Exchange worker bees between colonies
Exchanging workers between colonies is a great thing to learn how to do! You can boost weak colonies, help create new colonies and provide more help to colonies that need it.
This method requires knowledge and understanding of bees and for this reason its placed under the advanced section of native bee keeping.
Check out this video of Dean demonstrating this method.
Tips on Exchange workers method.
One of the most important things I will say about this method, is that the colony of bees that receives the bees must NOT be a strong colony. When the exchange of workers happens it is actually toying with the bees natural pheromone signals. That being said, it is by experience that this is learned to be conducted in the right way.
A strong colony of bees with large numbers of worker bees will 100% mount a defense against a foreign colony of bees. After all, this is a normal part of the Stingless bee’s life cycle.
For this method to work, the hive receiving the exchange of workers must be small. Less then 1000 bees in total will work well. A hive with no queen present will work even better. Colonies with only nurse and baby bees will also take to this method well.
Mixing species does not work very well and should be avoided.
Hive entrances should match the same position as the hive they have been swapped with.
The strong hive may have a few weeks down turn as they recruit more workers.
If you use this method in spring with a small amount of brood containing a queen cell you will create a new colony!! Care to monitor it in its early stages will help make sure it grows up to be nice and strong.
Awesome advice. I always wondered if the returning bees from a different hive would be adopted or massacred.
Once again the post on the blog are adding to new knowledge, and with cautions on the application. Much better to know that these techniques are available, than just watch a colony die. Congratulations Dean.
Thanks Guys, another great informative session ! It was quite remarkable to come home to this video being posted today, as I myself just yesterday did the exact same thing with two of my Hockingsi hives. Have had a struggling weak hive for a few months, and have now swapped position with a strong healthy hive. All going smooth so far ! no casualties .Thanks again.
Hey Rod! great to hear someone is already doing this. How small were your colonies to give everyone an idea of what you were working with?
Great post Dean and Nick, thanks for sharing the information!
I have a hockingsi hive from a newly established colony which needed rescuing due to it’s location. It started off very active but has now dropped down to a couple foragers returning per minute, compared to my original hive rescue (5 months old) next door which are incredibly active. I may have to give these two a switch to give them a boost while the local tree’s are still in bloom.
Thanks again, your post has come at perfect timing.
Be sure to check that the weak colony is in fact weak. Don’t want to be starting swarms for people.