Combining Hives – Beekeeping How-To

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Last week I discovered one of our honeybee hives had lost its queen, we had a drone laying worker in the hive. A laying worker is a worker bee who, after the queen of the hive dies for some reason, starts to lay eggs in the hive. The eggs of a worker bee are unfertilized, so they are all drones. Learn about a drone laying worker hive in this GF Post.

Newspaper placed over top super of strong hive

There are few remedies for a laying worker hive. One is to combine the hive with a stronger queenright hive. This laying worker hive was very weak, and its population low, so we decided to combine the hive with a stronger one next to it.

To combine two beehives, first you want to get as many of the bees in the weak hive into one super. I did this by smoking the bees down into the lower brood super. The remaining few honeybees in the upper supers I brushed into the bottom super.

Super from weak hive is placed over newspaper

Then open the top of the strong hive you are going to combine the weak hive with. Place a sheet of newspaper across the top super of the strong hive, and cut a few slits in the paper with a knife or hive tool.

Place the super of bees from the weak hive on top of this newspaper, put a notched inner cover on top of the weak super and then the outer cover of the hive, and leave it alone for a week. Be sure the super being added has the upper entrance a notched inner cover provides.

Combined Hive. Strapping is part of our bear defense plan

The newspaper allows the new worker bees to get acclimated to the strong hive’s queen scent, and allow the strong hive to slowly accept the new worker bees. The bees will slowly open up the newspaper sheet, and in the process, accept the new worker bees. After a week you can remove any remaining newspaper.

Let us know any suggestions or comments below. How do you combine hives?

Remains of weak hive on left, strong hive on right

 

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Comments

  1. says

    what is a notched inner cover ? I have to combine a weak queenless hive to the strong hive tomorrow. I am not familiar with this notched inner cover.
    Thanks
    Shar

  2. Eric Gunnar Rochow says

    i always use notched inner covers, they provide an upper entrance and ventilation for the hive, which i think is very important. thx, eric.

  3. Julia Erickson says

    Yes…I am about to combine two hives using the newspaper technique. However, what to do with the honey super which is now on top of the strong hive? No one seems to address that!

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