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Combining two weak colonies? How to go about it


#1

I have the Worlds Tiniest Swarm- and another very weak little colony that may be queenless. Both are in Nuc boxes and one has three frames with bees- the other just two. I am thinking of combining the two into one. One has a recently emerged queen that may or may not have mated by now- the other is possibly queenless.

If I wanted to merge them how might I go about it? The other option is to let the one with the young queen slowly build up- and give the other a frame of brood with eggs on it. I am not fussed if they build up slowly- but just want to make sure they both survive.

One has an upper entrance- so conceivably I could stack the two nuc boxes with a few sheets of newspaper (how many layers should I use?) in between and let the bees chew through until they combine. Once they have melded into one I could move the frames from upstairs down so that the bottom box is pretty much full and they can keep it warm and cozy.

EDIT: I just realized there is a complication- the two colonies are here at my house and they are a few meters apart. I would have to move one to the other- which might cause some confusion with foragers… perhaps i should just build them up individually…


#2

Michelle,

Basicly you have a great plan already. You seem to have it worked out just perfect. I use a couple sheets of normal newpaper sheet. Depending on the number of bees it only takes 3 to maybe 5 days for them to chew thru…

I’ve done a couple of the Newpaper joins over the last couple seasons. I also help a small commercial beekeeper n did several successful combos this season ! Maybe some will add to this if I’ve forgot something but don’t think so but at 72,yrs we can get lapse of memory I’m told LOL :joy: . Wishing you success n another piece info in the puzzle of Beekeeping.

Go for if young lady,

Gerald


#3

Two is enough. :blush:

As far as the separation is concerned, i wouldn’t sweat it. They will drift over and bribe their way in if needed.


#4

err Jerry (@Gerald_Nickel), that young lady is actually a young man who has taken over his mother’s account!!! :blush:


#5

maybe it’s finally time to end the confusion and finally update the profile… :laughing:


#6

I found recently the bonus with a newspaper combine is marvelling at the amazing fine fluffy bits of newspaper expelled at the front of the hive.


#7

Just did the very same thing with a 5 frame with Queen & 4 frame weaker colony ( really 2 frames brood & 1 & 1/2 pollen/honey) I used newspaper method. Colonies were originally approx. 5m apart, moved weaker to stronger as although they don’t really need warmth from stronger hive, less foragers at weaker hive, therefore less foragers to return to the original position, if makes sense?


#8

Yep. Bees reorientate after fighting through the newspaper
I might wait till one queen is laying though and definitely remove the other


#9

One. Any more is too many.


#10

Ohhhhh well ! Didn’t have a clue ! Hard to tell the difference here from the text :blush: Welcome aboard young man ! I’ve been out of Dodge/offline for awhile. Life n stuff changes !

Cheers.

P.S. Michaels probably right about one layer or two. But guess … my bees are rougher n tougher so i make therm work harder :blush::+1:


#11

I think that’s what Ill do- check to make sure the one hive actually has a queen or not- and then wait until the virgin queen has started to lay. we’ve had a cold wet spell this last week. I had planned to nix the merge and instead add brood from my long hive. But I just inspected that and super-ed it with two ideal supers (20 frames total)- and don’t want to lose any brood from it. I am hoping it will explode in numbers over the next month.

Out of interest: what would happen if you tried this and there were two queens? I assume they’d fight it out?


#12

I agree with @Gerald_Nickel. My bees need 2 layers much of the time to help them integrate peacefully. One layer = dead bees thrown out of the hive, two layers = chewed paper thrown out of the hive. I prefer the two layer result.

This is assuming you are putting field bees (foragers) in the upper layer. If they are just nurse bees, one layer is plenty and you may not even need that, depending on how many there are. :blush:


#13

Yip ! A duel to the END ! Hopefully one end up the winner … but no garentee! Let the best one WIN if there’s two !

Cheers.


#14

@Semaphore
The two I merged both had queens - one not laying and the other one older and laying. I didn’t actually understand when I did it, that both hives had a queen (long story), suffice to say the hive seems quite good and I have the Flow super on it - I’m not sure which queen made it (if any) but will brood inspect soon. I’ll look for some eggs rather than a queen.


#15

basically there would be all types of bee in both layers- two tiny colonies that barely cover two frames each. Both were small swarms caught around 4 weeks ago. Both seem to be struggling to get ahead… one had a queen cell that will have hatched in the last few days- or maybe a week ago. The other maybe doesn’t have any queen- I am going to have to go in and look to see. When I did inspect there were only two frames that had been worked and the one I looked at was all nectar and pollen. I didn’t want to disturb the other frame at that time- but I am guessing- there won’t be eggs on it. It could be that that swarm had a virgin queen and she isn’t laying yet- or the queen may have been defunct/damaged/dead as that swarm was found laying on a lawn and had been there for five days apparently. the only reason i can think of why a swarm would lay on the ground is if the queen was damaged or weak and couldn’t fly to a better location.

anyhow it’s raining today so I am going to wait a few days before I look in and find out what’s going on.


#16

No. The bees from one hive would kill the queen from the other. The only time queens fight is when virgins emerge together


#17

Hi Jack.

Just letting you know my combined hive has a laying queen - so one survived, and it is probably my strongest hive now. It really picked up with the combine and seems to be on top of the chalkbrood. I have it at two deep brood boxes with the Flow super on top. I don’t know about how many sheets to use because I have only done it once, but I used one sheet and cut slits in it. I didn’t notice dead bees at the front to any extent after the combine, just the fluffy paper.


#18

I always use 2 sheets. You can put a couple of small nail holes in them to give the bees a starting point. It’s not a good idea to do this during bad weather or a honey dearth. Also consider ventilation in the top box.


#19

Jeffs point is really important. If the top colony is large I always lift the top board with some coins till they are through properly


#20

I combined them yesterday- I just used a single sheet. No need to worry about ventilation- both colonies are tiny- they could be housed in teacups… I gave the bottom one a frame crammed with eggs and some emerging brood and honey/pollen and fed the top one honey. Both have their own entrances. In a few days I will consolidate them down into one box. So far so good: