To merge colonies or not?

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Smythical 

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I am in my third year of beekeeping and managed 24kg from two hives last year. Alas, right now, one of my colonies seems queenless and v low on numbers (no eggs or brood), but the other, while still small, is at least queen-right. Should I try merging the weaker colony into the stronger one, or risk just losing it completely? I’ve read plenty that says that now is completely the wrong time of year to combine colonies. Any advice?
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Too many - but not nearly enough
Uniting two mediocre poor performing colonies just gives you a larger poor performing mediocre colony.
You say one 'seems' queenless - do you know for sure.
As for it being 'completely the wrong time' to unite, never heard (or read) that little nugget.
The best time to unite two colinies is when it's needed.
First of all you need to know the reason that both the colonies are doing so poorly. When did you last treat for varroa? and what did you use?
 

Smythical 

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I used MAQs after harvesting last summer. I didn’t do an oxalic treatment in Jan, but neither did I the preceding year and the colonies were very healthy. Maybe I was just lucky. As for no queen - I can’t find one or any evidence of one. There is a poor effort of a queen cell, but it’s been sealed now for more than a week.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Too many - but not nearly enough
Mid to late December is OK, by January they'll be up and brooding again so much of the mite population will be sealed in the brood
 

Smythical 

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Duly noted. Any advice on how to assist my two colonies?
 

drex 

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I would first put a test frame in the " queen Less" colony, just to check rather than assume
 

Erichalfbee 

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Yes to the test frame. If there is little young brood and eggs in the donor hive you can either cut a small portion out and graft it into an empty... ish drawn brood comb or simply pop a whole frame in for three days then return it.
 

Smythical 

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I’ll put the test frame in tomorrow and see how it goes. Thanks for the advice.
 

Queenswood Apiary 

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Hi, I am in a similar position with one hive queenless, i have left it another week to see if any signs of eggs etc, what are you testing by placing a frame of brood in the queenless hive?

Rob, what was the outcome on your hive? I see this was back in May.

Ian
 

Erichalfbee 

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what are you testing by placing a frame of brood in

Ian
A colony that is queenless will make emergency queen cells from young larvae.
If they simply cap the brood the likelihood is that there is a queen …. Though not invariably.
 
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