Combining the White Hive

There's a saying I keep hearing from the local beekeeping club: "It's better to take your losses in the fall than in the spring time."

I've taken this to mean if you know a hive isn't going to overwinter, to retire the hive or combine it with another hive before winter arrives. This allows you to secure the comb into storage and start with a strong split, swarm or new package of bees in the spring.

The white hive has gotten extremely weak with the queen not laying good eggs. So I combined it with one of the weaker hives at my dad's house.

We removed the feeder from the white hive, you can see it below leaning against the remaining blue and purple hive. The bottom box of the white hive was completely empty of bees, pollen and nectar so we didn't have to do too much work to decide which box (upper or lower) to use in the combine process.

We took the bottom board, top brood box, inner and outer cover and tied them shut for their trip across town. My towing straps were MIA so we used green webbing and bungee cords.

Bonus points if you can guess what make/model vehicle the bees are sitting in, just from the picture below. :)

With a short 10 minute trip, we arrived at the hives at my dad's house. The hive in the background of this picture is the one receiving the bees/food stores from my white hive. We refer to the closest hive in the picture as hive #1, and the farther away one as hive #2.

We opened the #2 hive and saw a well defined area of frames that the bees were occupying. Up close we could see they were on both sides of 6 frames.

To combine hives, it's important to kill the queen in one of the hives (preferably the weaker one). This way, the two queens don't fight when combined.

The next step is to lay a sheet of newspaper over the top of the existing hive (between the existing hive and the hive that it will be combined with).

Take a knife and cut several long slits into the newspaper. This helps the smell and pheromones of the queen to transfer up to the hive being combined with.

Once the bees are used to the new queen, they will finish eating through the newspaper, travel downward and mix with the existing hive without any threat of them trying to kill the bees or queen.

So that's how we left them. The existing two brood boxes from hive #2, and the top brood box of my white hive.

It will be interesting to go back in a few days and see if they did eat through the newspaper and join the hive below them.

Comments For This Post: (2) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
Holly says...
Date:   October 23, 2011, 11:38 am

Question: what did you use to block the entrance while traveling?

Chris (Show Me the Honey) says...
Date:   October 23, 2011, 5:37 pm

Good question! We removed the mouse guard, and took a piece of #8 mesh wire (same kind that is used for screened bottom boards) and bent it into a 45 degrees shape and pushed it into the opening of the hive.

It was pretty cool in the morning, and the bees weren't moving much anyways so it was a pretty uneventful move. Thankfully!

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