Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pre-Winter Combinations

The honey year is over and it's time to get ready for Winter.  First on my list of things to do is make sure the colonies going into Winter have the strength to get through Winter.  By that I mean population.  Time to move the weak colonies in with the dependable colonies.

As it was
At most this year we had nine colonies; four double-deeps, two double-deep nucs, two single-deep nucs, and one wild log.
  1. Mary - double-deep, twenty full frames & good population, strong
  2. Myrina - double-deep, twenty full frames & good population, strong
  3. Heléna - double-deep, ten full frames & fair population, slow
  4. Melissa - double-deep, nine full frames & fair population, slow
  5. Nuc#1 - double-deep nuc, ten full frames & OK population, slow
  6. Nuc#2 - double-deep nuc, ten full frames & good population, productive
  7. Nuc#4 - single-deep nuc, five full frames & fair population, unproductive
  8. Nuc#5 - single-deep nuc, 5 full frames & good population, productive
  9. The wild log's bees are gone or going

It was decided to combine the colonies in a way that maximizes the amount of genetics in the yard.  So queens from my yard will be pinched in favor of queens from somewhere else for these combinations.

  •  Melissa came from the neighbors yard with a history of comb & honey production.  We combined her with Nuc#1 who is from Mary and kept Melissa's Queen.
  • Heléna was from Georgia but requeened herself and is now a local girl.  She was combined with Nuc#2 from Myrina.  Nuc#2 was a powerful colony I should have hived first thing in Spring.  A lost opportunity but i know better now.  Anyway her bees should easily rocket Heléna's bees through Winter.  Heléna's queen was kept. (The Queen from Nuc#2 went to my neighbor who had to requeen a weak hive.  Yay!)
  • Nuc#5 was a wild swarm from the next county.  They might be ferals and seem to have enough want-to.  Very calm bees too.  They were combined with Nuc#4, a swarm from Myrina.  The growth in Nuc#4 stalled early and remained unimpressive.  Here Nuc#5's Queen was kept.  These two Nucs together still only make up a large Nuc; ten frames.  I put them together with a third nuc box.  If they utilize it then great.  If not, no loss.  Either way these bees need to get through Winter as a Nuc.

This means we go into Winter with four Double-Deep hives and One Nuc.  All of them are filled with good bee populations and plenty of potential.

The Combination went as follows:
Nuc#1 into Melissa - 8/15/11
Nuc#4 into Nuc#5 - 8/17/11
Nuc#2 into Heléna - 8/19/11

Melissa Combined & Nuc#1's box left for the homeless field bees
All combinations were 'News paper combinations'.  The introduced colonies went on top of the resident colonies.  I will check them each next week.  It appears that all went well.  Only Melissa had a pile of dead bees outside of her front door but it was very small.  I may have cut too big of a slit into her paper (4 inches) when i did her.  The others only had slits of one inch put in their paper.

Nuc#5 combined with the extra box
Since no one moved more than twelve feet many field bees were displaced.  In each case we left a single frameless box at the original location of the lost hives.  These boxes stayed for a few days.  Long enough for the bees to drift to whichever hive of their choosing.

Moving Nuc#2's frames into a ten frame box
Heléna Combined
Queen of Nuc#2 on her way to the Neighbors Yard
By odd coincidence the white hives were merged with the white hives and the yellow hives were merged with the yellow hives.

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