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Advice on uniting 2 brood-and-a-half configured hives

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margob99 

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Hello all,

My queenless hive is still showing signs of queenlessness (now there's a word for you), although mysteriously a torn-down QC has appeared (I'm assuming any queen that appears now is far too late for mating and will be unsuccessful).

For the pedants among you, the signs are:

- Grumpy bees
- no brood (at all, none whatsoever, nada, zip, zero, zilch, nothing)

My second hive is looking very quiet and calm and queen-right, although their brood super is looking surprisingly low on honey stores (I do wonder if the constant bombardment from wasps that they've suffered is anything to do with that, but that's another story).

Both hives are brood-and-a-half national configuration and because my apiary is badly arranged, the easiest for me will be to move the second hive a yard a day closer to the queenless hive, for the "unite through newspaper" method. I've started moving it already.

Now, the question is:

- When I unite, do I just take the first (queenless) hive (brood chamber and brood super) and place the whole lot on top of a sheet of newspaper on top of brood chamber and brood super of second (queenright) hive?

Or should I re-configure 2nd hive's super to place it right at the bottom of everything, out of the way? And can I potentially just clear and take away the 1st hive's brood super (won't it essentially be superfluous, and just make the whole thing way too high?)

Also, am I right (excuse the dumbness of the question), the bees in the top box now won't be able to get out into the fresh air at all until they've chewed through the newspaper and made their way through the 2nd hive at the bottom to the floor/doorway?

Also I've just finished first 2-week Apiguard treatment, removed the Apiguard and varroa boards; should I wait till after the unite before starting the second-phase 4-week treatment? Or immediately place new Apiguard in each of the hives right now while they're still separate?

Ta for your help!


Edited to add as an after-thought: it had occured to me to simply leave the grumpy first hive to die out, as my second hive is looking good for the winter - yes, the stores in the honey super are low, but I can feed, and they still look better prepared than my first hive did last winter, and that survived the winter ...

Is it mean of me to just let the remaining adult foragers in the first hive die out? Or is it one of those hard strategic decisions we have to take? I worry about uniting the grumpies with the calmies and ending up with super-grumpies, if you see what I mean.
 
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Polyanwood 

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Hello Margo

There are lots of beeks in London. If you expand on your location probably a nearby beek will help... I bet you would also get offers to take grumpy bees off your hands!!

Just a word of caution... I and many others have combined hives when one of the colonies was not actually queenless... very bad news. Worth checking and triple checking the queenless status of your hives.
 

margob99 

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Caution noted and valued. That mysterious torn-down QC concerns me! But surely it's too late for mating now? I promise you I have scrutinised and scrutinised the frames and there is absolutely no trace of rice-grains or brood of any kind. I guess there is an outside chance of a late mating now, so I'm hedging my bets - moving second hive into place just in case - but I do intend to do another full inspection of the first hive before actually doing the unite.
 
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MJBee 

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It is just the chance that there is a queen in there somewhere -if she is unmated, mated but not laying or mismated is immaterial if you unite they will fight and you could lose both queens.

A test frame will establish Q+ or Q- within 4 days.

I would remove both supers before uniting, a double brood box is big enough for the most prolific strains.
 

oliver90owner 

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There is still every chance of mating now. The drones will be a hardy lot although obviously depleted in numbers.

That said, it is one thing having a supercedure virgin getting mated, while the old queen is still quietly working away, laying the winter brood and ready to abdicate when appropriate (ie continuous brooding); but for a Q- colony, the situation is far more serious. I would say your best bet is a laying queen introduction, but those are fraught with all sorts of risk. Not the least is being sure there is no queen (of some sort) already there and also no laying workers. I would, if going that route, introduce with a smaller number of bees into a nuc and unite later. It all depends on how long the autumn takes to slide into wintry conditions - and no gaurantee or warranty given or implied!

Regards, RAB
 

Leigh 

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What follows isn't by any means a sure-fire way of knowing whether you have a queen waiting to get laying or not (a test frame of eggs is as good as it gets), but it is a useful indicator which may help you decide upon your course of action:

If a queen is mated and about to lay, you will see a very organised area of utterly empty and very clean, shiny cells.....often you'll find the queen is laying within a week of noticing these cells.

Time is the tricky thing at this time of year though. I've heard, from a very experienced beek, that if a late season new queen can get two breeding cycles under her belt before shutting down the hatches for winter, that should be sufficient to see them through.....as long as you have enough bees of course, to rear a good amount of young.
 

Polyanwood 

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Torn down queen cells are usually a good sign that there is a queen in there. My vote says you are probabaly Q+.
 

MuswellMetro 

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margo

you have Thymol treatment on, so it is very unlikey your new queen will lay even if mated, my hives have non laying queen this week because of apiquard treatment

you also have no brood, so no need for second apiguard, you have killed all the varroa on the bees, you have no brood so varroa cannot hide in the brood, were else are the varroa going to be, so stop the apiguard, you problay killed all the varroa by day 3

As you know my hives are 15min drive from your, they are very low on store, some are starving so we fed them 2ltrs 2:1 plus 2gm VitC per litre per week for the last week during our apiguard

so i suggest you feed them at least 2litres per week, perhaps 4litres

how long have they been broodless, when did the qc hatch, this determines when you need to combine i would say 35 days after the last larva seen or 30 days after hatch cell and then you need to think about it, thats not do it but think

do not bother to move slowly by 3ft if you combine, .~they top box wlll be locked in 24hrs or more and disoreientated for a week so should re orientate when the fly

but you can put a super and superr frames on the old stand with a sheet of ply on it, just to see what returns to the old hive site

Brood and half twice is a large number of bees, just wonder if it might be possible to get them on double brood so easily split next year, but not an expert of brood and a half so any other veiws
 

margob99 

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Ok, so that presumably means that - before I unite - I have to clear the supers on both hives with porter escapes, right?

But that's where both hives have been storing the majority of their honey stores, so how to I go about reintroducing these supers onto a double brood once united?

How do I do all of this while the successful hive is under 2nd phase (4-week) Apiguard treatment?

Should I wait 4 weeks for the Apiguard to finish, before uniting?

It is now 40 days since last Q died.

Surely if I unite in 4 weeks time at the end of the Apiguard treatment, most of the - by now, adult foragers - bees in the Q- hive will be at the end of their lifespan anyway?

So what would be the point of uniting? (refer to the last point of my original post above)
 

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