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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a struggling hive that had some queen issues. I successfully requeened and she is doing fine. However, their population level was not great when I introduced her and has since not improved due to SHB. I removed all the SHB frames and put them in the freezer.I need to give them a boost by adding some bees.

I want to keep the queen as she is laying fine, they just don't have enough bees to cover brood etc.

What is the best way to do this? I could add capped brood that would boost the hive upon emergence. Does it matter that there aren't enough bees to cover the capped brood? I guess it wouldn't as it is summer now and temperature is hot keeping things warm is not a problem.

I would like to add a frame or two or three of nurse bees from other hives to help them bounce back much quicker. However, how do I make sure the new nurse bees won't kill the queen? I mean I can't do a newspaper combine as it's only a few frames.
 

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There is no 100% risk free way to do this, but do it right you can keep the risk to the queen very small.

First
I could add capped brood that would boost the hive upon emergence. Does it matter that there aren't enough bees to cover the capped brood?
Yes it does.

Weak hives trying to recover probably already have the maximum brood they can cover. Adding more than they can keep alive just causes more problems in most cases.

If it's a very weak hive, say, one or two frames of brood, here is what I do. I find the queen and put her on the outside edge of the comb furthest away from where I will add the brood. Then I take brood with plenty of bees from another hive, and add that to the hive, on the other side from where the queen is. Doing all that you still have to keep the integrity of the brood nest, ie, end up with a correctly shaped brood nest with no gaps, that the bees can easily cover. You may have to pick and choose brood frames that have brood in the right places if the recieving hive is very weak.

Sprinkling a little sugar water on the bees will calm them down and help with acceptance.

Then you got to reduce the entrance right down if it's robbing season. Because some of the bees you transferred will be older ones that will return to their original hive, but now they know what's in the other hive and may return to rob it. Just give it a few days and if no robbing you can open it up again some, but use caution.
 

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I prefer placing the weak hive over a strong hive with a queen excluder and a newspaper. If the weaker colony queen is worth saving, she lays more eggs than her colony can support and nurse bees from below go to the smell of unattended brood and augment the colony. I also regularly make double sure a frame of brood does not contain a queen and move it to a weak colony. If the recipient colony has enough bees that they form a court around their queen, they protect her from the added frame/s of bees. A little powder sugar sprinkled on both sides of the combine may also be helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
There is no 100% risk free way to do this, but do it right you can keep the risk to the queen very small.

First


Yes it does.

Weak hives trying to recover probably already have the maximum brood they can cover. Adding more than they can keep alive just causes more problems in most cases.

If it's a very weak hive, say, one or two frames of brood, here is what I do. I find the queen and put her on the outside edge of the comb furthest away from where I will add the brood. Then I take brood with plenty of bees from another hive, and add that to the hive, on the other side from where the queen is. Doing all that you still have to keep the integrity of the brood nest, ie, end up with a correctly shaped brood nest with no gaps, that the bees can easily cover. You may have to pick and choose brood frames that have brood in the right places if the recieving hive is very weak.

Sprinkling a little sugar water on the bees will calm them down and help with acceptance.

Then you got to reduce the entrance right down if it's robbing season. Because some of the bees you transferred will be older ones that will return to their original hive, but now they know what's in the other hive and may return to rob it. Just give it a few days and if no robbing you can open it up again some, but use caution.
SO definitely adding more capped brood than they can cover is a bad idea? Why? B/c if it's hot outside wouldn't the brood stay warm?
 

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Smoke the incoming frames thoroughly before adding them. Confuse the bees and temporarily reduce their sense of smell. I have done this several times and so far not had a problem. Nurse bees are said to not usually cause problems anyway.

Give the frames a shake before putting it in, which will encourage the older bees to fly off but the nurse bees hang on harder.
 

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SO definitely adding more capped brood than they can cover is a bad idea? Why? B/c if it's hot outside wouldn't the brood stay warm?
If the frames of capped brood are covered with nurse bees, it's not such a problem. Brood bare of nurse bees is the problem.
 

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I heard tell of a “white wedding” where by you cover the incoming bees with powdered sugar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If the frames of capped brood are covered with nurse bees, it's not such a problem. Brood bare of nurse bees is the problem.
Right, but why is it a problem if it is capped? Just trying to learn. Obviously if it's uncapped it needs to be fed etc, but capped brood just sits there, right? Like if I added no new nurse bees, just 2-3 frames of capped brood...
 

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Even, steady temp control. 70 degrees may seem warm to us, but not to brood. When you move the brood frames, take the attached nurse bees with them.

Also, down the road you have better balanced colonies regarding age of bees. If you move just brood and they all hatch out around the same time, then you have too many young bees inside the hive without enough foragers to feed them. If you move the nurse bees they are already aging and will be ready to forage sooner.
 

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SO definitely adding more capped brood than they can cover is a bad idea? Why? B/c if it's hot outside wouldn't the brood stay warm?
Bees hold their brood within a tight temperature range. Which is between 91.5 degrees and 95 degrees.

So if your "hot" is in that range and never outside of it you may go ahead without fear. If your "hot" does go outside that range then you need enough bees on that brood to maintain the correct temperature.

If your "hot" is close to that temperature, you will need less bees to keep the brood at the right temperature, than if ambient temperature is far away from brood raising temperature. But no bees? No, won't cut it. The brood covering capacity of your weak hive is probably maxed out already. Add more brood, you got to add more bees.

There is a BUT to that. Which is, if a frame of point of hatch bees is left outside a hive in cooler temperatures, the point of hatch bees may continue to hatch for another day or two. The problem with that being those bees will be weak and not live long, and, in any brood comb of point of hatch bees, much of the brood will not be point of hatch and will not develop at room temperature.

However, if you really want to add brood to this hive with no bees covering it, you may go ahead at least it will be a learning experience for you. Just a request, please don't come crying to us afterwards, you were given fair warning how it would go.
 

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Dumping a bunch of bees will NOT cause a queen to get balled.

The only time that might happen is if you drop a queen into a bunch of bees.

Not the other way around.
 

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Okay, I'm just playing devil's advocate but why would you want to save a struggling hive? When you take frames from a stronger hive to boost a weaker one, you now have 2 weakened hives. I let nature take it's course and if they survive, that is genetics I want around. If the hive doesn't survive, no great loss.
I will feed a weakened hive, if they need it, however.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Okay, I'm just playing devil's advocate but why would you want to save a struggling hive? When you take frames from a stronger hive to boost a weaker one, you now have 2 weakened hives. I let nature take it's course and if they survive, that is genetics I want around. If the hive doesn't survive, no great loss.
I will feed a weakened hive, if they need it, however.
Good question. They are struggling due to beekeeper error 🤦‍♂️. queen was rocking and then I put too much marking paint on her so they killed her, then they were queenless for a while, I requeened with a good queen of a different race and want to keep her, but she needs more bees for critical mass. When she was installed pop was already low.
 

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Good question. They are struggling due to beekeeper error 🤦‍♂️. queen was rocking and then I put too much marking paint on her so they killed her, then they were queenless for a while, I requeened with a good queen of a different race and want to keep her, but she needs more bees for critical mass. When she was installed pop was already low.
At the point where the hive was determined to be hopelessly queenless, I would combine them with another hive to make a super-hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
At the point where the hive was determined to be hopelessly queenless, I would combine them with another hive to make a super-hive.
But they weren't hopelessly queenless. I gave them supersedure cells and they raised an unmated queen. I removed that unmated queen and installed a mated queen that I ordered for genetics. I moved the virgin queen to a 2 Frame nuc where she got mated and is laying nicely. I am using her as a backup in case another queen fails
 
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