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Paper marriage ?

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    beekeeping forum -> Horizontal top bar hives
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 4:45 pm    Post subject: Paper marriage ? Reply with quote

I have 2 colonies separately in a Chandler design 46 inch TBH, both introduced this year - the original from a split and the second a few weeks later from a swarm I captured before I confirmed there was a laying queen in the original split.

Both colonies are growing well and have a laying queen.
The swarm colony has 13 bars (is building on the last 2), and is against the end of the hive on one end and is within 2 or 3 bars of the original colony.
The original centrally positioned colony is now within 7 bars of the other end of the hive.

I am not going to build another hive so would appreciated advice on merging the colonies.

When : sooner or later ? I assume there is risk of the swarm colony outgrowing its space and swarming again, but it may be better to wait until the end of the summer - two queens are better than one ?
Rearrangement of bars : At the moment a merge with bars in situ would have original colony brood, some stores, empty bars where I replace the follower boards and the gap , a bar or 2 of stores, then the second brood and a another bar or 2 of stores. Do they need to be rearranged ? If so to what ? Should this be done prior to the merge as I put the paper follower in, or after they have actually merged ?

Do not merge yet : if no merge is recommended yet, am I okay to move ALL the original swarm, in same sequence towards its end of the hive to allow growing space for the swarm colony ?

Thanks very much.

Mal
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1055
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given that they are unlikely to expand any further this season, I would be inclined to leave both as they are, except to place a single follower between them near the centre of the hive, with a colony each side of it, so they share each other's heat over winter.

Until they have gone through a winter, you cannot tell which will be the better queen long term, so rather than making a management decision now, you could let the bees guide you.

Anyway, by next spring, you may have decided that you need another hive...

Or (from spring 2015) you could try a two-queen system: place each colony at opposite ends, each on about 9 bars, with a vertical queen excluder (modified follower) facing towards the centre, with normal bars filling the gap. By the spring, the workers should have become used to each other's scent, so shouldn't fight. With a central entrance, plus one at each end, they will pack the space between the QXs with honey, while each queen does her own thing at each end.

Remove honey as soon as it is sealed, and with decent weather, you could have a bumper honey crop...
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 96
Location: Powys, Mid Wales

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

- Glad you asked this Mal, as, Phil, your reply's very helpful to me too. Maybe I don't after all have to either go mad with emergency carpentry right now in order to house splits, or try and give bees away for want of space. Many thanks to you both!
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this advice Phil, I will leave them as separate colonies.

Mal
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello - the above htbh came through the winter with both colonies intact.
Early season both were very busy with plenty of bees.
In late June I took Phil's advice (as above) and now have an arrangement of colony A 12 bars, queen excluder, 6 bars, queen excluder, colony B 12 bars. Each end brood section has an entrance, as does the honey section.

I inspected this weekend and though the brood sections appear as expected, the honey section has been built out almost fully with comb but has no stores whatsoever. Totally clean.

I appreciate both of the colonies may have swarmed, but am still a little surprised as my other 2nd yr htbh with a single swarm is pretty much filled out to bar 25 or so.

Is it unusual ?

And a 2nd question - I have a spare hive (waiting in vain for a swarm). Is it okay to transfer one of the colonies (bars and all) to the new hive at this stage of the season . Hive would be moved ony half mile ... I know there is discussion rgs 3ft/3miles versus obscuring the entrance.

Thanks
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi.

I think to run a two queen system like that, which is really not tried and tested to any extent, you need to monitor it very regularly and be experienced enough to read the situation as it develops and take appropriate action.

I think late June was probably too late to set it up. Did you inspect them when you put the queen excluders in? My feeling is that they had probably swarmed prior to that and therefore there would be a lull in production and the brood nest would be back filled..... my bees have a 4-6 week holiday after swarming when they have a rest from brood and collect very little nectar
I also think having the central hole open would leave them vulnerable to robbing once the colonies had swarmed. There are unlikely to be many guards in that central honey section and it will also then leave the individual colonies open to robbing through the queen excluder.

If they hadn't swarmed, inspection of the colony would have been very difficult if not impossible with a hive jam packed like that. If you missed a few days during a heavy flow, you would struggle to get any of those central honey combs out without significant breakage and mess. Personally I wouldn't want to attempt this, especially if I had another hive available that I could transfer one colony into.

If they are both viable colonies with laying queens then I would go ahead and transfer one to the new hive and obscure the entrance... if you get any drift back to the original site, the other colony will at least benefit from it

Also I would close that central entrance and reduce the end entrances to one hole or less and be vigilant for robbing. Wasps seem to be a particularly bad problem this year.

You need to make sure that both colonies have some stores and if not, start feeding.
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mal
Nurse Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Location: Rutland, Leicestershire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara

Yes, now you say it I see that the central holes into the honey section are just an open back door inviting the wasps in.

Yes both colonies appear queen right so will attempt a transfer of one of them to the new hive.

Thanks again for your advice.

Mal
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