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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I installed 2 packages May 25th. One went queenless shortly thereafter and the other went gang busters (for a while). I requeened the first hive (with a hygenic italian from reputable breeder), but the population was really low. I bought a nuc, took a frame of capped brood and nurse bees from the nuc and put it into the weak hive. I then put the nuc into a 10fr box. 2 weeks ago when I did this the week hive had 1/4 of 2 frames (if that) drawn out. The 2nd hive (going gang busters) has pretty much stopped doing anything. There is still a queen and she is laying as there is all 3 types of brood. They are not expanding at all though. They have 4 frames 3/4 drawn and part of another but thats it. They had that much 2 weeks ago. The week hive still doesn't have hardly any comb drawn but the queen is laying in the added Nuc frame.

Long story short, 4 weeks after I install 2 packages, 1 has 3/4 of 4 frames drawn and isnt expanding. 2nd barely has any comb and is likewise not expanding. Both have active queens and are being fed. They are both bringing in stores etc as well. I'm wondering if I should combine them? Would that give them a jump start? I know 1 good hive is better than 2 small hives. Or should I just cross my fingers and hope for the best? My reasoning is that it's getting later in the year and I'd rather take a solid hive into fall rather than trying to limp these two. Im not sure they will boom enough with the time left. I just don't understand why they aren't building comb. I'm hoping their combined numbers would get them going.

My thought is to pinch the package queen in the larger hive and keep the marked hygenic queen in the smaller hive and do a newspaper combine. If I do it Im hesitant about which queen to keep. Thoughts?
 

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I have had luck in situations like this by reducing the hive down to a 5 frame box. Less space to deal with. They seem to gain more traction in smaller equipment, but I'm a long way from Montana. Don't know which queen I would keep, I want them all.
 

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Doesn't seem to me as though two weeks is long enough to evaluate whether a package is going to do well or not.
 

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The combine sounds like a good bet. Can you cage one queen and bank her?
 

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The population of any installed package declines for at least the first 3 weeks...that is if the queen started laying on day one of the install. Give them more time. She can only lay as much as her population can cover. I would give both hives more time before doing anything drastic. JMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies. I don't want to do anything drastic but I'm concerened with the lack of comb being drawn. I guess looking at the time line those saying I should wait a bit are probably right. The new brood could only have started emerging a week ago at the earliest. And they don't really get into comb drawing age until around now. So how long would you suggest I wait until I decide either way?
 

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House bees develop wax glands at around 9 days after emergence, so rather soon in your case (new brood at wax producing age). Giving at least a few more weeks to catch up/ get rolling - if they aren't drawing wax by the 2nd or 3rd brood cycle, there must some other issue. (They need a constant flow, or (restricted) feeding to promote continuous wax building).

In answer to you question - a few weeks, if you've addressed any other concerns. Wax building should begin to flourish from here on out.
 

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Personally, I would try adding frames of brood and bees from a strong hive to help them both along now (don't know if you have that available to you though). I just had some luck with that myself with a package that had a weak queen for the first month, then she disappeared. I requeened, but it was still lagging because there weren't enough bees to cover the brood until I added some more frames with bees on them.

Also, I would wait til fall to combine them. One or both may just surprise you.
 

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It sounds to me like they need time to build up populations. I would suggest syrup and pollen patty feeding to supplement the lack of forager bees and possibly slowing summer flows (not sure of your area's flows). It takes 6-9 weeks for bees to build up good from a package or new nuc. The greater the population, the faster they can grow in size. With just a few frames of bees and brood it takes awhile for them to get going. It takes bees to make more bees.
 
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