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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have three hives that for different reasons are small right now. I run all 8-frame mediums.

Hive 1 is a swarm I caught the last week of July. I think I know from which hive it swarmed. It is a mean hive that I plan on requeening next spring. This new hive is already becoming a little aggressive, and they are in just one medium super. They have about six frames of brood and honey (three were taken from the swarm hive) .

Hive 2 is a new hive I started the first week of August. A friend gave me a queen that was already laying and had survived last winter. I checked it today and the queen is laying in a good pattern. It has about six drawn frames--three each from two other donor hives.

Hive 3 is from an 8-frame medium nuc I received the second week of June. Two other nucs I got from the same local supplier are doing well. This one is struggling. I thought drift might be an issue so I moved it about a month ago. That didn't help, although I am seeing more foragers now than before the move. While the other two nucs are now in three supers, this one only has a total of eight frames drawn. Quite some time back I moved two frames of honey up to the second super to try to get them to move up, but they are not making any progress. The queen has a good pattern, but there just isn't a lot of brood. I've been feeding this hive 1:1 syrup since I received it. The last couple of weeks I have been feeding a thinner 1:2, hoping they would have to draw more comb to evaporate the excess water. That didn't seem to help, even though they go through a quart in about two days. I check this hive quite often for robbing, and have never seen any signs. There is no sugar syrup being put up in any of my other hives. I do have the entrance reduced, to about 1/4" by 4"; I didn't want to close it up too much because the hive is in full sun.

My question is, should I combine all three of these hives, keeping the queen from hive 2 and killing the other two? Should I wait longer and see how hive 3 does, or would it be better to combine sooner than later? I don't have any more frames of brood from other hives to give. I could give a couple of frames of honey, but don't know if that would help since I'm feeding already. We have goldenrod blooming now, and most years it has been a big help in topping off hives for winter.

If I were to combine, should I do all three at once? Or maybe combine hives 1 and three, and see how hive 2 does? These are hives with migratory covers and top entrances if that factors in to the answer.

7,861 Posts
You should combine the 2 weaker hives so that their population will be more.
If they do not build up for the winter then you can combine with the 3rd hive too.
Since there is a flow now you should wait a bit to further evaluate after the combine.
Feeding will help too even when there is a flow on of syrup and patty with the extra honey
frames will help tremendously.
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