Friday, August 14, 2015

How Two Hives Become One

Two years ago, B placed two bait hives in different trees around the property.  There they have sat since, unsuccessful at catching a swarm.  I talked about our honey tree here, and it has been a very active hive with an enormous number of bees.  Low and behold, as we were surveying the place a week or so ago, B discovered that one of the bait hives was full of bees!  We are certain that the abundant honey tree hive, must have recently swarmed, and they did not travel too far.  Now comes the dilemma, they have built a fair amount of comb already, but there simply is not enough time for them to make a home to sustain themselves through the winter.  So on the advise of a bee keeping friend of ours, we decided to introduce this box to our other large hive and see if we could get them to assimilate.

When working with bees, B has found it is best to have all of your ducks in a row supplies wise before you don the very warm bee suit on a hot humid day.  Fortunately, last Sunday was a perfect morning for the move.  It was foggy and a bit cooler, so there was not much in the way of activity around the hives early in the day.  First, he smoked both hives to encourage the bees to ascend into the upper portions of their respective hives.  

Then, he detached the bait hive from it's foundation in the tree, put a bottom platform on it, and blocked the exit door so they could not all fly out while being moved.  The idea when combining both hives is that when we add the new hive to the bottom of the existing one, top it with a large piece of newspaper like paper with some slits cut in it.  Over the next several days the bees will eat through the paper and be released into the existing hive, hopefully giving them time to recognize each others scents and adjust.  Then what will come is the queens deciding who will reign.   

The bottom box on the main hive was empty, but the bees were just beginning to beard into it preparing to fill it, so the timing was perfect to remove the empty box and add the new hive with the partially completed box.  The whole process took about 30 minutes, and now we wait to see if it is successful.  After about 48 hours, we were advised to open the exit door on the bottom hive, and when B did there was a huge flurry of activity.  It will be interesting to see if they assimilate.

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