Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
118 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I may be asking a question that I already know the answer to but at this point I'm a bit paranoid. This is my first complete year and as much as I would like to blame an extremely cold Winter for my losses I can think back as far as early fall to realize some of my mistakes. 20/20 hindsight but I'll learn. Right now I have four colonies left, two I'm not too worried about, the third I see signs of a queen but the numbers are small. Is it possible that they won't be able to keep the brood warm? The fourth looks as strong as any of them but I see no queen or signs of one. Am I jumping the gun? I've done the news paper combine successfully. I also read an article where he combined the colonies but put a queen excluder between them in case there was a second queen.

Like I said earlier I think I know the answer but I would appreciate some advice. Thanks, Gary
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
13,203 Posts
More questions: What two are you planing on combining and what are the physical sizes. Large and small are not descriptive enough to offer advice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,050 Posts
I would combine the weak cluster. They will give a boost to the colony you combine them with and allow you to split them later to regain the numbers. Double check that fourth colony for a queen. An excluder won't prevent 2 queens from fighting through it. Another consideration is that the bees will cluster around the more attractive queen and the other one might freeze.

Personally, I would dispatch the queen I don't like before combining unless you are combining a queenless and a queenright colony.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
I also read an article where he combined the colonies but put a queen excluder between them in case there was a second queen.
Last year I put some weak hives together so they could build and separated the queens with excluders. They worked pretty well. You usually find that one queen will be favored over the other. I found that it seemed to be the one in the bottom box, not sure if positioning has anything to do with it, just an observation.

At some point you will have to divide the resources between the two queens and separate them again when they are both stronger or pinch the weak queen, because she is so neglected.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
118 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
More questions: What two are you planing on combining and what are the physical sizes. Large and small are not descriptive enough to offer advice.
I'm sorry, Ace. I'm considering combining the hive with a queen and a very small cluster, (just two or three frames of bees of bees) with the hive that has decent numbers (five or six frames of bees) but has no brood at this point. I have no intention of doing anything with my two strongest hives. At this point I'd rather have three colonies than try to keep all four and end up with two. I hope I explained it better this time. English composition was not my best subject:(
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
13,203 Posts
At this point I'd rather have three colonies than try to keep all four and end up with two. (
The dilemma I have with bees is making decisions for them or let them make the decision. You can't always assume that the lager cluster will do better than the small cluster. Which queen are you going to keep? If you combine and add a new queen the results might be more predictable but if you just combine, I don't know. I wouldn't right off the larger cluster being queenless right now. Maybe other would.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
118 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all. In my first year keeping bees the one thing that have learned is that I have a lot to learn. My problem is that when I blunder I feel like I let them down. I that weird?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,135 Posts
2 or 3 frames would be a good nuc, so not that bad in March. Got to ask everybodies favorite question. Mites? How close is the brood to hatching, if well capped they will be getting #s soon. Are the bees covering the brood or can you see brood through bees easily? Did you move honey frames right next to brood?
Not really spring there yet is it? If other hives are hauling in pollen but not for broodless that is bad sign.
In your non laying hive, how much stores?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
118 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
2 or 3 frames would be a good nuc, so not that bad in March. Got to ask everybodies favorite question. Mites? How close is the brood to hatching, if well capped they will be getting #s soon. Are the bees covering the brood or can you see brood through bees easily? Did you move honey frames right next to brood?
Not really spring there yet is it? If other hives are hauling in pollen but not for broodless that is bad sign.
In your non laying hive, how much stores?
In all cases I have given them full frames of honey from the dead outs. The weak hive is quite thin in numbers, yes you can easily see the brood. I've been watching the brood less hive on and off all day, They're waddling in with pollen that I collected last year mixed with Ultra Bee from Mann Lake. I hope that is a good sign.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,135 Posts
Yes, a good sign. Makes the decision a little tougher though. If you combine them you are either going to snuff out the weak queen and possibly have none in the hive or keep a weak queen going (not always all that bad). Forecast is not good for Monday here. If you are heading to 20s you could lose small hive stuck on brood. After that cold spell it is almost a week of almost seasonal. If your bees are thin enough to see through to brood I do not think they will make it to next warm stretch.

You could shake off all bees and put brood in larger hive. That might kick off that queen, if they start q cells then you have no queen. It would delay the small hive but spring will come and you can shake off bees and put them back after this cold snap.

Shoot me down anyone who thinks that's crazy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,099 Posts
I would give the smaller hive one frame of brood from one of the bigger hives, and swap places with one of the bigger hives. Leave the one alone that have good numbers of bees but no brood yet. I bet they have a queen that hasn't started laying again yet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
118 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Leave the one alone that have good numbers of bees but no brood yet. I bet they have a queen that hasn't started laying again yet.
I hope you are correct! This was my favorite. They are quite pleasant to work with, they started as a four frame nuc and built steadily throughout the year and made nearly perfect comb. I was looking forward to splitting them, I would indeed be disappointed if I lost that queen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,135 Posts
I would not give the small hive more brood, possibly OK with bees, but not this week. If you drop into the teens overnight with brood not well covered with bees they will be dead. I will be single digits to zero Sunday & Monday, colder inland, how low will you go?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
118 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm looking at mid teens at night mid thirties daytime. Depending on the computer model that you are watching there could be anywhere from 6" to 18" of snow on tues - wed. It's still early but the Euro model says in Maine it could get ugly
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top