Uniting Bees by Shaking
An old and simple method
There are many ways of uniting bees, the most common is probably
the "newspaper method", that is in all the books.
This method of shaking is quick, simple and I have never had a failure.
Shaking bees disorientates and confuses them and is probably why it is so successful. It can be carried out at any
time of the day, but I wouldn't try it in a nectar dearth, especially for an inexperienced beekeeper, as I think many
similar manipulations, such as queen introduction, may be less
likely to succeed at such times.
Having taken the usual precaution of checking for disease and inspecting the colonies to be united, so you know
what you have, do the following:-
- Bring the colonies close together as in the newspaper method. If you have more than two colonies then put them in
a line all facing the same direction with a small gap between. If the colonies originally faced different directions,
then gradually rotate them at each step towards their destination. If they are some distance apart so it will take several days to put them
together, move them both, so they are adjacent in half the time, then move the resulting colony after
- Put a sloping board in front of the brood box you want to keep. The longer the board, the better.
- Move the other hive(s) back slightly.
- Smoke all colonies and remove crown boards.
- Remove the queen(s) you don't want, or have another use for.
- Shake a frame of bees onto the bottom of the board. This could be the frame with the queen on.
- Drop the queen on top of the shaken bees if not done in previous step.
- Shake bees from all colonies on top of the queen in turn.
- Place the combs that have been shaken in the brood box, arranged as if it is one colony, i.e. brood
in the middle, food on the outside.
- Put crown board on colony and close down.
- Remove all other hive parts to avoid confusing the bees.
The good thing about this method is it can be performed quickly and on the same day.