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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
can we talk about the pros and cons of robin hooding?

i have one large hive and one small (she's trying to catch up). yet they are both about 50% full of honey. i feel like i need to do something for the small one before winter. but the more i think about it, stores are not the issue, bee population is. also the large one has had a few SHB larva spotted and some dead varroa on the bottom board. i probably don't want to put those frames into the smaller hive.
 

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mpgreer

I choose to steal from my strong and gave to my weak. That seemed to work out poorly for me. The weak ones never seemed to catch up. I decided to stop that.

Is your small one to big to move into a nuc? If so you may want to overwinter the small one over the large colony. The only drawback I've read about here is moisture problems for the top colony. You'd probably want to make sure the top colony has good ventilation. Just a 1/2" piece of plywood between the two boxes would work. I'm not sure how easy it would be to check for feeding in the winter.

You may want to say what your box configuration is for both hives so others can give you more direction.
 

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Some people equalize. The term usually has to do with brood and bees as well as stores. Robin Hooding is usually used to refer to stores. Stealing stores from the hives that have and giving those stores to the hives that have not. To me Robing Hooding is a way to avoid the troubles of feeding and the issues of sugar syrup. Equalizing I wouldn't do, but a frame of emerging brood can sometimes tip the scale for a struggling hive without setting the donor hive back much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
...say what your box configuration is for both hives so others can give you more direction.
the large hive is 5 medium boxes high. 8-frame boxes. top two boxes are mostly honey, (but with some empty frames waiting for a fall flow) middle two boxes are brood with pollen and honey on the outside. bottom box is empty comb flanked by the most perfect capped honey frames in the mix. it's pretty full of bees. the whole thing weighs +/- 120#. my beginners intuition says it's doing fine.

the small hive is 3 boxes. but still with some undrawn frames checkerboarded in the honey. so it's really a 17.5 frame hive. 3-4 frames of that is brood. the rest is honey and pollen. bees are not as dense as the other hive. it weighs +/- 70#. that includes woodenware. they were queenless for a good part of july while i tried to let them raise a queen. i ended up buying one and she's catching up. they're not weak exactly, just small. i could think of them as a large nuc instead.

i'm still hoping for a fall flow before i worry too much more. i've seen a few signs, but no weight gain yet.
 

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Swapping brood between hives can give advantage to average production from the apiary if done is spring. But in fall there is not much advantage as long as the weaker hives have enough bees to get through the winter, brood swapping in fall should only be done if a hive is so weak it's winter survival is in doubt. That is ignoring mite and other health issues which may change what should be done.

Swapping of honey between hives in fall can give advantage if all hives can end up with enough stores to get them through. But what you describe sounds to me anyway like the strong hive has maybe enough but not sure it can spare any. Depends what you mean by top 2 boxes are mostly honey. If they were totally full plus more honey below it would be more than enough & could spare some for the other hive. A total weight of 120 lbs for a 5 box hive to me, is light to go into winter with. If you think there will still be a fall flow that may change things but if that doesn't work out I'd let the big hive keep their honey and give the other one sugar.
 
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