We are located in central Illinois and boy has it been hot and humid. We've received 5.40 inches of rain for the month of August. The average for our area is 3.5 inches. The extra rain has not only given way for more mosquitoes but some pretty hot and humid days. In late afternoon our bees are hanging all over the top and bottom of the hive trying to remain cool.
We have a few queens still for sale this week. Call us today after 10am 217-427-2678.
In today's blog, I want to encourage you to consider combining a very small and weak colony with a stronger colony before winter. Late summer and early fall is a great time to combine hives that are just too small to make it through a cold, windy, long winter.
Can you feed a small colony and help them survive the winter? Maybe, but it just depends on how small they are. I encourage beekeepers to feed all their hives in late summer and fall. Feeding bees protein and sugar can make a huge difference in winter survival.
Dangers Of Combining
If a weak colony just never took off this year there is a reason. That reason could be that the queen didn't lay well enough. But, it could also mean that your hive has a contagious disease. If you combine a sick hive with a healthy hive guess what's likely to take place. They both become infected. So you have to know alittle bit about beekeeping and why that weak hive is weak before you combine it with your prize winning, best honey producing hive ever!
My best suggestion is to be sure you do not visually see evidence of American foulbrood or European foulbrood. Then, what might really be hard to know is nosema, a microsporidian. Send some samples of your bees to the Beltsville, Maryland bee lab and they will sample for nosema for you. If all looks good, combining a weak colony with a strong one is a good idea.
Benefits Of Combining
You can always make a spring split if the combined hive overwinters well. And before you combine you will have to do something with that extra queen. Maybe you need her in a strong hive that lost their queen. Or you might sell her to a beekeeper needing a queen. Sometimes the extra bees from the weak hive, combined with a strong hive, can give the strong hive more leverage for overwintering provided that the strong colony does not have a high viral load from varroa mites. Watch our video below on how to combine hives.
Watch Our Newest Video Showing Two Ways To Catch A Swarm
Make sure capturing the swarm does not put you in danger of falling out of trees or off of ladders. Trying to gather $100 worth of bees is not worth a broken leg or worse. Be smart.
Be aware that swarms can leave again after you have given them the perfect home on your property. This is especially true if you captured them within 3 miles of your home. The scout bees probably already had another place in mind. They are still close enough to fly to it.
If only we knew if it was going to be harsh or bad. Don't take a chance again! This time, be ready. Give your bees a chance. http://www.honeybeesonline.com/feeders/
& Fall Feeder