Evaluating two-colony hives for increased productivity and varroa mite control

2005 Annual Report for ONE05-034

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2005: $9,744.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Maryann Frazier
Penn State University

Evaluating two-colony hives for increased productivity and varroa mite control


On June 20, 2005, 20 two-colony hives with bees and 20, 5-frame nucleus colonies with bees were purchased from Mike Johnston and brought to Penn State University. Ten of each were placed on hive stands in the Wiley University Apiary. The bees and frames from the 10 nucs were transferred to standard hives and located together in the lower half of the apiary, the 10 two-colony hives were placed together in the upper half of the apiary. The two areas are separated by a tree line.
On June 23, 2005 Bob McMillian picked up his ten two-colony hives and ten nucleus colonies. They were transported to his home in western PA where he placed in one apiary but divided into the two groups by hive type.

Mike Johnston also set up an apiry at his home location with 10 of each of the two hive types for comparison.

Because the bees were slow to build up and the honey flows in the northeast were light in the summer and fall of 2005 our goal was to get all of these colonies built up and prepared to overwinter successfully. Going into the winter all hives had laying queens and adequate honey for overwintering.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Our objectives this spring:

1) treat all colonies with formic acid on or about March 15

2) assess and compare the overwinter survival of two hive types

3) assess brood production and add supers to all hives on or about April 15

4) take nucleus colonies (splits) from colonies that have 5 or more frames of brood (mid-April). We will use these splits to replace any colonies that have died over the winter, but only within a hive-type (two colony hive splites can replace losses only two colony hives lost). We will also use these data to compare “bee production” of the two hive types.

Summer objectives:

1) maintain all colonies

2) monitor mite levels using sugar-roll

Early fall objectives:

1) remove all honey, assess and compare honey production of the two different hive types


Our accomplishment for 2005 was to prepare the bees to successfully overwinter.


Robert McMillin

McMillin Apiaries
760 Chewton Wurtemburg Rd
Wampum, PA 16157
Office Phone: 7245354460
Craig Cella

Loganton, PA
Office Phone: 5707253682
Mike Johnson

Johnson Apaires
RD 1 Box 424
Eaton, NY 13334
Office Phone: 3155354460