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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I may need to combine a drone layer or laying worker colony that is in one of my top bars with a stronger colony in my other top bar. When I do that do I need to provide an entrance for the bees that I am installing? Can they survive for the time until they chew through the newspaper?

It so happens that I built the hive to do have multiple entrances so I could do it if needed and also the end of the hive where the bees will be installed does have a 1.5" screened ventilation hole using #8 hardware cloth.
 

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I may need to combine a drone layer or laying worker colony that is in one of my top bars with a stronger colony in my other top bar. When I do that do I need to provide an entrance for the bees that I am installing? Can they survive for the time until they chew through the newspaper?

It so happens that I built the hive to do have multiple entrances so I could do it if needed and also the end of the hive where the bees will be installed does have a 1.5" screened ventilation hole using #8 hardware cloth.
Why even combine?
You are risking loosing your remaining good queen if combine at all.

You are better off just shaking the suspect colony out and away, thus making them home-less and queen-less (they are still "queen-right" at the moment, as far as they are concerned).
Move their hive away so there is nothing for them to return to.
If your good colony is standing close by, the queen-less bees will join it (without the drone laying queen or the laying workers - what you want).
 

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I agree with Greg that I certainly wouldn't recommend that particular course of action.

What I have done in the past is to shake out a suspect colony directly in front of a strong queenright hive, so that only 'acceptable' bees are then allowed entry to it. Any bees which have the smell of a foreign queen (mature virgins, drone layers, laying workers) are then refused entry by the guard bees. But such a procedure does carry with it an element of risk - so if in any doubt, and particularly if you only have low colony numbers, I'd advise adopting Greg's method of shaking-out at a good distance from your hives, as the useful bees to be recovered from such a suspect hive is limited mainly to the foragers.
LJ
 

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To clarify - "good distance from your hives" for me would be about 5-10 meters (yards) away from a standing active hive(s).
My back yard simply does not allow for a greater distance, for example.
But this should suffice.
If can dump them even farther afield - might as well.

Your remaining good colony should stay as-is.
Do not move it closer to the location of the terminated hive (as if trying to "help) - you will make it an easier target for massive return of the home-less bees - not good.
You want to shock and disperse the drone-laying colony while preserving the other hive the best you can.
"Flatten the curve" of the home-less invaders (CV-19 term came to mind).

Possibly reduce the entrance in the remaining active hive so help them to "filter" the home-less bees as they are trying to enter (similar to robbing control).
In the end, both colonies will combine, not a worry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Appreciate both of your replies. Would your suggestions stand for a drone layer as well?

I know the best option in that scenario would be for me to identify the drone layer and pinch her, but I'm not sure I will be able to do that so there is a chance she would be a part of the combine. I guess the risk is that somehow she survives and my good queen is the one who gets killed?
 

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Appreciate both of your replies. Would your suggestions stand for a drone layer as well?

I know the best option in that scenario would be for me to identify the drone layer and pinch her, but I'm not sure I will be able to do that so there is a chance she would be a part of the combine. I guess the risk is that somehow she survives and my good queen is the one who gets killed?
Yes - the proposal stands as the safest for your "good queen".
Especially so because you are not able to find the "drone layer queen".

Technically - I would find the drone laying queen, terminate her, and give the queen-less colony fresh eggs to make themselves a new queen.
Unfortunately, it maybe that the "bad colony" is beyond the point of no-return to bother with this option (the bees could be too old)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes, unfortunately this was a package installed on April 17 so numbers are dwindling. I did provide the problem hive with a frame of eggs, open and capped brood on May 7, but they did not draw queen cells so assumed they were queenright.
 

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Yes, unfortunately this was a package installed on April 17 so numbers are dwindling. I did provide the problem hive with a frame of eggs, open and capped brood on May 7, but they did not draw queen cells so assumed they were queenright.
Yep.
Terminate them, collect the remaining work-force best you can (as discussed) and wash your hands off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Any tips on how to find a drone laying queen? I assume they are much smaller than a mated queen?

Painful to sacrifice the rest of the colony for any failure on my part to locate the drone layer......
 

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Any tips on how to find a drone laying queen? I assume they are much smaller than a mated queen?

Painful to sacrifice the rest of the colony for any failure on my part to locate the drone layer......
Drone laying queen is just a normal queen - by the looks.

Get used to the beekeeping pains and build up some tolerance (ask me how I know).
Instead - learn to be flexible, be ready to absorb some loss, regroup, and see you way out of the situation.

In your case - drop back to a single colony as discussed, then expand from it (perfect timing - you are in luck).
It is worse to lose a queen late-winter/early-spring.
 

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Any tips on how to find a drone laying queen? I assume they are much smaller than a mated queen?
You could always filter the bees through a QX - if you think it's worth the hassle at this stage.

A mated queen which turns drone-layer will be identical. A virgin which never gets mated will have a smaller abdomen, but the thorax is the same (afaik).

Painful to sacrifice the rest of the colony for any failure on my part to locate the drone layer......
Try not to beat yourself up over this - it's called gaining experience - which comes with a price-tag. Usually measured in the numbers of colonies lost during the learning process. We've all been through this at one stage - no-one is exempt. :)
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Today I did confirm that the colony does have a drone layer and it's time to move on and do as has been suggested here.

I do have a related question though just for educational purposes -

If I were to do the newspaper combine and the drone layer was a part of the weaker colony getting combined, would not the bees from my strong hive kill the drone layer before the weak hive killed the queen from the strong hive?* There is a fairly big difference in population or are there other variables involved in terms of which*queen survives?**

Thanks,
Kevin
 

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Today I did confirm that the colony does have a drone layer and it's time to move on and do as has been suggested here.

I do have a related question though just for educational purposes -

If I were to do the newspaper combine and the drone layer was a part of the weaker colony getting combined, would not the bees from my strong hive kill the drone layer before the weak hive killed the queen from the strong hive?* There is a fairly big difference in population or are there other variables involved in terms of which*queen survives?**

Thanks,
Kevin
The size of the colony is not that important with the gradual combine.
The bees are supposed to select the best queen out of the two somehow.
This means they should select the "best queen" - in theory (whatever the best queen means to them).

Now - do you wan to test this theory using your only remaining "good queen".
For myself - I would not test this theory given the circumstances and take the safest route.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
No, Greg, this has already been an expensive learning lesson and I don't need to put my only remaining asset at risk. Was just curious about the how the "correct" queen is chosen and sounds like many uncontrollable variables are involved.

After shaking them out, I will have several top bars of drawn frame which I can use in my remaining hive which currently has drawn out 12 bars.

Our strongest nectar flow of the year is about to begin so I thought I would checkerboard with 1-2 frames in the recipient's hive's brood nest and then place 1-2 of the frames at the end of the broodnest for nectar storage.

Does that seem reasonable?

Finally, I assume I need to freeze the remaining frames?

Thanks,
Kevin
 

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Does that seem reasonable?

Finally, I assume I need to freeze the remaining frames?

Thanks,
Kevin
Sure, checkerboard them.

If have freezer space - sure freeze them.
I have no vacant freezer space - have been putting separate combs into zip-lock begs and storing them into a tight plastic container in the house.
At this time no moths are flying just yet (at my place) - there is still time to simply zip-lock the combs for later use.

Pretty soon you probably will want to create some splits from your survivor hive - those spare combs will go right back into the rotation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
GregV, so I did the deed this weekend and shook them out as I could not find the queen. Added some frames from that colony to my other package colony so it should be well set up for the coming nectar flow. We will see, but maybe I can catch a swarm or do a late split.

Thanks, again, for everyone's help!

Kevin
 
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