here,,,


I feel that what you are experiencing is NOT drifting, and does not apply in this case.
No mater where you placed these colonies you beefed up, the same amount of bees probably would have flown back to the mother colony.

The definition of Drifting bees is: “The failure of bees to return to their own hive in an apiary containing many colonies. Young bees tend to drift more than older bees, and bees from small colonies tend to drift into larger colonies.”

What did your bees do?,,,
they probably flew back to their “own colony” and did not drift.

The bees returned to their ‘own hive’ and did not accept the “drifting” that you the beekeeper tried to impose on them.

Although bees from small colonies will tend to drift to larger colonies, this happens little by littlie over a period of time and doubt that the loss of bees due to drifting would be noticeable over just a single week.

You mentioned that you “beefed up” two colonies. The best way to beef up colonies is to add a frame of brood with adhering bees and shake a frame of bees. For each frame of bees you want colony to have, you need to shake two because about ½ the bees will fly back to the mother colony. So one frame of brood and one frame of bees will give an end result of about one frame of bees covering the frame brood.

Adding brood is important in beefing up weak colonies because the brood pheromone emitted by the brood seems to improve moral. and this is very important concerning weak colonies. It will also help hold the added nurse bees, and provides for future bees.

[ April 24, 2006, 06:46 PM: Message edited by: Pcolar ]
 

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>>>>The best way to beef up colonies is to add a frame of brood with adhering bees and shake a frame of bees<<<<

Joe, I will side with you on all but this... To me the best and easiest way to beef up a weak colony is just to switch places with them when most foragers are out. The field bees will return to their homesite, not their home hive. This will give the weak hive more imediate foraging help. If it's brood they need,rather than foragers, replace the queen.
 

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Good advice Iddee!

Your right! It's probably not the best way, but rather a good way.

Iddee, the intent of adding brood is not to add brood. It is to add work force for the future. This is done to strenghten a colony. If the queen is performing poorly then by all means, replace her.

I usually opt to add brood and bees, not really that it's the "best way" to do this. But it's the best way as far as my backs concerned.


[ April 24, 2006, 07:34 PM: Message edited by: Pcolar ]
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I appreciate the discussion on this. I should clarify what I did. One colony was just a nuc that I made when my queens arrived. One of my hives had died so I was stuck with an extra queen and no resources to get her going. A fellow beekeeper living 35 miles away helped me out by selling some black nurse bees. He shook out 7-8 frames of bees on brood into my box. I then did a newspaper combine with those bees on the bottom and my little queen nuc with her 100 bees on top. The experience of getting the hive set-up was a nightmare, I had a thread about it here on beesource. The next day I removed the newspaper and checked things and the queen was there appearing very happy with a big load of new bees. Since that time just 1 week ago that colony seems to have shrunk by probably 2 frames worth of bees, and I noticed a lot of black bees in my strong italian hive which is next to it. I knew I lost some of the new bees when I did the combine but there were way more there in the hive last week than there are now. Anyway, that's what prompted the question.

[ April 24, 2006, 11:12 PM: Message edited by: wade ]
 
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