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Author Topic: Switching places of hives - do returning foragers threaten the Queen?  (Read 248 times)

Offline FloridaGardener

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Big Hive with top entrance is next to tiny newly hived swarm with a typical robbing screen.
I've added brood to swarm, but they are slow to build. 

If I swap places, do the entrances have to be roughly in the same place, or else the foragers will just go to their original hive?

Returning foragers seem docile to me, but will a great many foragers arriving in one day threaten the Queen?  They are very unequal hives.  Thanks!
« Last Edit: September 18, 2019, 11:54:33 am by FloridaGardener »

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Switching places of hives - do returning foragers threaten the Queen?
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2019, 06:04:46 pm »
FloridaG: bees can be unpredictable at times.  I have seen introduced nurse bees kill a queen or at least try.  The nurse bees were balling the queen when I rescued her.

There is a chance on a small hive especially that switching locations with a big hive can backfire.

This is not an area of my experiences, switching locations that is.  I am very familiar with combining or creating nucs combining frames from different hives using MATURE queens.  Like I said earlier, bees don?t always go by the books and can be unpredictable.  So if you do switch hive locations, be sure and have a back up plan.

A better safer plan is to take a frame of capped brood, brush bees off and place in the weak hive.  A single deep has 7,000 total cell. Thus one deep fairly full can easily add 6,000 bees.
Van
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Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Switching places of hives - do returning foragers threaten the Queen?
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2019, 07:32:58 pm »
Thanks Van, I had an edgy feeling that if switched, the foragers would go to the location of their old hive, see the little one, smell their own 2 ft away, and there would be pandemonium in front of both.

I can add a frame of capped brood each week for several weeks because the Q in the big hive is chugging along like there's no autumn.

I hate to break up the action in the little colony, because the brood patches are only half-drawn, foundationless medium frames. Pretty small areas.  What you you think, should I place full frames (fully drawn edge to edge) on the edge of the little brood nest, or smack dab in the middle, like last time, for the least disturbance?

Yesterday & today it was a crazy 98-degrees, we're melting here.  Can't wait 'til nighttime temps drop below 80 (whew) and we can get things done outside.  We only want to go out in early morning.  It was 100* heat index at dusk last night.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2019, 07:45:15 pm by FloridaGardener »

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Switching places of hives - do returning foragers threaten the Queen?
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2019, 07:44:00 pm »
If ya have enough bees in the small hive to cover additional brood, then place next to existing brood frames.  If you are really short bees, then place in the middle of brood frames.  Pick the fullest brood you can find.  You probably only need one frame as that is approx, 5000-6000 bees.  Remember a full deep is 7,500 cells.

Hot, and Dry, same here, 93F, high with 70F low nighttime.  Sept. is hottest month of the year???  This Friday, cold front moves into Arkansas and temp is to be a normal 82F high.  YES!!

Blessings
Van
Bless the Beekeepers.  Dealing with venomous insects takes courage, patience, dedication and a desire to be with nature.

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Switching places of hives - do returning foragers threaten the Queen?
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2019, 07:47:41 pm »
I regularly switch hive locations as a prime boost and levelling method.  A few tips for you to be successful and be aware of.

- anytime in the season you can do it, EXCEPT in the fall when the flowers are drying up and the old miled out and ragged field bees are getting testy.  Switching under those conditions is likely to result in immense fighting or/and the small hive getting robbed out instead of joining forces.
- do it when the bees are in a good mood and there is a decent nectar flow on.  Meaning nice warm weather for 3 days minimum, young bees from recent brood emergence, lots of bees seen out in the flower patches.
- the strength ratio of the hives switched cannot be too far out.  Up to a 2 to 1 strength difference is fine, no worries.  Approaching 3 to 1 the small hive will be overrun and queen may be killed.
- if ever you do want to do the switch with a very large difference in strength, and cannot afford the risk, suggest to cage the queen in the small hive for the first 3 days to one week.

Look at the conditions going on in your area.  Look at the strength difference between the hives.  Look at the guidelines above.  Decide.


Hope that helps.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2019, 11:53:19 am by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Switching places of hives - do returning foragers threaten the Queen?
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2019, 01:18:49 pm »
I often see a queen being balled when foragers are returning to the wrong hive.  But I can't remember ever finding her dead...
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Online sawdstmakr

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Re: Switching places of hives - do returning foragers threaten the Queen?
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2019, 08:48:54 am »
I once added 2 frames of bees to 2 existing frames in my observation hive. I carefully placed a piece of paper in between them to allow them to adjust. The original bees and queen were in the bottom and new bees were in the top. It tool some time to get it set up. As soon as I installed it in the house, I saw that the bees were balling the queen. I decided to just let it play out, figuring it was too late to save the queen. That night before going to bed, I checked on her and she was walking around the hive laying eggs.
The bees were balling the queen to protect her, not kill her.
This is probably what you saw Van.
Jim Altmiller

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Switching places of hives - do returning foragers threaten the Queen?
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2019, 10:43:51 am »
Jim,  you may be right.  I will never know.  As I removed the bees that were balling the queen, the queen took off and did not return to the hive.  This was last spring after I added a handful of nurse bees to a queenright hive.  Needless to say I was surprised....  I have not had any trouble with adding nurse bees in the past.  I thought adding nurse bees was like a guarantee thing, no harm done.

Another issue in 2018.  One queen balled and stung.  When disassembling a queen castle, 2018, I missed a queen in one section.  She was balled in a matter of minutes and stung on the underside of the thorax.  Her front legs were immediately paralyzed, I caged her and placed in an incubator only to watch her later die.

2019. Another queen killed as I did a news paper combine and folded one corner of the newspaper, for chimney effect, air that is, over food comb.  Again, the bees marched right thru the open corner and killed the queen.  Both hives same size.  Go figure????

I have made many a mistake and discovered the bees don?t always do the same predictable thing.  As HP pointed out above, a dearth changes behavior.  Learned that lesson the hard way too.

Van

Van
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Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Switching places of hives - do returning foragers threaten the Queen?
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2019, 11:32:17 am »
Thanks everyone.  :shocked:  Little hive gets capped brood, no nurse bees. 

Here's something to make you smile, for all your help. I truly appreciate it.
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Online sawdstmakr

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Re: Switching places of hives - do returning foragers threaten the Queen?
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2019, 11:35:45 am »
 :happy:

Offline CoolBees

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Re: Switching places of hives - do returning foragers threaten the Queen?
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2019, 02:01:32 pm »
Oh so true.  :grin:
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln