Equalization of Bee Colonies
The aim to strengthen weak and strong colonies of bees in the apiary is termed as equalization of bee colonies. This is done by providing the weak colony with some added bees from a strong colony or by giving them extra brood. Weak colonies are weak because of having less number of foraging bees, slow to build up, produce little honey even if they have sufficient amount of nectar flow and they cannot develop into strong colony if left alone. Thus, it is important to strengthen the weak bees to speed up their growth.
Strength of Colony
The population of a bee colony can be as low as 10,000 or as high as 60,000 depending on the season. Mid-summer and spring season are considered to be the peak breeding seasons. In peak seasons, the colony with 10-15 frames protected with bees and at least six combs with brood is considered as a strong colony. They will have forager bees flying to and fro with honey and pollen stores. Wherein the colony with 5-7 frames protected with bees and 3-4 broods is considered to be a weak colony. The value of colonies depends on the amount of honey produced by them. One colony of 75,000 bees produce 1½ times as much honey as five colonies with 15,000 bees each.
Advantages of Equalization
· It will make all colonies produce more amount of honey
· It will lessen the threat of robbery in an apiary
· It is an effective technique of avoiding swarming by reducing crowding in more populous hives
· It motivates weak colonies and will not upset the backing colonies since strong colonies improve rapidly
Disadvantages of Equalization
· This process can spread disease and lice between colonies in the apiary
A preventive step needs to be taken to check the colonies with sick bees before equalizing. We have to make sure not to allocate brood combs and bees from sickly colonies.
Methods of Equalization
Equalizing is mainly done when there is a requirement in the weak colonies or, in the spring through the buildup period or three to six weeks in advance of the blooming period (nectar flow). Only the strong colonies with large bees’ population and a large amount of brood will be considered for equalization. The weak colony with a failing queen is not considered for the process.
There are many different methods to strengthen the weaken colonies which are mentioned below:
1. Moving frames of sealed brood to a weak from a strong colony
From a strong colony, frames with sealed brood with obeying bees are given to weak colonies. Frames removed from a strong colony will be replaced with drawn combs. Make sure to give one frame at a time to the weak colony. Depending on how weak the colony is the number of frames of brood is given. Always keep a check on how well the colony is developing.
2. Quivering frames of young bees taken into the weak hive from the populous colony
This process can be conducted 2-3 weeks before the honey flows. Young bees from the largest population are shaken off. It helps in increasing the adult bee population. Ensure not to move or shift the queen bee while taking out extra bees.
3. Exchanging position of weak colonies with that of strong ones
In this process, the weak colony is moved to the place engaged by strong hive and a strong hive is shifted to the position of a weak colony.