One of my favorite beekeeping blogs is Honey Bee Suite. The author, Rusty, writes how-tos, issues in beekeeping, scientific tidbits, and unusual methods. It’s one of the unusual methods that caught my attention last fall when she wrote about setting up a double-queen hive. After a little more reading, I decided to give it a try with two of my smaller hives.
Moving a Hive
First I needed to move a hive across the property, and I followed Honey Bee Suite’s suggestion on moving a hive since moving a hive more than three feet and less than three miles is often unsuccessful. This method worked very well.
Early this spring, I closed up the hive overnight with a moving screen. The following morning I recruited my husband to help me move it.
It stayed closed for 72 hours, the idea being that after that amount of time the foragers will reorient themselves to the new location when the entrance is opened again. And it worked. I opened the hive and placed a leafy branch in front of the hive. In a short time I observed foragers returning with pollen. Only about 100 older foragers were stubborn and returned to the old location.
I placed the hive close to another hive, hoping the workers were drift between the two hives and become a little more familiar with their neighbor’s scent. After a couple of weeks, it was time for the big merge.
Double Queen Setup
I removed the covers from both hives and moved them to a new stand I’d made earlier in the week. The hives were pushed up snug next to one another, creating a double-wide hive.
I placed a queen excluder over the center, straddling the two hives. This allows the workers to move through, but prevents the queens from coming in contact with one another.
Last, a super was placed over the excluder.
The theory is the combined work force allows the two hives to create more honey than they would be able to accomplish individually. I decided on a deep brood chamber and medium hive body for this experiment.
That was a lot of activity and disruption for these two hives, primarily because moving them to the stand required taking the top boxes off so I could lift and move the bottom. I’ll leave them alone for at least a week and then see if both hives are working together amicably. Since the comb in the super is all drawn, I expect to need another super very soon.