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Discussion Starter #1
I finally went and moved the lang into the new top bar hive sunday. I couldnt find the queen but decided to just shake the frames into the top bar and hope she stayed put. Well, either she flew off and couldnt find her home and wound up getting balled by the other hive, or was killed while moving. Either way I have emergency cells. She just started laying so not much in the way of brood. The way I look at it, I have a couple options but with it being july, I'm unsure. One thing I will do is try and shake some bees into the queenless hive because the bees that are in there now are reaching the end of their life, and need some more workers. The other hive however I need to keep a close eye on and make sure they dont swarm on me. They have started backfilling and there is far less brood than there was, but a ton of bees of every bar, comb being drawn, it looks great.

Anyways, my options as I see it are.
1. Shake bees and let them raise a new queen.
2. Find the original queen in the big hive and move her and some new bees into the queenless hive, let the other hive raise a new queen.
3. Purchase a local mated queen.
4. Combine the original hive and hope I get through the winter with the hive.
5. Put the weak hive into a small nuc, let them raise a queen and try and get their stores up before winter.

Either way, lesson learned, I was in a rush, wanting to get that done and out of the heat, and I'm paying for it now.
 

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They could have balled her.

This past weekend I shook a small/weak colony into new accommodations that have my new bars. I put in three partially drawn new style bars from two of my stronger colonies along with attached bees. I located the queen (who is fairly recently mated and just started laying), and gently shook those bees into the nuc, then added the rest. When I was going to close up I noticed that a bunch of the bees were clumping up in the back away from the combs. Fearing that they were balling the queen I grabbed up the clump and sure enough there she was in the center. I caged her and hung her cage adjacent to the third comb. I checked them yesterday, after three days, and there was still a clump of bees on the cage. Today I looked and there were fewer bees on the cage and I could see them feeding her so I released her. I hope I waited long enough!

I'm not sure if she was being balled because of the bees from the other colonies or if they were blaming her for the upheaval but I was really glad I noticed. There was one other variable, this colony took a long time to requeen (the first one they made didn't make it back from mating) and the workers had just started laying when their second (and current) queen hatched. I needed to get them off their old comb or I wouldn't have done it so soon.

Since you cite they are weak I might go with option 3 (to get them going faster), otherwise I would likely do 1. I'd worry that I would need to cage the queen for a bit with option 2, plus if they already have queen cells going in the nuc I'd worry that I would miss one or two and set both back instead of just one.
 

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It is definitely an option but I left it out for the reason you mention. I think there is still plenty of season left for them if you feed. Then in the fall if they are still weak you can combine then.
 

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Then in the fall if they are still weak you can combine then.
What Colleen O says. I have a weak hive (due a faulty installation on my part where half of them took off for parts unknown) and they just haven't been able to catch up. I asked senior beeks about combining them with another more robust hive and they all said to wait, and see what happens. Some miracle will have to happen for them to rebound but as Colleen says, we can always combine them in the fall.
I agree, I think you should go with option 3: purchase a queen asap. It will take weeks for a raised queen to mature, be mated and start laying - and you can't be sure she'll return from her mating flight and then what? Good luck, whichever you decide.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thankfully the local Beek store was open on the 5th so I went ahead purchased a queen... sad part is I cooked her by accident while getting my smoker lit. Placed her in direct sunlight. Had to go get another one :( . ouch. I shook some more bees in too, so now its more a nuc right now just with about 4 frames of stores. I took the honey frames (4 of them) and placed them in the back of the hive, however it appears that unlike the split about a month or two ago, these are quite content to keep them right where they are. I want them to keep their stores but the last time I tried to crush and strain it they wouldnt touch it so long as it was some container. I'd have to pour some of it into the hive in order for them to actually touch it.

Should I just take them out of the hive and let both rob them out or gradually feed them back their honey about twice a day till its all gone?
 

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There is another option, that I don't believe you've mentioned. Give this weaker colony some emerging brood from one of the stronger colonies, one that can spare it. You could even switch combs, returning combs of eggs, from the weaker colony, for the comb of emerging brood.

For me, it is much less traumatic to swap combs (rather than bees), between colonies, to facilitate having most colonies of similar strength. Colonies with large populations of workers can easily rear more brood. While, colonies with fewer workers can get a quick population boost from donated combs of emerging brood.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I wish i could but new hive is not as deep and wide as the queenright TBH. The queen-right hive has a 1x6 bottom board and the sides are two 1x8s. The queenless is all 1x10s. I do plan on making everything pretty universal next year, possibly out of 1x12s, I have some plywood that I can cut down to 1ft sections and see how it assembles. Though next year I plan to have a table saw so I may wind up moving these hives into something else and ripping the boards down as top bars.
 

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Yikes, lack of interchangeability can sure complicate beekeeping.

Though, shorter Top Bars can have longer pieces fastened to their top sides (so they can better fit in larger hives). It is more complicated to have larger Top Bars to fit in smaller hives (some comb would need to be trimmed off). I've done it both ways, so it is possible, just not as easy as when all Top Bars/Frames are the same size.

I don't regularly run Top Bar hives, but I've worked with many, for different customers. Curiously enough almost every customer uses a different size of Top Bar. Unfortunately, this has made it necessary for me to perform manipulations, where, I've sometimes needed to screw a longer, temporary Top Bar onto shorter Top Bars, so they'd fit where I needed them. And, sometimes, the more complicated and messy, trimming comb edges to get larger combs into smaller Top Bar hives. And, of course, especially in my circumstances, I nearly always had to reverse the process, at some point - moving the Top Bars back to their original positions, and undoing the mods. The bees had little problem expanding again, combs that were trimmed, and of course, those that had been grown larger, now needed trimmed (that was messier).
 
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