Saturday 14 April 2012

Uniting 2 beehives

We have had a bit of a setback with our beehives. Two of them are strong but the 3rd one did not appear to be doing too well. The number of bees flying to and from it was falling and we did not see much pollen being brought in, which meant there was no brood which meant the queen was probably dead and not replaced. We checked out the hive and sure enough, there was no brood and no sign of a queen. We therefore took the decision to merge the hive with another as, at this time of year, no one would have a queen we could add to the hive.

The process took a few days to complete. The weak hive had to be moved gradually closer to the strong one. A sudden move would mean the bees flying back to where the hive previous was. They would then find no hive there but have no where to go.

Once the hives were side by side, we opened the strong one, placed a single sheet of newspaper over the frames and put the brood box containing all the bees from the old hive onto the newspaper. We then put the roof onto it. In the time it would take for the bees to eat their way through the paper, they would get used to the smell of each other. The bees from both hives would therefore not feel they were being invaded by another colony.

The result is that we now have a super strong hive and we will be looking to artificially swarm it to get a 3rd hive up and running later in the spring.


Anonymous said...

How long does it take until you'll know they merged successfully?

Jonathan Wallace said...

The only way to check for definite is to open the hive. We haven't done that yet and it is 2 weeks since we merged them. However, there has been a great deal of activity from the bees - flying in and out and carrying lots of pollen which indicates the colony is performing well. We will open the hive over the next few days.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for that. A really interesting film . Hope it all goes successfully and you manage to get lots of delicious honey this year. Jules

Kitty Greene said...

Hi, I've only just found your blog, and am enjoying reading through it.
Do you ever have that 'bee' disease, can't remember what it is now, beginning with a 'v' though.

Jonathan Wallace said...

I think you mean Varroa. It is a mite that lives in the hives and on the bees. Yes, our hives do have varroa, as do the vast majority of hives now in the UK. The approach is to manage it and keep it under control. We have to live with it. We can't eradicate it.