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My 2 packages from last year survived the winter in great shape and are full of bees. I am about to get 4 packages to start 4 new hives. Can I boost the packages and control potential swarming of the 2 hives by taking bees from the old hives and adding them to the packages? Is this a good idea? What would be the best way to go about this? Thanks in advance for the advice.
Truly
 

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I think it is better to let your 2 hives make some honey for you this year. It is better for
you to know the swarm control method also. Swarm manage is important.
Since these new packages are enough to make new hives from there is no need to
add any bees to them. Let the package build up this season. They should be fine.
And if you don't want honey you can make a split from the 2 hives to make more bees.
 

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You'll get lots of opinions on this post... here's mine...

It depends. What is your goal? Do you want to make honey? If so, concentrate on maximizing the bees in your two hives while minimizing the likelihood of swarming - you want as many bees as possible in your honey hives - you don't want to reduce their population. Control swarming by managing congestion in the brood nest (probably too late for checkerboarding at this point if you haven't done it already, but that's a whole other discussion...), not by reducing the number of bees in the hive.

Just out of curiosity, why are you concerned about boosting your packages? They won't make honey this year, and it takes time for them to build comb, lay, raise workers, build more comb, lay, raise workers... If I had four packages with no comb to put them on, plus two strong hives, I would be concentrating on making honey with my two hives, and making sure the packages are well fed (or on a strong flow/pollen) and have all the resources they need to draw comb and raise bees so they build up and draw comb adequately this year.

If you are willing to sacrifice some of the honey-production of your two hives to "boost your packages," one relatively low-impact (to your hives) way to give them a quick boost would be by providing a few frames of drawn comb for the queen to lay in as soon as she's out of her cage. Otherwise I wouldn't worry too much about them - just keep an eye on them and manage any problems that arise when you notice them.

HTH

-Pete
 

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Impossible!!! 90% of packages die their first winter. Everybody knows that!! ;)

Good job; I would repeat what you did last year, but you could give each pack a frame of brood to start to anchor them and give a little boost.
 

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I would give the packages a frame of capped brood with clinging nurse bees, this will give the packages a boost in the right direction and also cool the strong hives just a bit to help reduce potential swarming. I do this frame manipulation every spring to balance the strength of my hives, this brings all of the hives to the flow at about the same strength level.

This is just 1 part of my spring management plan but for the sake of not being long winded I tried to keep it short. :)
 

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You'll get lots of opinions on this post... here's mine...

It depends. What is your goal? Do you want to make honey? If so, concentrate on maximizing the bees in your two hives while minimizing the likelihood of swarming - you want as many bees as possible in your honey hives - you don't want to reduce their population. Control swarming by managing congestion in the brood nest (probably too late for checkerboarding at this point if you haven't done it already, but that's a whole other discussion...), not by reducing the number of bees in the hive.

Just out of curiosity, why are you concerned about boosting your packages? They won't make honey this year, and it takes time for them to build comb, lay, raise workers, build more comb, lay, raise workers... If I had four packages with no comb to put them on, plus two strong hives, I would be concentrating on making honey with my two hives, and making sure the packages are well fed (or on a strong flow/pollen) and have all the resources they need to draw comb and raise bees so they build up and draw comb adequately this year.

If you are willing to sacrifice some of the honey-production of your two hives to "boost your packages," one relatively low-impact (to your hives) way to give them a quick boost would be by providing a few frames of drawn comb for the queen to lay in as soon as she's out of her cage. Otherwise I wouldn't worry too much about them - just keep an eye on them and manage any problems that arise when you notice them.

HTH

-Pete
Why do folks keep saying packages won't make honey the first year. I live quite north with a very short season. Last summer was my first with bees. Some of my new packages had 5 dadant honey supers above 2 deeps. It was enough honey for us and to share with some nucs that didn't build up as well.
I would say to folks...you may get lots of honey...just depends on the bees and the season.
 

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Why do folks keep saying packages won't make honey the first year...
Good point. Here in south eastern PA, honey from packages is very very unlikely. Supposedly there are two flows here - one in spring and one in fall, but my experience is we have a spring flow and occasionally some minor nectar in fall but usually not. Sounds like Vancouver is quite a place for bees - I wish we had that kind of flow here. Consider yourself very fortunate.

-Pete
 
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