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Combine Hives, Yes/No?

1423 Views 9 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  TalonRedding
I have two hives I think I should combine but perhaps not, looking for opinions. I don't want to feed if I don't have to but that may be my only realistic option. One hive is a swarm caught three weeks ago, our flow appears to be over. They have drawn out 6 frames in a deep and the queen is laying well but they have few stores, maybe a total of one frame of pollen and honey if you combined everything from all the frames. The other hive was a start from a trapout that raised their own queen. She is laying well also but they have even fewer stores and only five frames drawn. Would it help to combine these colonies in order for them to perhaps forage enough stores to get through winter? If so, my plan was to move the raised queen and a couple of frames of bees to a nuc and combine the rest of the bees and frames with the swarm hive. Sound like a plan or should I just feed both colonies and leave them separate?
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I would feed both colony's and leave them separate. Summertime often has intermittent dearths with some small maintenance flows. I don't like feeding but on small startup colony's its often good to insure their ready for winter.

I start some nucs in July and aug every year and overwinter in a single deep but I have to feed since they missed the spring flow.
I agree with Wolfer (#2 POST). Unless you don't want a second colony of bees I would feed both. It is likely you are either about to enter a dearth or have entered a dearth of nectar. Sounds like both colonies are healthy, but if there's nothing out there but pollen for them to forage you need to feed.
Far be it from me to sound like an expert, but in my experience, I find that bees are very resourceful. They are like some plants; about the time you think, this thing is never going to grow, you turn your back for a while and it shoots up like crazy. I have had hives do that before - after the main spring flow. You can feed them, and if they take it, fine. However, things may be happening that you can't see, and if they are bringing in stores, they will not take much of the feed you give them. Because they are not 60,000 in number at this point, sometimes it is hard to tell if they are bringing much in. Remember, in one bee's lifetime, they only collect enough for 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. It takes a lot of bees to add up stores.

I bet you'll be surprised in the end of the summer. You may not get to take any honey, being first year hives, but they will probably have enough for the colony. If not, feed them in the fall. If it were me, I would keep the two hives and trust the bees.
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Yup, Feed.
Your odds of having bees come next spring will be 100% greater with two hive going into fall.
Would you feed your horses hay if the pasture is bare of grass? If you won't, expect the same results minus the public shaming and court costs.
Before you combine them first give them some feeding to see how things will change.
I did that for a while and then decided to just combine them. But I took out the queen
to put her in a 5 frame nuc with all the field bees so she can rebuild. I still feed this hive
along with the stronger hive. Both hives are bringing in pollen and nectar now.
I have this thinking about not feeding but on second thought that when we are in a dearth then
there is nothing for them to eat so might as well feed them. Besides they don't need much to get
things going again. I'm hoping there will be a Fall flow. So feed them all! Poor little bees.
Like everyone else, I would feed. Also, if one hive goes queenless before winter, you could combine and have a stringer queen right colony. Diversify your bees and don't keep them in one box.... :)
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