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giving brood to a new package?

2075 Views 7 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Michael Bush
I currently have one hive that is going gangbusters and will be receiving two new packages in a few days.

  • Can I, should I, pull a frame or two of full brood and honey from my existing hive and donate it to my new colonies, or will that cause problems?

    Will swapping in blank foundation to my existing hive help prevent swarming?
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I wouldn't give the package brood but instead split the larger hive into a nuc. If you don't want more bees, then sell it and get some money for the packages.
+1 to what Pannu said above, but if you don't want to do so there's nothing wrong with giving the packages something to make them feel more at home. Drawn comb is great and will allow the queen to start laying faster, brood will keep their population up (remember many of the package bees will die before new bees hatch in three weeks), and honey/pollen will make it less important to feed the package.

Just make sure you don't accidentally move your existing queen along with the brood frames! you can shake all bees off the frame before moving it.
I LIKE to give a package a frame of brood as well as a drawn or partially drawn comb for the queen to lay in while they begin construction.
Brood will help Anchor them, meaning they will be a little less likely to abscond because they decide they dont like the new home. The brood will emerge and provide some younger bees to care for the brood the new queen is now laying.
IF your situation allows it, a frame of brood and a drawn comb will give a package a huge head start.
My background was breeding queens, we used to make broodless nucs up by the thousand with a queen cell. Getting the bees to stay there was an art form. Very occasionally we would have brood to give them and this stabilised things hugely.
I think giving a frame of emerging brood to newly installed packages is a good idea. In fact, it will help in preventing supercedure at the three week period.

There is an imbalance in package bees. The new colony is trying to raise an increasing amount of brood, requiring an increasing number of nurse bees. Trouble is, the bees are getting older by the day. So, by the time there are any bees emerging which will become the new nurse bees, all the bees in the package are too old to be effective nurses. The imbalance gets critical at the three week in time period, the bees sense the imbalance, and who do you think they blame? The queen.

Add a frame of emerging at about 1-2 weeks in when you check to see how the queen is laying.
Yeah, if you have frames of brood you can spare, I recommend doing so.

Just try to grab capped brood, not open larva/eggs. The reason is because uncapped brood still needs to be fed, and a package may or may not be able to provide enough food for an entire frame's worth of brood when they're barely managing to fend for themselves. Capped brood doesn't need to fed by the bees though.
I think any package can handle one frame of open brood and open brood does more to anchor them to the box. Emerging brood, or course replenishes the work force faster. Ideal would be one open, one capped, one pollen and one honey frame and one empty drawn comb... but then you have a nuc... but that is a serious head start for a package.
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