As fall is fast approaching, I thought I would post a little bit about weak hives and how to strengthen them before winter arrives. One of the easiest and best methods is to do a paper combine of two beehives.

This article will discuss how to do a paper combine of two beehives, a weak bee colony into another weak one, or into a stronger one, resulting in a much stronger single bee colony going into winter.

As a weak colony will most likely NOT make it through winter. So let us define a "weak colony". I would define this as any colony who produced no more than a single super or less in brood and honey reserves above the main hive body all spring and summer. The reasons for this can be many from infestation with mites, hive beetles to poor queen genetics. In either case, something must be done to make sure that hive survives.

This is where we decide to do a paper combine of two beehives, a weak hive into a stronger one. This will accomplish two goals. first it will kill the weak queen and secondly, it will strengthen an already strong hive. To begin you will need a weak hive and a strong hive (or two weak hives).

You cannot very well go dump the bees out of one hive into another, the bees will fight to the death resulting in the loss usually of both hives. To accomplish your goals you must slowly introduce one hive's bees into another hive. This takes less than a week and the bees will join forces if you force them to acclimate to one another. To do this, follow these simple steps.

  • Identify the stronger of the two colonies.
  • Smoke and open the weaker colony and move the frames around so that you end up with a single deep hive body which contains ten frames of brood, honey, and bees. choose the ten best frames from this week hive. The best frames are the ones with the most capped brood, pollen, and honey.
  • Now open the strong hive and smoke it to drive the bees lower into the main hive body. Take a piece of newspaper and place it on top of this hives large hive body, then poke small holes into the newspaper with a small pin, or finishing nail. You don't need many holes, 10-20 will do. This just helps the odors from the large hive body and from the weak hive body you are about to place on top of this strong hive circulate and vice-versa. If the stronger colony had honey supers, make sure to smoke the bees out of them and into the lower hive body and then remove them and set aside.
  • Now take the large hive body from the weak hive from step 2. Place it on top of the newspaper you placed on top of the stronger colonies main hive body. Now all that separates the two colonies is a piece of newspaper with small holes poked in it.
  • Now add a hive top feeder to the top and place an outer lid on it.
  • Come back in 7 days and you will find that the newspaper has been chewed away and that both of the colonies have merged into a single strong colony. Remove the feeder and place a honey super back on it. Make sure when you remove the honey supers in step 3 that you store them somewhere safe from bees, ants, bugs etc. if you plan to add those, if not just place a new honey super with starter wax on the newly merged hive so they can begin to work it.