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Author Topic: Colony Combine Question  (Read 1023 times)
uglyfrozenfish
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« on: June 19, 2011, 07:58:04 PM »

Hey all,
I have two hives that are struggling right now.  On my last inspection I did not see any brood in one and only a few drone brood in the other.  This week I plan on doing a complete investigation of these two hives to look for a queen in each.  I was thinking I would combine these two hives and requeen (regardless of whether or not I find a queensince the colonies aren't building very nicely).   I am planning on pulling a frame of capped brood out of a feral/survivor hive I have that is doing well and letting them raise their own queen.  My question is on timing.  Should I combine the two and after they've combined give them the brood to raise a queen?  Should I give the brood to one hive, let them raise her, and then do the combine?  Should I give the brood and do the combine at the same time?

Thank you for sharing your knowledge/experiences,
Lee
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AllenF
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2011, 08:31:48 PM »

With the drone layer hive, it may too late to save.    By the time the other hive makes a queen, they will be way over the edge.   Maybe combine now with brood added, but at least get some brood in there.   Just how long has the drone layer been queenless?
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uglyfrozenfish
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« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2011, 07:44:28 AM »

The hive that had a few drone brood was doing pretty well earlier this year.  When I checked three weeks ago there was still worker brood.  But when I checked last week there was only a few drone brood cells, which really suprised me.   
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caticind
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« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2011, 12:25:52 PM »

Drones take longer to emerge (about 4 days) than workers.  Were there eggs when you checked 3 weeks ago?

If there were eggs in worker brood comb three weeks ago, then you can actually date to the day when your queen stopped laying.  Workers emerge in 20 days (+/- 1) and drones in 24 (+/- 1).  Which would suggest that your queen may have been killed when you did your last inspection.

What is the weather like where you are?  Is there nectar flow?  Some very valuable queens will stop laying temporarily during a drought or dearth.

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kathyp
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« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2011, 01:18:10 PM »

Quote
I am planning on pulling a frame of capped brood out of a feral/survivor hive I have that is doing well and letting them raise their own queen

they can't raise a queen from capped brood.  you need eggs and small larvae. 

i would probably give brood and combine at the same time.  here is my reasoning:  if they have laying workers, they will not try to make queen cells (probably).  if they do not have laying workers, the brood should suppress the development of laying workers.  raising a good queen takes numbers and good feeding.  if you combine, you will have better numbers to bring in those resources.  be sure to put your egg frame where it will be easy to check and mark it.  in a few days you can check for queen cells and what you find will answer many of your questions. 

if the numbers are still pretty low, you might want to give a frame of capped brood also to keep numbers up until you have a laying queen.

if you have laying workers, you should see brood...even though it will all end up being drone.  it's usually scattered rather than the tight brood pattern that a queen will lay.

when you go into your hives look carefully at your brood numbers and patterns.  look also to see what kind of stores they have and look for mites.  there are other things that can take a hive down even if the queen is good.  a queen may back off laying if there are not the resources to care for the brood. 

as always, if you have questions and can get some good pictures, it helps a lot.
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uglyfrozenfish
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« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2011, 08:58:21 PM »

What is the weather like where you are?  Is there nectar flow?  Some very valuable queens will stop laying temporarily during a drought or dearth.

We are in the middle of our main flow season in MI.  temps are 70-85 and 50s at night. 


If there were eggs in worker brood comb three weeks ago, then you can actually date to the day when your queen stopped laying.  Workers emerge in 20 days (+/- 1) and drones in 24 (+/- 1).  Which would suggest that your queen may have been killed when you did your last inspection.

This might be possible or maybe just before I did an inspection.  Either way this was really helpfull information.

they can't raise a queen from capped brood.  you need eggs and small larvae. 

Thanks Kathy I hadn't realized this. 


Question, I have had difficulty seeing eggs so far on my inspections.  I have been looking in old dark comb.  Do you have any hints, reccommendations on how to better see eggs? 

Thank you for all your wonderful help!!

Lee
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L Daxon
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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2011, 10:49:22 PM »

Lee,

I have terrible time seeing eggs. Even tried using a magnifying glass.  What has helped is using my camera and taking pictures.  When I blow up the pix on the computer I often see eggs I didn't see during the inspection.

Now this doesn't help much if you are looking for eggs to move to another hive and you want to know for sure there are eggs during the inspection so you know what frames to swap out.

You are more likely to find eggs on a frame with larva than one that is full of capped brood.  If you see small larva, there is a good chance eggs are nearby, if there appear to be open cells nearby. I see that a lot in my camera shots.

ld
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linda d
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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2011, 11:44:19 PM »

.
I use to pile two hives together and they will be combined so without any tricks.
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sc-bee
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« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2011, 11:55:24 PM »

Try a small led flashlight, sometimes this helps. Of course using the sun, learn to position the sun over your back shoulder shining down on the frame and tilt the frame for the sun to shine down in the cell.

In the laying worker hive if indeed it is you should be able to see mutiple eggs in one cell and often the eggs are stuck to the side of the cell and not the bottom.
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uglyfrozenfish
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2011, 01:57:39 PM »

Thanks SC-Bee I will try the led method since the hive I'm taking from is in a shaded area.  Idaxon I will try the camera sometime when I can have someone else take the pics.  I value my camera too much to get it sticky trying to use it with my gloves. Wink
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uglyfrozenfish
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« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2011, 04:51:37 PM »

UPDATE:

On saturday I drove to another  yard and grabbed a couple of frames of brood.  I was really happy.  The bees were making beautiful straight comb and I actually saw eggs and larvae in the frames(first time)!!

I drove the frames back to my house to put them into their new colonies.  Before doing so I did a quick check.  The first colony was the one I was going to have make the queen.  Unfortunately I saw eggs, and their were multiple per cell and in the sidewall.  Quite positive then that this colony went laying worker a day or two ago.  There was no larvae present.  The second hive had lots of drone capped drone brood as well as drone larvae and multiple eggs, so I was very sure this one has been laying worker for a while longer. 

I took a break and read Michael Bush's suggestions.  I decided not to do the combine since they were both laying worker.   The colony with capped brood I simply dissolved according to Michael Bush's recomendation where I  put the frames in front of the other hives.  I left the lid off of the box so that the rest of the bees would dissipate to the other hives.
 I decided that since I already had the brood I would attempt to requeen the first hive knowing that I wasn't going to be able to add a frame of brood a week and that this would be a one time shot.  Here's what I came up with.  I took the two frames of comb that had eggs in them from the laying worker, hoped to goodness that she would be on one of them and put them out in the yard.  I then smoked the crap out of the hive to try (in vain I'm sure) and dissipate the pheramone from the laying worker.  Then I put in the two frames of brood from the other hive and closed them up.  Said a prayer and we'll see if they raise a queen in a week or so.

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