Can two packages of bees be combined?

by Janet
(SC)

Can two packages of bees be combined to get a head start on honey production? If so, how would it best be done?

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Hi Janet,

Interesting question!

You most certainly could combine two packages in one hive. The real question, though, is whether it would pay off.

Combining two packages would be quite easy. Spray the bees down with sugar syrup, just as you'd do when installing one package, and then shake the bees from both packages into the hive.

The two packages of bees would be very unlikely to fight under the circumstances. (And in fact, any given package could potentially contain bees from more than one hive.)

Unless you got the bee breeder to send you a package without a queen, you'd have an extra queen on your hands (don't install both queens!).

So except for coming up with a use for the extra queen, there really wouldn't be all that much different about installing two packages in one hive.

But would it be worth doing?

I really doubt it.

Whether you'll be able to harvest surplus honey from your hive in the first year is decided more by factors addressed in your other question than by the size of the initial colony population.

Having double the initial number of bees would certainly help some, but it wouldn't come close to doubling your chances of harvesting some honey.

The queen can only lay eggs so fast, and each egg takes about 3 weeks to become a worker bee. Those facts don't change, of course, and in the meantime, it's very unlikely that the extra bees from the second package will make the difference in storing up surplus honey.

Packages are rather expensive, too, and I feel quite certain that you wouldn't get double the value for double the cost.

If you decide to try it, though, good luck, and please please let us know how it turns out.

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