The western honey bee colony in my observation beehive built quite a bit of burr (cross-/brace-) comb attached to both the face of the brood comb and the glass/plastic of the beehive since there was quite a bit of space between the face of the comb and the glass, so I decided I should remove the comb (attached only to a top bar–not a full frame) and put it into a nucleus hive box (smaller than a full sized hive box) to make a nucleus colony out of it. I felt that if I did not do it pretty soon that it might become impossible to remove it later because of all the brace comb being built.
When I put the comb of bees into the observation hive in the first place, there was no queen. They raised 4 queen cells, had a queen successfully emerge, and apparently she also successfully mated and returned to the hive since she laid a large amount of eggs that became worker brood (capped now and starting to emerge as adults). That means that it became a full-fledged colony with a mated queen and it was starting to grow.
Since I had made this decision to convert it to a nucleus colony that could possibly grow into a full size colony although it had started from only one frame, I decided to start the process last night and complete it this morning. I was invited to a party last night here on campus, so that worked out ideally since I needed to “wait until dark” (good movie, starring Audrey Hepburn as a blind lady) for all the bees to come home before closing the hive entrance. I did that and removed the plastic tube connection through the window after it got dark.
Here is how I configured the nucleus hive: I first put in an empty frame with foundation on one side of the box. I next took the top bar and comb with bees out of the observation hive and put it next to the empty frame. I tried to make sure I did not “roll the queen” and kill her against the side of the observation hive, but I did not see the queen. I assumed that she was on the comb when I put it in. I next took a frame of emerging brood with nurse bees on it from each of the other two hives of bees and put them next to the first comb of bees (with “bee space” in between each frame/comb). That means that I had three frames/combs of bees and brood from three different hives (and progeny from 3 different queens) all together in the same hive box. You might wonder if the bees would fight and the bees from the different hives might ball the queen of the observation hive and kill her. That does not usually happen because the bees of her own hive will protect her from the bees that were introduced from the “foreign hives”. I will be checking in a few days to a week to see if the queen is still there and everything is going well.
Nurse bees normally have not flown outside the hive yet or become foragers, and they adjust to being mixed like that much easier and all become part of the same group, picking up the new queen’s pheromones and being “happy”. I left the new hive box nearby in the bee yard so older bees could fly back to their original colonies if they wanted to. This will become the new home to the younger bees who have never left their hive before. I had not done this particular manipulation before, but since I learned that it can be done this way, I decided to try it and see how it works out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. This will make my “book learning” become practical experience. I plan to relocate this nucleus hive to the roof of my building this evening after it becomes dark. And the experiment goes on…..