Today (May 31, 2016), was one of my first novice beekeeper tests. “Hive 16-04” has had a rough go. It was a small swarm collected in a rain/snow storm, in the late afternoon. After collecting it, I rushed home to hive them but they weren’t placed until after dark. The next 3 days were filled with blizzards and below freezing nights. When I finally inspected the hive, about half of the bees were dead. I removed the carnage and decided to let things play out on their own.
Surprisingly, the queen quickly began laying and doing her best to increase the population. I fed them 1:1 sugar syrup, but their low numbers and new foundation proved to be a struggle. They are making progress, but slowly. Hive 16-04 has 2 frames built to about 25% each.
Our recent hive inspection (only two days ago) found that the young Hive 5 is filled and preparing to swarm. 8 frames are filled nearly 100% and several queen cells are present (I are waiting for our new deep box to place on the hive).
This is when I had an Aha moment! We can reduce the chance for swarm from Hive 5, and help Hive 16-04 at the same time. How? By Hive 5’s generous donation of a filled brood frame to Hive 16-04, of course!
I eagerly donned the suit and lit the smoker. I opened Hive 16-04 and made room for the new frame. Hive 5 required some inspection to pick a frame. Due to brace comb and queen cells, only one frame from Hive 5 was eligible for trade. It had one queen cell, which I decided to remove.
The general rule of thumb is that you should visually confirm the queen is present in the donor hive before swapping frames. Although I did not see her, there were many new eggs present. I did not see her on the frame we selected, and took that as good enough.
I picked up our chosen frame and gave it a solid smack on the inside of the deep box, dropping nearly all the bees inside the hive. Another small shake was necessary to clear off all but a few remaining bees. I once again verified that the queen was not present on our frame, and quickly placed it in Hive 16-04. I closed up Hive 16-04, and then reassembled Hive 5.
Both sides of the frame that was moved from Hive 5 to Hive 16-04. This frame had the most capped brood.
I only performed the swap a few hours ago, but with another quick peek it looked like things were going well. There were a number of bees on the new brood frame. If all goes to plan, Hive 16-04 should increase nearly 3x! For now, we wait.
Update 6/1/16: Since we were all geared up to add a box to Hive 5, we decided to take a quick look inside Hive 16-04. The brood frame was covered in bees, and the one queen cell had been dismantled. Looks like things are off to a good start!