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My wife and I caught two swarms recently and got back into beekeeping.
We are working with our girls to build them for winter. The first swarm (Virginia Hive) was much bigger from the beginning. We got the second swarm (Margarita Hive) the next day but was much smaller in size. I was feeding them for a while with entrance feeders then robbing started so I stopped and reduced their entrances, and it stopped.
We had no built up comb so the girls had to start from scratch and the bigger Virginia hive has been doing real well, I added a second full to them after the first month. The smaller Margarita was housed in a medium and I added a second medium at the same time as the larger Virigina hive.
A week or so ago I installed screen bottom boards with varroa board so I could see if there was a significant count. I also added a third full deep to the Virginia but placed it in the middle with two frames borrowed from the original boxes. It looked like more brood was in the second but could have been that the bottom had hatched a batch of brood since it had been roughly 1-1.5 months since they got in there. The top full also had honey and I was afraid they would feel honey bound.
Since the Margarita hive was visibly weaker but where in medium boxes from the beginning I installed a full deep in the second tier after having borrowed a frame of brood from the Virginia hive. This was preplanned to try and help them, I would have liked to have borrowed more then one but did not want to substantially weaken or slow the progress of our stronger hive.

About a week after doing this I met a local experienced and successful beekeeper that after telling her what I had, she suggested I combine them real soon so they will have 1 strong maybe 4 deep hive for winter instead of two smaller weaker ones. She says in our area the queens slow their egg laying in September so they need a strong population as soon as possible. She is also concerned if we happen to have a dry fall they could go into winter without sufficient supplies.
I was ready to do that but we have been moving our hives closer (a foot a day) since they where separated from the beginning. I figured they will be close enough within 2 weeks but since then the borrowed brood must have hatched and both hives are working like crazy. :banana:
I had placed a short and a medium empty boxes on top of the smaller hive to house the entrance feeder internally but after 3 days I checked it and found it was almost full, apparently choosing to feed from foraging. BTW I feed them 1:1 with Honey Bee Healthy. I left it in there and will check it tommorrow but their numbers and work ethic tells me they are happy. :gh:

I would not mind combining to have a stronger hive for winter then doing a split, or artificial swarm next May but I hate to lose a queen. I also don't know if I could winter a nuc well in Western NY winter?
Would it be a mistake to let them see what they can each do and if they are drawn out and well on their way by September then combine? :s

I do not keep the varroa board in all the time because I wanted them to have the ventilation and figure on just placing the board to do a 48 hr count check every once in a while. How often should I do a check?
So far an overnight check has shown 6 to 10 on a complete board, I check them with a magnifying glass and I was so pissed when I saw one crawling! :eek:

BTW the frames are pierco plastic centers on wood frames and the last ones where combined with some top bar and some foundationless frames to see which ones they prefer. It appears they are a little reluctant to the plastic but will find out for sure.

Any and all advice is appreciated.


Premium Member
1,314 Posts
You need advice from a local beek in your area. What I would do down here in Orlando is probably wrong. In fact most assuredly wrong for your location.

I do fall splits about Sep 15th.

So if you decide to combine, but don't know what to do with that queen, just put her in an envelope to me. (PM for mailing address) I'll give her a good home and report out on her in the spring for you.
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