Need advice on weak colony

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reedyfork
Forager
Posts: 81
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2019 6:09 am

Need advice on weak colony

Post by reedyfork »

So of my 3 hives here in urban Greensboro, I have one deadout, one super-strong colony, and one weak colony that seems to be barely hanging on. This was actually my strongest one last year, so not sure what has happened... They have had tons of resources, syrup on top, treated for mites the same as the other hives, etc.

I'm going to open it up this weekend, remove/reverse some boxes (currently three mediums), and check for any evidence of a queen. Question: if I don't find the queen or evidence of a queen, what do I do right now? Buy a new queen, take those bees and combine them with the other colony and start over, wait for them to make and raise a queen on their own, or something else? I've never been in this position before...
Jacobs
Guard bee
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Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:36 pm
Location: Greensboro, NC

Re: Need advice on weak colony

Post by Jacobs »

If your weak hive has a queen and some brood, consider removing the lowest box if the bees are not using it. You can put it on later if they need the space. I did that with 4 ok, but not strong hives, during this last warm spell. It is a bit early to buy queens, and I am not seeing drone activity in my hives that would make me feel comfortable about trying to get queens mated just yet. Other folks may be seeing something different regarding drones, but with the exception of Mejo's hive with swarm cells (we saw royal jelly and larvae in them), I haven't seen or heard much about drones flying.

If your weak hive is queenright, you could take a frame or two of brood and nurse bees from the stronger hive and use it to boost the weaker one. If you have younger nurse bees, they should not bee aggressive toward the queen, but I would put them in with at least 1 frame between the queen and her brood brood and the new bees. If all of the bees acting as nurse bees look to be older with little or no hair on the thorax, I would hesitate to use them to boost. Older, over winter bees acting as nurse bees may present more danger to your queen. If you see no evidence of queen or brood, consider doing a newspaper combine of those bees into your stronger hive. You can split them later when queens are available or more drones are out and about.
Wally
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Location: Randleman

Re: Need advice on weak colony

Post by Wally »

With a queen and 3 or more frames of bees, I would swap places with the two hives. The returning foragers from the strong hive will come home with groceries to the weak hive and all will be well. With less than 3 frames of bees, and/or queenless, I would combine. You can swap anytime of day or night, any temperature.

PS. Jacobs is correct. I just described a different approach.
reedyfork
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Posts: 81
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2019 6:09 am

Re: Need advice on weak colony

Post by reedyfork »

Very good! I had not even considered the simple act of switching the two hive locations. I did think it was probably too early to consider re-queening, so hopefully I'll know more by Sunday and can at least see where things stand.

At least I have my swarm traps out and one strong hive to work with...
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