To Spilt or Not to Split..... that is the question...
what and when....
If you firstly go back a few posts you'll see my post "Spring is on my mind" make sure you have read this first....
So your ready for another hive, as an avid beekeeper you know that you can make one hive into two.... so when is the right time to do this and why?
Firstly the thoughts you would be having as a beekeeper with your hives...
The main thought should be...
- My hive is into its second season my queen is getting close or just had her 2nd birthday and im ready for another hive. I have everything I need in equipment - a base, brood box, a new hive and extra frames ready to go...
or the thought
- my queen is older, I've inspected and seen swarm cells... and I need to mitigate my hive from swarming.
The thoughts that are no no's - I had a great first season last year and even though my queen is only 1 or nearly 1 year old I want two hives for more honey!
- my flow hive is full, or the two langstroth boxes I got are full of bees so I need to stop them from swarming.
So..... splitting a hive comes with risks and does weaken good strong colonies! If your reasoning is the No no's above then don't do it you'll just have two possible dead hives on your hands down the track. Give them room and let them pack heaps of honey for you! Flow hives need more than two boxes, All hives eventually need more than two boxes, I have seen some colonies 7boxes high and the queen has it full of bees! The quickest way to make your good queen swarm is to not give her room for all her kids 😉
there many different methods to spilt hives but I'm only going to focus on 2-
1- A walk away split - essentially having one out or the two hives raise their own queen.
2- Spilt with introduced mated queen- as it suggests...
The walk away spilt - from a strong colony you essentially split part of it creating a nuc size colony that's ready to go into a new 8-10frame hive, so 3frames of larva and capped brood 2 frames of honey and pollen and all the bees that are in these frames - and then The old queen! very important!
The old queen- why you ask? This will effectively artificially swarm her. The extra room in the new box will hopefully encourage her to stay another season or two.
Every frame you move is to keep all the bees on it when you transfer them and the new hive is to go into the old hives location as it will capture the remaining foraging bees and continue to feed that hive.
The remaining strong hive move into a new position or turn around next to the other hive, it now will contain the remainder of slot of bees and honey and hopefully 4 frames or more of EGGS and larva - eggs very important.
The bees will realise it's queenless with hours and go about making a new set of queens from the EGGs remaining.
7 days after you do this split you must check for queen cells - if none - recombine straight away. If say 10 queen cells and 3 are capped on day 7 remove them as they are inferior queens not having a full dose of Royal jelly. Any really short queen cells also remove - leave the remainder.
Important to not touch the hive until after about day 22 from split.
This will be a check for new queen. If no queen recombine using newpaper method (another subject)
20 days after this check for new capped brood. (Day 40-42)
All up this type of split take this hive almost 40days before you see new bees being born and around 60days before they start foraging.
So split 2- introducing a queen
Do exactly the same as split 1 (walk away) however you will have purchased a mated queen from a queen breeder the day before. After removing the old queen into the new hive, place the caged queen into the old hive (ask queen Breeder how to do this if unsure) this can be done that day as you have the hive open or within the next couple of hours. Ensure After 2 days to check the hive and the cage ensuring she has been released from the cage. In 7-10 days check for eggs and larva - if found the queen is in the hive and the hive is productive now, the bees have taken to the new queen.
There's virtually no down time in brood production and far less chance of complete hive failure. If they don't take to the queen and kill her then check for queen cells. Again another queen can be introduced or allow them to raise their own.
The below pics are from a local customers hive, that is a great indication of strong hive. This queen has 8-9frames of brood and is extremely productive and this is her 2nd season, but only just over a year old. The second Flow frame box is absolutely full of bees so another full size super was out on.
The customer already has around 30kg of honey in the flow frames and this year will be able to enjoy a bounty of honey from this hive, so no need to split!
Next year this will have to be a consideration due to the age of the queen.
Hope this helps and happy beekeeper everyone!
Remember if you need my assistance to book me online or send me a message.
The Backyard Beekeeper