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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I hived a swarm from one of my own hives on Oct. 1, put the entire branch in a deep box, set a medium box of frame and foundation on top of that, then a feeder and lids. I bought a new queen for the parent of the swarm and thought to kill the swarm queen, then recombine the two for the winter.
There were delays of various sorts, but what I have now is the parent colony in 2 deep boxes and I think a good supply of bees and supplies for the winter. Last week when the queen finally arrived, I took two medium frames that had brood and capped larvae from the swarm box and traded them into the parent. This week when I went to see how the new queen was doing, she was still in the shipping box!
Meantime, back at the swarm, the queen is laying, the bees have rapidly drawn out ten medium frames, and are drawing big hanging comb as well, down into the mostly empty box below (I took away the branch, but not the box). And I am getting curious, or maybe just too greedy.
I think the parent colony will make it. I assume the bought queen is good, I have I think enough bees and supplies there, and have controlled for mites.
But I wonder if there is a way to keep the swarm colony going as a separate entity. On the plus side, they seem to have more bees than will fit on all the medium frames and their queen seems effective. I have fed them and can continue to do so indefinitely. On the minus side, I have no more drawn foundation to offer them. If I get rid of the empty deep box they're sitting over, I'd have to do something with all the hanging comb they've built, some of which has brood and larvae in it.Some of it I've knocked off already by mistake. The boxes are in a bad place (shady) and would need to be moved to an area that would crowd my other three hives.
Would there be a way to set the swarm on top of the parent with some barrier between them for the winter? A queen excluder?
Is it too late to combine them? Frankly, I'm hesitant about killing the swarm queen - anthropomorphically I admire her ambition! And if I did kill her and combine the two, what would I do with the brood on medium frames? the brood on broken chunks of comb? Would the little air space at the bottom of a medium frame in a deep box cause problems later in the winter? Could I just leave the entire medium box and its contents, brood, larvae and food on top of the two deeps of the parent all winter long?
I'd appreciate any suggestions. I know I'm supposed to just combine the two but I wonder if there's another way to keep this late swarm going.
 

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if the hive has not released the queen from his introduction cage I would suspect that you already have a queen (or at least an unmated queen) in this box.

May I assume the two hives are side by side???

if yes then I would follow this process:

If you are short of drawn comb. begin by removing the natural built comb and rubber banding (tieing or wiring) this into there own frames.

begin leveling the population and resources by shifting a few frames of soom to emerge brood and resources from the stronger to the weaker hive. with cold weather approaching you likely wish to do this slowly, since chilled brood is a definite downside for the weak hive. since you are taking from one and boosting the other, feeding of both hives is likely in order.

once the population of the weak hive is boosted to an acceptable level (and the size of the old hive has been reduced to where it is somewhat easier to move) you may wish to switch the locations of the hives (when the weather is good) to throw some of the field bees into the weaker hive.

good luck.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the suggestion about moving the natural built comb into their own frames. I'll do it in today's warm weather.

I started with 2 hives (my second year, but first winter) on a stand in a good location. I hived a swarm on Sept. 17 and put in on the same stand too. The Oct. 1 swarm is about 75 feet away, in the shade near the wood pile (mice! snakes!). In an ideal world, they would spend the winter on the stand, wall to wall with the others, and I'd move two boxes elsewhere in the spring.

In the parent colony where I put the storebought queen who stayed in her box for 9 days, I looked thoroughly, twice, for signs of a local queen, once before I ordered the new queen and once before I introduced her. I saw nothing, no brood, no larvae, no eggs. There were opened queen cells but they may have been from the swarm that that hive cast on Sept. 17. I don't know why she (the green-dotted queen) stayed in the box so long. (or why I had two swarms there so late in the season)

Now I am thinking I should wait another week or so, for the next warm day, before making a final decision about combining. I hope I would know if the green queen was right in the parent colony. I do think there is enough food in the parent colony. There are a good number of bees, too. But I am worried that none of them are young - even if that new green queen started laying today, at this time of year she probably wouldn't do much. The only youngish bees would be from the few brood on the medium frames I took from the swarm colony. I put these in two days after I put the queen in, expecting she'd be out by that afternoon and could get right to work. Would there even be bees of the right generation in the parent colony to raise brood? Despite its other strengths, the parent colony has been without an effective queen since at least September 17.

Things would be tidied up in the swarm colony, with the natural comb tied in frames. Maybe if things looked decent in the swarm box and I moved them to a sunnier spot, they could get through the winter. Despite the small size (basically 1 full medium box) they at least have a working queen. Silly me - easily impressed by the sight of all that fresh-drawn comb and the spirit of the queen!

Actually, under the circumstances, I'm not sure which is the weak hive and which the strong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Whew! Now that I reread my own post I can see there's way too much detail = no wonder not much response!
The store-bought green=dot queen has vanished, and that "parent" colony still has no larvae of its own. I did cut and rubberband the natural comb into frames in the swarm's colony and the queen is still working there (or was, last week).
It's getting cold here, daytime highs usually 50s and first frost coming soon. So I think I have to consolidate these two colonies and hope the swarm queen survives. I was going to do this with the newspaper method.
The questions: does the box with the queen and her brood go on the bottom or on top? Is there any chance of successful combining at this time of year? How many boxes of partially capped honey can I leave on top for the winter (I don't have a freezer for storage)? Can I mix and match and put partial boxes atop my other two colonies?
 

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k, i'm not the most experienced beek here, but i'll take a stab at this. I have to admit that after reading the above 2x, i'm still not sure of the situation. are you positive your weak hive is queenless (and not that queen has simply stopped laying for season)? if so, then I would look to combine, unless you choose to introduce a new one.

The questions: does the box with the queen and her brood go on the bottom or on top?
I don't think it matters - either is ok.

Is there any chance of successful combining at this time of year?
I would think so. bear in mind the concept of ideal winter cluster size discussed elsewhere on this board.

How many boxes of partially capped honey can I leave on top for the winter (I don't have a freezer for storage)?
I'm not sure. at least 1 or 2 per hive - how many you got?

Can I mix and match and put partial boxes atop my other two colonies?
yes, except be aware you don't want to spread nosema or other diseases between hives, particularly at this point of the season. hope this helps!
 

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Hi AC. OK here is my best guess what you have. I am thinking that before they swarmed they made a queen. This is usually what happens.
So why isn't she laying? Because she is a virgin and either didn't mate, or mated but has not yet started to lay. Your store bought queen is probably history at this point.

SO what to do? COmbine or not?

I think it is a close call. This is where the experience and art of a good beek makes the call based on eyeballing it and gut feelings. If you don't have a queen laying real soon then I would combine.

You have to have a queen to get through the winter. If there are no drones anymore, then the virgin will not be able to mate. If she can't mate then - well she won't be able to lay the workers who will be needed in the spring.

So IMO make one last careful check for eggs. If there are none, I would do a combine.

If there are eggs, then I would not. INstead I would try to get that swarm through the winter by a combination of feeding and transfer of stores from other hives. That swarm could be your boomer next year!


Let us knowwhat happens!
 

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ps you asked about leaving partially capped stores on and if you can mix and match.

Sure no problem. IMO that is the best feed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the comments. I've just looked for the third time for that non-laying queen and I still cannot find her.

So, tomorrow, I will move the swarm colony (2 medium boxes all drawn and mostly full) with its working queen to my stand in the good sunny location where the queenless colony now is. (Because that is the best place for the winter) I will put a newspaper and a queen excluder on top of it, and then the 2 deep boxes of the "queenless" colony on top of that. And then, of course the covers.

I'm thinking that by the time the paper is gone the bees will be good with each other - that is, no one will want to kill the good queen in the bottom boxes. And the bad queen, if there is one, will be stuck upstairs behind the excluder. Since I can't find her, I'm trying to sieve her out!

And what should I do about the entrances as I wait for the paper to disappear?
Block the bottom 2 boxes with screen cloth for a day is what I am thinking, then pull off the screen and replace it with grass or a branch.

Will the bees tend to move up, or down? I'd like them to move down, leaving the bad queen alone up there.

When can I remove the excluder?

I would greatly appreciate any suggestions about a better way to do this - it's tough keeping all the secret rules in mind, especially when I don't know them!
 

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acwest,
You can almost always determine whether or not a colony is queenless by putting a comb containing some fresh eggs. If queenless, the bees will immediately begin drawing out queen cells. If not queenless, no queen cells but you're likely to find the queen on that comb. From all of your descriptions, it sounds to me like the parent hive has a new queen that hasn't started laying for some reason. If it's been more than 2 weeks since the swarm, I would do a newspaper combine like you have planned. :cool:
 

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How far away is the hive you plan to move. If it is more than ten or twenty feet you could lose a lot of bees doing it in one day. I usually skoot a hive over three to five feet a day until I have it where I want it. If it is getting really cold at night in your area any lost bees probably wont make it.
 

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And what should I do about the entrances as I wait for the paper to disappear?
Block the bottom 2 boxes with screen cloth for a day is what I am thinking, then pull off the screen and replace it with grass or a branch.

Will the bees tend to move up, or down? I'd like them to move down, leaving the bad queen alone up there.

When can I remove the excluder?
When I have done these combines I have not blocked entrances. I provide a top entrance and a bottom entrance.

They will stay with the queen and the brood. So if there is no brood up top then the nurse bees will move down. And the worker bees will - well work I guess! When they cluster up in the cold they will go to the brood and keep it warm.

I guess I would wait for a couple of cold nights to pass after the newspaper has been shredded before removing the excluder. In other words, wait a week at least, then wait for a couple of cold nights. In theory your unwanted queen (if there is one) will be left alone up top.

You ask a good question about the excluder. I never tried it but that doesn't stop me from giving advice! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Updating:

Now I have the virgin/queenless boxes on top of the hived swarm with the paper and QE between. It's been about a week and I thought to take out the QE when it gets warmer tomorrow, so today I took a peek.
The newspaper is untouched. It seems as if there are two colonies that just happened to be stacked together.
I also see what I take to be the start of three queen cells - less than 1/2 inch at present. Would this mean that they now believe themselves to be queenless?
Can I just take away the Queen Excluder? The newspaper?
 
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