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How do I combine two small swarms?

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dudley 

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I would like to combine two small swarms. I took one yesterday and it is now in a nuc box in my apiary, the other is in the process of being taken, that is, I have the queen in my swarm box, still at the swarm site (2pm is early in the day to take a swarm I know, but they are in a very public place by a school so i had to act), and I shall be returning later to bring them home,fingers cossed they are still there and not re-swarmed.
But if I do get them home this evening, how do I go on about about combining them?
I have been reading up on the site and found threads relating to perfume, rose water, newspaper, etc but not a step by step plan of attack. Can someone direct me to a good thread on the subject or give me basic instructions?

Thanks Steve.
 

Rosti 

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By the sounds of it you do not know that either queen is mated and laying yet, as such you are gambling as to which you should combine until you know which is a mated layer. You have three weeks to wait while they build up seperately or you take a chance. Either you are going to kill one queen (if you can find them at this stage) or you will let the girls decide.

I combine using newspaper and caster sugar plus lemongrass (only done it once mind you!)

Place 1 drop of lemongrass on the top of a central frame.
Sprinkle caster on recipient hive bees
Place sheet of newspaper on top of brood box, make a couple of small rips with hive tool.
Place a donar brood box on top paper, transfer any donor frames to this.
1 drop lemongrass to a frame side (attempting to unify smell of the two colonies)
knock in all remaining bees from donor
Sprinkle with caster sugar.
Crown board on and shut up shop.
Wait 48 hours and then manage any brood in donor frames.
 

dudley 

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Thanks for that Rosti,

So should I place the nuc boxes of todays swarm and yesterdays swarm really close, say side by side or one on top of the other, wait until Queens are laying and then do the combining?

Steve.
 

Rosti 

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It is normal to take the weakest colony to the strongest (so your strong one suffers least disruption). I guess in this case you have two small colonies and no laying queens so bringing them within 3 ft of each other and making sure no other hives are within say 5 ft of them should make sure they get all their flyers back when you do combine. Normal to combine during the early evening by the way to minimise flyers. You dont have much to lose and may get a few extra frames drawn by waiting to see if / which queens go into lay. You'll use all the frames any way making up your single brood box

If you have two 5 frame nucs then you will still need two brood boxes to combine this way. 48 hours later you can then move your 5 + 5 in the one brood box, what you will not know is which queen has been 'selected' by the girls (unless you mark diff colours before or make the choice yourself). I woukld suggest that when you bring your nuc frames together you keep your 'dominant' colonies brood nest together (i.e. the one from which you selected the queen or the one from which the surviving queen came -if you were able to mark that is)
 
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Midland Beek 

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You cannot combine them unless you find and kill the queen in one of them.

Combining them now is counter intuitive. If they are small swarms they are most likely casts containing virgin queens. Why reduce the chances of getting a mated and egg laying queen at the end of this all?

And finding a virgin queen is not easy.
 

Rosti 

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You cannot combine them unless you find and kill the queen in one of them.
I agree with your comment in that I would not combine until both were laying and identifiable, you'll need 10+ drawn frames anyway. You could combine and let the girls decide though I would not. I was trying to avoid taking a 'though must not' position because you can gaurantee someone on here will take a 'though must' position and just confuse / side track the whole thing!
 

johna 

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Why bother to combine them ?. Why not keep them separate,hopefully get them both mated,keep one and give the other one to a beginner who is desparate to get hold of some bees.
 

Rosti 

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Why bother to combine them ?. Why not keep them separate,hopefully get them both mated,keep one and give the other one to a beginner who is desparate to get hold of some bees.
In a phrase 'critical mass' or another 'self preservation'. Leaving two small colonies leaves two vulnerable colonies. A typical queen has reached it's peak laying about now. To allow the colony to build it needs foragers and house bees to make the best of what resources are available to become strong enough to be viable over winter. Seems a long way off but in worker hatch periods you dont have much more (if any) expansion to play with. Combining to one queen but with the laid brood from the two smaller colonies and the combined foraging mass and house bees coming along behind is probably the best chance of a viable colony come April 2011. Might even get a modest honey crop as well!
 

oliver90owner 

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I might consider other options, until the queens are laying a second round of brood, so that laying pattern, health and docility can be assesed among other desired traits (ignoring the swarmy nature of them).

If available I might add some hatching brood to help push them along, as long as both are healthy (but I would not be swapping frames back to the donors at this stage, not until I was sure of the health angle). Drawn frames comes to mind (included in the hatching brood option) as another option to help them develop. Even some extra house bees.......I might even be trying to get another queen from the other colonies to requeen one or the other or both (if united later). Options, options, options.

There should be no hassle, apart from getting them strong enough before the wasps become a nuisance, if enough spare bees/frames are available to juggle. Depends really on what the end goal is - expansion in colonies or more honey crop.

Regards, RAB
 

dudley 

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In a phrase 'critical mass' or another 'self preservation'. Leaving two small colonies leaves two vulnerable colonies. A typical queen has reached it's peak laying about now. To allow the colony to build it needs foragers and house bees to make the best of what resources are available to become strong enough to be viable over winter. Seems a long way off but in worker hatch periods you dont have much more (if any) expansion to play with. Combining to one queen but with the laid brood from the two smaller colonies and the combined foraging mass and house bees coming along behind is probably the best chance of a viable colony come April 2011. Might even get a modest honey crop as well!


My thought was that these 2 casts would fair better being put together. I now have them safely in 5 frame nucs. I shall feed them and wait a few weeks and see how they are getting on before I do anything else. It will give me time to plan my next move anyway.. Thanks guys.
Steve.
 

Mike a 

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My thought was that these 2 casts would fair better being put together. I now have them safely in 5 frame nucs. I shall feed them and wait a few weeks and see how they are getting on before I do anything else. It will give me time to plan my next move anyway.. Thanks guys.
Steve.
Check their level of stores before you put any more feed in which could lead to the queen having no room to lay (honey bound) if you over feed them. Chances are they may not take anyway now if the real thing is out there in your local area.
 

dudley 

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Check their level of stores before you put any more feed in which could lead to the queen having no room to lay (honey bound) if you over feed them. Chances are they may not take anyway now if the real thing is out there in your local area.
They will only have the food they brought with them. I have just hived these casts into nuc boxes (hot off my work bench today) with new frames and foundation. My mentor said "always use new foundation for a swarm as nothing draws out foundation quicker than a swarm".
But I am going to take RABs advice and put into each a frame of brood from my other colonies to help them along.
Steve.
 

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