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I have one really weak hive with a less than desired brood pattern and a swarm that is in somewhat better shape with more brood. Both hives are being fed, but have questions as to whether they can survive the winter separate. The hives are located approx 20 yards apart. My first choice would be-due to location-to combine the swarm hive with the weak hive. Can you do that since they are that distance? What about the queens? The swarm hive seems to have the better queen based on brood pattern. Any thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

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I would say the sooner the better in this case. The bad hive will only get worse, and the good hive might not get strong enough to make winter. Get rid of the old queen, and do a newspaper combine with the swarm in their location. IMHO if you give them a top entrance it might just cause the queenless bees to re orient on the new location instead of the old one.
 

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I combined a swarm with a weak hive on the weak hives location, put the swarm on top with the weak hive I made queenless below. The swarm was located 70 feet or so away from the hive I combined it with, for a day or two I had a handful of bees checking out the old location but it cleared up quick.
 
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