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Author Topic: combining colonies  (Read 2047 times)
dave33let
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« on: January 13, 2010, 07:00:09 PM »

G'day, I've only been keeping for a little while now and have just combined a small swarm with an existing colony and have a few Q's.
First of all the swarm was hanging off a tree for at least two weeks, and was very small, about the size of a grapefruit, and when  I caught them they were fairly aggro, especially considering it was still quite cool (10-12*c). The swarm was in a very exposed position and had no comb built, just hanging about.
Does the fact they were hanging around for so long indicate they were queenless?
I put them in a cardboard box which i placed in a medium super on top of an existing colony, seperated by two sheets of newspaper, along with a container of sugar syrup. When I opened the cardboard box, only three or four bees escaped before I got the lid on.
 Now though there is a significant number of bees clustered on the outside rear of the box, but I'm sure there is no way out of the super but through the paper. Are the bees clustering likely to be the "originals" just stirred up because they can sense the intruders in thier home. The cluster is centred around the join in the lid which has a small gap for ventilation.
Cheers, Dave.
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JP
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2010, 09:22:03 PM »

It is odd that bees would stay in a cluster and build absolutely no comb whatsoever for two weeks which would leave me to also believe they are probably queenless, but how can anyone really be certain without seeing them/going through them?

When you started explaining what was going on with the cardboard box with bees clustering etc... I began to get confused at what you were describing or rather insinuating.

But, I'm going to take a stab at it. Slight chance you did have a queen in the cardboard box, she moved out and others clustered around her, or some just moved out and began clustering on the exterior of the cardboard box.

The bees in the cardboard box if queenless would be interested in combining with the queenright hive, so they, if queenless would naturally gravitate to the queenright hive.

Queenright hives on the other hand are often aggressive towards strange bees that have been placed near them and can become agitated.

I hope this helps.


...JP

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doak
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2010, 10:06:02 PM »

What JP said.
I would take the cluster/swarm and make a small nuc and see if they stay.
You are in spring time right?
If they stay in the nuc, feeding them, then in a week to 10 days see if you have any eggs and/or brood.
The ones that stayed in the card board box will most likely make their way into and be accepted by the queen right hive.

If you have the extra boxes put a box on a bottom board then if you have one, put a queen excluder on then another box and dump the suspected queen less ball of bees in the box. If the workers go into the bottom and if there is a queen  there will be a few workers left behind clustering with her.
As she cannot go through the x cluder.
If you find her by this method, just remove the top box, flip the  x cluder over dumping the queen and her court in the bottom and put a top cover on and feed-em.
Hope this helps. :)doak
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rdy-b
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2010, 10:21:36 PM »

  The bees clustered on the outside of the HIVE-are from the SMALL swarm-scouts -part of field force what ever-If the swarm had a queen it was probably virgin-swarms that small are cast swarms not prime(with old queen)-any way a lot of trouble for a grapefruit size swarm-but I would leave the newspaper in and would dump the cardboard box into the supper with the newspaper -they will need a drawn frame-(not a cardboard box) inplace then with one small hole in the newspaper let the  bees do there thing -in time -go back remove extra equpment and you will be good-RDY-B
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dave33let
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2010, 11:11:03 PM »

Thanks for the replies. Just to clarify, the small swarm I collected today I placed box and all in a medium super, toward the back of the super, with some sugar syrup, above an established colony, with the two separated by newspaper. Between opening the box with today's swarm in, and placing the lid on the lot, only a few of the swarm bees escaped. I am positive that the new swarm is in a bee proof super above the existing colony (the lid has screened vent holes, and sits proud of the super by 3mm(1/8th inch) all round).
The bees "clustering" are on the outside of the super, along one side and the back, concenrated around the vents and the gap. Either I left a bee size gap somewhere and today's swarm is out and sitting on the outside of another colony's house, or bees from the existing colony are taking a very keen interest in the intruders. By the way, I took my time closing up, and am sure that the super is bee proof, but it wouldn't be my first cockup. Is it common for the existing colony to show a large amount of interest in the new girls when combining, and is this likely to be what I am seeing?
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rdy-b
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2010, 12:25:48 AM »

where did you catch the swarm-if the swarm came from same location that holds the hive -then they are part of the swarm -if they came from different locations then they are part of original hive -but what is the difference if they are not fighting-anyway instead of placing the cardboard box in the supper you could have dumped it into the supper just as you had it set up -with the news paper-and left them a frame to occupy-and then if you wanted you could even go back and look at the frame to find a queen or not-the bees would have been better off with a frame instead of a cardboard box -but that dose not mean it wont work out in your favor-but to COMBINE it is easier to dumb the swarm in over news paper - the next one might be bigger -so where did the swarm come from- cool  let us know if the bees are still in the card board box -(which is inside the supper ) or if they chewed through -or if it was a cocked lid and they went outside -if so its because they needed a frame to hold them -you could even use a frame from bellow for a day or to and return it -or not-by the way somtimes swarms just wont stay put -no matter what you ofer them(i know you gave them sryup) still curious about the ORIGIN of the swarm Smiley RDY-B
« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 12:37:48 AM by rdy-b » Logged
dave33let
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2010, 05:59:57 AM »

rdy-b, the existing colony was a swarm caught 3 mths ago, the two swarms came from areas about 50km apart, so not even cousins? Have had a good look and the lid, super etc all appears lined up, so I think the bees clustered on the exterior rear of the box must be from the existing colony. Assuming the previous sentence is correct, has anyone else struck this sort of thing when combining using newspaper. My thinking is that the attraction would either be the intruders on their patch, or the syrup in the super, which has a spoonful of honey in it (makes it more attractive to them? Dunno if it makes sense to the bees, but it does to me!).
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JP
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2010, 10:26:49 AM »

rdy-b, the existing colony was a swarm caught 3 mths ago, the two swarms came from areas about 50km apart, so not even cousins? Have had a good look and the lid, super etc all appears lined up, so I think the bees clustered on the exterior rear of the box must be from the existing colony. Assuming the previous sentence is correct, has anyone else struck this sort of thing when combining using newspaper. My thinking is that the attraction would either be the intruders on their patch, or the syrup in the super, which has a spoonful of honey in it (makes it more attractive to them? Dunno if it makes sense to the bees, but it does to me!).

It could very well be that the queenright colony is in fact interested in the syrup you provided.

Did you happen to cut slits in the newspaper you used to do the combine? I always make slits.


...JP
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dave33let
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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2010, 09:28:03 PM »

I combined two colonies a while ago cutting slits in the paper, and there was an enormous amount of frenzied activity in the yard within a couple of hours, and I thought that maybe the new colony which was quite large, had gone through the paper too quickly? Any way this time I didn't make slits, figuring that with the addition of the syrup, it'd be no biggy if they took a day or two extra to get through. I wonder how necessary the slits are anyway given the things you hear about bees chewing through!
Or are the slits to show where to start chewing? Anyway I figured with bees working from both sides they should be through pretty quick, and I can clean out the super and whack some frames in.
Someone commented earlier that it was a lot of trouble to go to for such a small swarm, but being new to this I figure the practce won't hurt, and hey I'll get at least a weeks work out of the new girls, and having been out there for so long I assume they must have been pretty close to starvation anyway. Any excuse to lift the lid and poke about eh!
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JP
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« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2010, 07:13:13 AM »

If you don't make slits, you'll need to make sure the bees in the upper box have ventilation. Some don't chew through on our time table. I like to give them a head start by making slits and it ensures they don't get overheated and die before the combine.


...JP
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« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2010, 09:31:20 AM »

Bet it's just interest in robbing the syrup they smell in that can.
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De Colores,
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« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2010, 12:27:41 PM »

even if you do make slits, i'd still leave an upper opening.  especially if it's hot. 

the slits give the hive smells a chance to mix before the bees do.
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JP
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« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2010, 03:51:45 PM »

Another nice lil trick is to spray both sides of the newspaper with sugar water. Keeps everyone occupied, making for an easier combine.


...JP
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"Good friends are as sweet as honey" Winne the Pooh

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dave33let
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2010, 04:59:06 AM »

I like the syrup on the paper idea. All seems settled after a day or two, opened the top super yesterday, and replaced the centre frames, all the bees seem to be getting on, with bulk activity today after a day of intermittent rain. Thanks for all your help and suggestions, Dave.
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JP
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2010, 10:52:47 AM »

So Dave, are the two colonies one now? Did they in fact combine? You should have one colony by now.


...JP
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dave33let
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2010, 06:48:49 AM »

Yeah all one now , holes through the paper, and no-one is trying to cram their head through the ventilation gap in the lid, all back to normal. Dave
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JP
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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2010, 10:02:00 AM »

Glad it worked out for you Dave.


...JP
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"Good friends are as sweet as honey" Winne the Pooh

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