Combining two colonies
 

Beekeepers that have just started, avoid combining weak colonies because that way they will have less hives. However, this is usually the best solution because a weak colony may take up a lot of time and resources and it isn't of any use. Futhermore, with two colonies combined you can get more honey than when those two colonies are separated.

 

A weak colony is always combined with a strong or medium strong colony, you never combine two weak colonies.

 

If two weak colonies are combined, the result will also be a weak colony because it will lack the strong organization of the worker bees (and usually a good queen).

 

If the weak colony is combined with a strong one, the bees from the weak colony will quickly get used to the good organization of the strong colony and thus strengthen it even more.

 

Both bee colonies you are combining must be healthy. 

 

You can’t just put those two colonies together. Honey bees know exactly which bees and the queen are from their own hive and which are not so a fight with many dead bees may occure and the queen will most likely be killed.

 

 

Removing the weak queen
 

Because there can be only one queen in the new combined colony, you need to remove the weak queen by pinching her. 

 

 

Combining with newspaper method 

 

The easiest and the least risky way to combine colonies is with newspaper method because it takes some time for the colonies to mix, 3-4 days.

 

Newspaper method of combining bee colonies is done like this: the weak colony is left without a queen and its brood box is put on the brood box of the stronger hive, but in a way that they are separated with one layer of newspaper. The upper weak hive is left without its own exit, so the bees will chew through the paper and gradually equalize the scents and mix up. It takes a few days for the bees to completelly mix and combine.

 

 

Combining with newspaper – steps

 

Required beekeeping equipment and supplies when combining with newspaper method:

- Beekeeping suite

- Beekeeping gloves

- Beekeeping brush

- Beekeeping smoker

- Hive tool

- News paper

- Inner cover for covering the cleaned boxes

 

 

Combining with newspaper method – step by step:

 

☀️ First day:

1Remove the queen from the weak colony (if it is not already queenless).

1Open the hive with the weak colony.

2Find the queen in the honey super and pinch her.

Detailed steps in finding the queen – How to find a queen.

 

2If the hive has honey supers or other unneccessary boxes, shake out all the bees from them. And so reduce the size of the beehive to the only one brood box.

1Using the hive tool, remove all of the boxes (if there are some) except the box with brood and queen. 

2For every of those removed boxes, take out one by one frame and shake it over the opened brood box that has left and then lean it against the back side of the hive.

3Shake out the rest of the bees from the empty box.

4Put the frames without the bees back in the box. If there are still bees on them remove them with a brush.

5Cover the box with the inner cover so the bees don't get inside again. 

6Repeat with all other boxes. 

 

3Close the hive.

 

You should temporarely put away honey supers and the other unneccessary boxes from which you removed the bees in a room to which bees don't have an access or put them on another hive.

 

 

☀️ The next day:

1Open the hive with the good colony.

2If there are honey supers - shake out all the bees from them the same way you did with the weak colony - step    2.

3If the hive has two brood boxes and the majority of bees are in the lower box - rotate the boxes so the upper box has more bees.

4Put a sheet of newspaper over the upper brood box. 

 

5Put the box with the weak colony without the queen over the newspaper (which you have put on the first hive). The layer of the newspaper should create a barrier between those two boxes so the bees can't go from one box to the other.

The box with weak colony must not have its own entrance.

There is no need to open that hive – simply separate it from the bottom board and move it onto the stronger hive. You can take off the outer cover but leave the feeder and the inner cover so the bees don't start to fly around too much.

 

6Close the hive. If there were honey supers on the stronger hive – put those honey supers free of bees in a spare room or on another hive or over the box with weak colony.

 

 

☀️ In a few days (3-4 days):

1Remove what is left of the newspaper – the bees will chew through the newspaper and equalize the scents, so the rest of the paper should be removed.

2Rearrange the frames:

After combining two colonies, all of the boxes with brood, honey and pollen should be rearraged so that there is a natural order in the hive. Excess boxes and empty frames should be removed so that the new colony doesn't have that much of unused space that needs to be protected from the wax moths and other pests.

The whole brood should be in the middle of the brood boxes.

Put the frames with pollen around the brood and then the frames with honey.

Excess frames and boxes need to be removed so that the colony is left with only two brood boxes. Good frames should be placed in other hives (if they are needed) and old black frames should be put away for melting.

If the honey super was temporarely moved from the hive, now is the time to put it back.