15th February 2012
Below are photos of my 2x Long Hive, which is double the width of a standard 10 frame Langstroth hive so it fits 21 frames.
Ventilation holes were added to the roofs after these photos were taken. DON'T FORGET THE VENTILATION HOLES!
11th November 2012
This year I decided to try a two queen hive. One queen is Italian and the other is Carniolan.
They started of as two separate Nucs, which I merged in a long (double width) hive using a vertical queen excluder. To merge I simply placed a frame of foundation on each side of the vertical excluder, then each colony on either side, with entrances at either end (top entrances).
Bees don't mind having more than one queen, you just need to keep the queens from getting to each other.
So they were both 4 frames each at the start of Winter (May). I had seen on the forums that a hive will often dispose of one of the queens coming into spring. I believe this is due to one queen starting to lay later than the other, producing less queen pheromones. So to avoid this I replace the vertical excluder with a plywood partition. Michael Palmer style I made it into a double Nuc (also called a divided deep). Placing the brood nest of each (only 1 or 2 frames by this stage) hard up against each side of the partition. Then fed for a few weeks to make sure they had enough stores.
In early spring (August) when the plum trees were in blossom I checked and found they both had at least 3 frames of brood. The Carniolans were still on 4 frames but the Italians had drawn out a couple of frames ( I assume with the feeding), so had 6 frames.
My theory is to merge again when each side has at least 3 frames of brood. This is so that the queens are both producing enough queen pheromone. They both had this amount, so I replaced the partition with the queen excluder. Again had a frame of foundation on each side of the excluder, to allow for the merge.
The population has grown fast and I have seen both queens several times since.
Having the different breeds also seems to get the best of both breeds. Where one is lacking, the other makes up for it. For example, my Italians are very gentle but don't deal with pests very well. The Carniolan are also very gentle but do deal with pests well. The double hive is doing much better than when the Italians were on their own. So a hygienic queen and a good honey producing (breed) queen could work well.
Of course they also have a higher population with the two queens. Although I still haven't used any smoke to work on this hive. I just have a cloud of bees hanging around if I remove one of the supers, because of the top entrances.
Checked today and they have now drawn at least 24 foundationless deep frames (only two of those could have been from feeding). I have also taken out two 3 frame splits. So they have gone from 8 frames at the start of winter (May) to a total (including the splits) of around 32 frames to now (November) and its only half way through the swarm season! On that note, no signs of wanting to swarm. I have been opening the broodnest with this hive.
So having two queens, and different breeds of queens is an option.
14th November 2012
They were acting just like separate colonies for about the first month or so after the partition was removed, but gradually mixed. (There was usually more bees at the Italian entrance). The mixing has been the most noticeable after the supers were added.
I'm now seeing that both entrances have an equal number of bees nearly all day. If one entrance is too busy, bees will run over to the other entrance.
I had a look a few times today to compare the ratios at each entrance. Before going into the numbers I should mention that the Italian side has a larger brood nest. Something like 2 or 3 frames more the the Carniolan brood nest.
So the entrance on the Carniolan side ranged from 1/2 Italian and 1/2 Carniolan up to 2/3 Italian and 1/3 Carniolan.
The entrance on the Italian side ranged from 2/3 Italian and 1/3 Carniolan up to 3/4 Italian and 1/4 Carniolan.
I had a look in the brood nest on the Italian side the other day, but wasn't looking at the ratios. At a guess I would say it was more than 2/3, probably more like 3/4 Italian.
I'm thinking the ratio is always going to be more than 50:50 as you have bees from the one queen emerging on that side and possibly not going far from the frame they emerged from while they are in the nursing stage. So would expect the ratio to be more around 2/3 to 1/3, with the bias on the queen's breed if both brood nests were the same size.
23rd November 2012
Checked today and found lots of brood, of all ages! The Carniolan side's brood nest has been enlarged significantly. (I only checked the brood nests on both the sides.) The Italian brood nest is still the same size.
The Carinolan brood nest now appears to fill the bottom box and the queen has moved up into the half width super. So if the nest is still to the middle, that would be about 12 frames of brood (It was about 6 or 7 last time after taking a couple of splits). The Italian brood nest would be still about 8 frames.
A couple of random frames seem dedicated to pollen, so have up to 50% pollen. Rest of brood frames around 70% brood with mainly nectar around the edges. Saw a few queen cups (or should I say goblets) on each side of the hive but they were all empty. I removed them.
The Carinolan side has a denser population of bees and has drawn out more comb. I think a lot of these bees are nurse bees. Probably because of the larger brood nest.
Population mix still looks like the preference to queen's side is about 2/3 (at a guess). Good mix in the supers.
The main flow has just started. So we'll see what happens now!
8th December 2012
Checked the hive today. Still lots of brood! Lots of bees!
The brood nests of both sides are still right up against the queen excluder. Actually found the Carniolan queen on the frame right next to the queen excluder. Her brood nest is right up into the bottom half of the half width super. Most brood frames on this side have a band of honey across the top, about 1/4 to 1/3 on some. Some of these frames are very wide at the top where the honey is, but normal width where the brood is.
The Italian side has very tight brood, a few frames more than 90%, even 95% brood. More consistent width to the frames.
The Carniolan side seems to be drawing wax much better than the Italian side. Not sure if it's because of the brood in the half width super.
New foundationless frames in the half width supers get drawn out straight away. Foundationless frames in the 10 frame super hardly get touched. Found that it's best to get frames drawn in the half width super, then move them to the super. The entrances are via the half width supers.
In terms of comb construction, the foundationless frames on the outside of the half width super get built with the "Y" to the outside (both sides of that box. They are 4 frame boxes). The two frames in the middle can be confused, having both "Y" and inverted "Y" on the same side. This is because they usually start two or three tear drop shaped comb. One of these may be "Y" the other inverted "Y". So I have been placing new frames on the outsides of these boxes.
They are continuing to expand, most cells full, so I had to put another super on. Now have close to 36 frames drawn. Plus the 6 taken for a split. (The split has a very nice Carniolan queen, which has brood on most frames. They have also drawn out another frame and are working on a second.)