COMBINING HIVES TO SURVIVE WINTER
A weak hive is less likely to survive than a strong colony. This is even truer in winter months. It’s virtually impossible for a weak hive to maintain hive temperatures in colder weather, not to mention surviving weeks of confinement and resource issues.
Rule of thumb: If you have three frames of bees or less, join them with another hive. Doing so increases their chance of survival greatly.
Can I combine hives in the middle of winter?
Absolutely! Actually, you could save their lives by doing so! Obviously, if you are knee deep in snow, you’ll likely not be able to, but most areas will have days that warm into the mid-to upper 40s and 50s, allowing you to combine (quickly).
What if I have a queen in the weak hive?
You have a couple of options. You can go ahead and combine the two hives and let the bees work it out, but this could be dangerous if the weaker hive’s queen isn’t a viable queen and she wins the battle. In this case simply do away with that queen. Or even better, there’s bound to be someone you know in the beekeeping community who is having to overwinter queenless because they couldn’t get one this time of year. You’ll make their day by giving them this queen!
Check out the videos on the next page on how to combine hives. Although filmed in late fall, combining hives is the same process regardless of the season.