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Transferring a small colony into a new hive.

 
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:33 am    Post subject: Transferring a small colony into a new hive. Reply with quote

I have a small colony that appears to have overwintered successfully. I'm amazed they've survived, having had just 3 small combs and no supplies last September. Rapid feeding, and donating another 2 small empty combs from my other hive, seems to have helped, and here we are in late March and they're looking very active.

They have a small packet of fondant over a hole I drilled through their top bars, and the internal temperature is 28C (I have a small digital thermometer probe permanently attached). Lots of pollen going in, and it's pretty clear they have brood.

I want to transfer them to a new full size hive, but not sure when to do it. My gut feeling is to leave well alone until mid April and it's warmer. But as they are currently closed down to just 5 bars, and are clearly ramping up, I am worried that they might swarm before I get them transferred! One possibility is to move the follower back and increase their current space to 6/7 bars. But would this effect their ability to keep the existing brood warm enough?

Any advice much appreciated. Thanks Mike
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd wait for a warm day and give them extra space if you're concerned. It's probably too cold for comb building though. They'll keep the brood warm, not the whole space. You can minimize chilling by lifting all of the top-bars together using a pair or 12 inch rules or similar.

Make sure the new hive entrance is in the same location as the old after the move.
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 260
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the time being, yes, leave them alone. Don't go worrying about swarming yet. I would then do it in two stages. First, do what you suggested and in mid April, give them space by increasing to 6/7 bars. When you can clearly see they have built out to 7 bars, you can then transfer to a full size hive. Don't be in a rush. They should carry on building comb and focus on establishing the colony. This. should keep them occupied enough to prevent swarming. No guarantee of course but the odds are fair.
Amazing how small colony's can overwinter and go on to thrive, never ceases to surprise me. Big is not always the best. Good luck.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also wouldn't be too keen to move them to the new hive just yet. They will have propolised some of the small hive they are in and that will be beneficial to them. I would give them the opportunity to grow a bit more in that hive by giving them more bars to extend onto before transferring them. I don't think you will see any significant comb building for a few weeks yet. Once they build out a couple of bars and are actively expanding, that's when I would transfer them.
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone. I'll wait until next month and then give them a bit of room to expand. And then see where it's going by the end of April with a view to transferring...
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jorgen
New Bee


Joined: 21 Mar 2016
Posts: 6
Location: Germany, Berlin

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like everyone here, I would wait for warmer days and until the bees are fully ready. But bees are bees and they might just come back. This happened to me. I moved them but they came back. I was so surprised! I thought this just couldn’t happen. So maybe you should be prepared.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slowly slowly catchy monkey.
It's mostly too cold for much comb building at the moment anyway and they don't have the workforce yet to settle into a new home. Grow them in their current hive. Once it is warm enough and they are strong enough then do the move.

In the meantime you could consider how you could make the "transplant" easier. eg orientate the nuc/bait hive so that the entrance is in the same location as the new hive will be once they are transplanted. By far the most successful hive switch involves putting the new hive in the exact location of the old hive. The spacial location of the entrance is more important than the "look" off the hive.
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2016 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With the great weather we've been having this last week I took the opportunity to transfer my bees to their new home. All seemed to go well and they seem to have settled nicely. Activity has been significantly increased in the last couple of days and several drones have been flying too. I took a few photos:-

https://goo.gl/photos/9nfhN4URaGKnZazy5
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