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Author Topic: Combine failed, what did I do wrong?  (Read 1274 times)
Koala John
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« on: October 28, 2009, 02:44:00 AM »

Hi,
It's Spring over here, and while there isn't a big flow on, there is plenty of foraging about and most hives are expanding quite well. I had two weak hives, and decided to do a newspaper combine. I found and killed the queen in one hive, and put a few holes in a sheet of newspaper with my hive tool to separate the two hives before combining them. When I came back a couple of weeks later, I found a huge number of dead bees out front, and one very weak hive.
Large portions (but not all) of the open brood was dead in the cells. I assume that there was just not enough bees left to feed and to keep all of the brood warm.  I can only assume that there was an all out war between the hives  Sad
The queen is laying fine, as I saw a lot of eggs.
Can anyone give me some ideas on what I did wrong please? I need to understand this or I'll be afraid to try another combine in future.

Thanks,
John.

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SlickMick
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2009, 03:09:04 AM »

John, what I think I would have done with the combine is to do the paper thing as you did but I would have checked things after a few hours (this is usually what I do and if things are ok I remove the paper). If there seems to be a problem with fighting I can then quickly put another sheet or two of paper in and let things settle down.

The other thing is once the two hives have settled down I would get rid of empty space, and if both colonies are weak removing one of the boxes and taking it back to a single deep. At least that way your brood nest is compacted and it has enough bees to take care of it.

Hope that helps

Mick
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On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
   And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross'd 'cept by folk that are lost,
   One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten-year-old lad,
   Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
   For the youngster had never been christened,
A BUSH CHRISTENING - A.B. "Banjo" Paterson http://www.middlemiss.org/lit/authors/patersonab/poetry/christen.html
TwT
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2009, 06:51:51 AM »

what do you mean by hole's? there should be no holes in the paper, just slit's, like get a razor and just slice the paper in a couple spots but not any holes, hole will defeat the purpose of slow acceptance.
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THAT's ME TO THE LEFT JUST 5 YEARS FROM NOW!!!!!!!!

Never be afraid to try something new.
Amateurs built the ark,
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Koala John
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2009, 07:08:58 AM »

TWT - I put slits in with the sharp end of my hive tool, probably about 4. So maybe one of the slits was too big, or I put too many in?

SlickMick, thanks. This is in a yard that is a long way from home. Next time I try this I'll make sure I can stay around for some hours to keep an eye on them.
This experience has really shaken my confidence in doing combines, I've done one before with similar poor results, so it has to be something I am getting completely wrong.
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SlickMick
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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2009, 07:53:06 AM »

John, I think TWT is correct. I put slits in the paper not holes.. usually only a couple. By the time the bees have chewed holes big enough to pass through they have met each other.

Mick
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On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
   And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross'd 'cept by folk that are lost,
   One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten-year-old lad,
   Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
   For the youngster had never been christened,
A BUSH CHRISTENING - A.B. "Banjo" Paterson http://www.middlemiss.org/lit/authors/patersonab/poetry/christen.html
Lone
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2009, 08:18:45 AM »

Maybe you didn't do anything wrong.  Maybe the bees did the wrong thing.
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sas_marine@hotmail.com
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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2009, 08:59:37 AM »

hey man, ive heard from a commercail guy that you should always combine at sunset in australia! this guy is a genious and really knows his stuff, maybe it might work?Huh
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sas_marine@hotmail.com
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2009, 09:02:19 AM »

oh, and one more thing, i just had him on the phone, he said a single sheet of newspaper, with approx half inch of long blade green grass inbetween, then another sheet of newspaper, like a sandwhich. he said bothe teams of bees then concentrate more on removing the grass then whos above the newspaper ?? he has never failed with this method he told me, give it a go mate Tongue
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kathyp
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2009, 10:09:39 AM »

sounds like what you did was ok.  the only time i have had a fighting problem was when one hive had stores and the other didn't.  i also had a lot die once when i didn't prop the top for an upper entrance.  it must have gotten hotter than i expected it to, or something....

other than those two things, sounds like what you did was ok.  i don't think 4 small slits were to many.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
heaflaw
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2009, 09:00:07 PM »

oh, and one more thing, i just had him on the phone, he said a single sheet of newspaper, with approx half inch of long blade green grass inbetween, then another sheet of newspaper, like a sandwhich. he said bothe teams of bees then concentrate more on removing the grass then whos above the newspaper ?? he has never failed with this method he told me, give it a go mate Tongue

Explain this to me better.  Is it one blade of grass or full of grass half an inch thick, or what?  Getting the bees to concentrate on a joint project while they inadvertantly combine seems brilliant.
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Art Buzz
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« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2009, 12:45:36 AM »

I'm in Northern California and have one single super hive with 2-3 frames of bees.  An old hive of mine just had a very small swarm (1 frame of bees) that formed during a 3 day hot spell.  I put them in a 2nd single super.  These are both so small I afraid they will not go through the winter.  I once saw a hive that had 2 colonies in one hive and screen between the supers.  2 entrees.   1 for bottom hive 1 for top. 

Any thoughts or ideas?

Art
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Koala John
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« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2009, 07:07:21 AM »

Thanks everyone for the advice. I feel pretty desperate about my poor success rate so will change what I am doing to see if I get better results - So I'll try your advice of fewer and smaller slits, try the double sheet method with some grass in the middle, and do it towards the end of the day. I'll let you know if the next one goes better!
Best regards, John.
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SlickMick
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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2009, 07:47:41 AM »

Art, you may need some advice from someone from your region at this time of the year.. I dont know if you snow or if you have more of a warmer climate. I think that your concerns about the survival of the 2 hives over winter are real. They each have a huge amount of space to attempt to manage over the colder months and I dont think that is likely in their present configuration.

If they were mine and I lived in a colder climate I am sure that I would combine them to give them mass and also put them into a nuc or certainly a smaller hive where they can cluster more effectively. If there are only 3-4 frames of bees all up you are going to have to feed them if you are not doing so already as I cant imagine that you would have much in stores in those 4 frames.. certainly not enough to get them through the colder months. You dont say what stores they have, if you are feeding them, if they have brood etc as this information is important to their survival.

Is there someone who lives close by who knows your climate and is able to help you out with advice. If you have a local beekeeping club it would be worth getting in touch with them

This may not be much help but I do think you need to act pretty quickly to bulk them up before the cold hits if it hasn't already

Mick

I'm in Northern California and have one single super hive with 2-3 frames of bees.  An old hive of mine just had a very small swarm (1 frame of bees) that formed during a 3 day hot spell.  I put them in a 2nd single super.  These are both so small I afraid they will not go through the winter.  I once saw a hive that had 2 colonies in one hive and screen between the supers.  2 entrees.   1 for bottom hive 1 for top. 

Any thoughts or ideas?

Art


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On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
   And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross'd 'cept by folk that are lost,
   One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten-year-old lad,
   Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
   For the youngster had never been christened,
A BUSH CHRISTENING - A.B. "Banjo" Paterson http://www.middlemiss.org/lit/authors/patersonab/poetry/christen.html
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