Author Topic: Splitting a Hive  (Read 5019 times)

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Offline 40 Acre Bees

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Splitting a Hive
« on: January 09, 2014, 07:36:51 pm »
We are tossing around the idea of splitting our strong hive (if they make it through this winter).  In a nut shell can some one explain the in's and out's of  doing this.  Our biggest concern is that we want to keep the split in the same area that we already have our hives, and will the bees produce a new queen or do we have to buy a new queen when we make the split.  Just looking for some information from the experts.  Thanks in advance.

Offline Crofter

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2014, 07:55:59 pm »
That is an interesting topic but I dont think you will get it all in a nutshell. ;)  There are many different ways of splitting for different reasons and different timing. Putting in a mated queen in one of the splits will speed things up in that hive. Leaving both parts of the splits in the same yard will have some implications. If you do the split a little later it can act as swarm prevention by splitting off a small split and allowing the larger to make its own queen. I think riverbee referred to that as a soft split with a brood break.

The most frustrating part can be finding the queen as I found last year when splitting with replacement queens for the splits. This should be a good thread!
Frank

Offline Perry

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2014, 08:02:23 pm »
40 acres, is that all the snow you folks have on the South Shore?  :o Shame on you, come to the valley and I'll send you home with some more!  :laugh:
Crofter's advice is good. You can do a walk-away split, and allow the queenless half to raise their own (remembering of course that this part of the split will not have any new bees being born for at least 3 weeks) . Or, you can purchase a good local queen and be off to the races.
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Offline Moots

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2014, 08:12:25 pm »
We are tossing around the idea of splitting our strong hive (if they make it through this winter).  In a nut shell can some one explain the in's and out's of  doing this.  Our biggest concern is that we want to keep the split in the same area that we already have our hives, and will the bees produce a new queen or do we have to buy a new queen when we make the split.  Just looking for some information from the experts.  Thanks in advance.

I'm a first year Beek, and no real experience with this....But if I was attempting what you're describing, this is how I'd approach it and why...

I'd do a walk away split.  What's the current configuration of the hive?  I single deep, double deeps, 3 mediums, 4 mediums etc. etc???

The theory is the same regardless, Let's say 'A" is your existing hive that you will split into 'B" and "C".  You want "A" to  go away, with all of it's Bees and resources split evenly between "B" and 'C", making sure you have young eggs in both "B" and "C".  You can do this on a frame by frame basis for best results, although some will just split boxes, assuming that each will contain what it needs.
Setup "B" just to the left of "A's" current location and "C" just to the right....Take "A" away when you are done.  Either "B" or "C" will have the existing queen, and the other will make a new queen.  (This is one of the beauties of this method, no need to locate the queen).

The foragers will leave "B" and "C" the next day and return to where "A" was located....nothing will be there and they figure that out and either migrate to "B" or "C"...roughly 50% each way. 

That's kind of it in a nut shell.  :)

Offline 40 Acre Bees

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 08:16:12 pm »
Perry if you can't tell from the picture, those hives are on stands 18 inches off the ground......  Yup we have enough snow here ourselves, we don't need any of yours.

Offline rcannon

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2014, 08:37:13 pm »
I run all double deeps for brood chambers. My favorite way to split, assuming a strong hive:
Pull 4 frames of brood, 6 frames of honey/bee bread. Replace these with drawn comb.
Place an excluder on top of the hive. Place an empty box on top of the excluder.
Shake all the bees of the frames you pulled out in front of the hive.
Put the frames in the empty box, above the excluder. Put the brood in the center, food on the outside positions.
Replace the cover and go away for a few hours.
The nurse bees will come up thru the excluder to cover the brood. The queen will be in the bottom box(es).
You now have enough frames and bees to make a single or 2 nucs. Add queens to the nucs or let them raise their own, if some of the brood is young enough.
This method saves the time of looking for the queen, which sometimes takes a while in a strong hive. It also provides plenty of nurse bees for the brood, and they will more readily accept a new queen.

Offline LazyBkpr

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2014, 08:57:21 pm »

I'm a first real Beek, and no real experience with this....But if I was attempting what you're describing, this is how I'd approach it and why...

I'd do a walk away split.  What's the current configuration of the hive?  I single deep, double deeps, 3 mediums, 4 mediums etc. etc???

The theory is the same regardless, Let's say 'A" is your existing hive that you will split into 'B" and "C".  You want "A" to  go away, with all of it's Bees and resources split evenly between "B" and 'C", making sure you have young eggs in both "B" and "C".  You can do this on a frame by frame basis for best results, although some will just split boxes, assuming that each will contain what it needs.
Setup "B" just to the left of "A's" current location and "C" just to the right....Take "A" away when you are done.  Either "B" or "C" will have the existing queen, and the other will make a new queen.  (This is one of the beauties of this method, no need to locate the queen).

The foragers will leave "B" and "C" the next day and return to where "A" was located....nothing will be there and they figure that out and either migrate to "B" or "C"...roughly 50% each way. 

That's kind of it in a nut shell.  :)
[/quote]

   pretty good description.. in my limited experience the foragers will return to the queen right hive, so after a couple of days switching places with those two hives will help the queenless hive out.
   I pretty much do the same thing, only I usually buy queens to do it with. DO the split in the afternoon, put the queen cage in the next morning and let them get used to her before doing the candy release two or three days later. Its usually pretty obvious by the next morning which hive is queen-less by the dissatisfied roar.
   
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Offline Crofter

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2014, 09:12:13 pm »
If you are splitting for increase you may want to keep both hives fairly even to prevent possible robbing by the stronger. If you want honey from one I think you might want to take only a small split from it. The hives I split last year giving both halfs a new queen did not produce any surplus but that was a bad year.
Frank

Offline Marbees

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2014, 09:44:10 pm »
If you are going to keep all the splits in the same yard, wait a week with sugar syrup feeding.
New splits, usually weaker need that time to "appoint" guardian bees.
Without guardian bees weaker hives can be destroyed very fast by robber bees.
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Offline Jen

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2014, 02:06:55 am »
Dang! This is scary for us first time splitters. confusing too.
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Offline tecumseh

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2014, 07:28:40 am »
a snip..
This is scary for us first time splitters. confusing too.

tecumseh...
well there is really nothing confusing about this but applying the theory to the real world is of course something else altogether.

I would also suggest that relying on advice or an approach from someone with little or no experience is a strategy which is bound to fail.

with a properly situated top entrance you can do an even split and simply situated the entrance of the two in opposite direction and create few problems.

for the newer beekeeper I would NEVER recommend they split and simply rely on the split to rear their own queen.  at some level of loss this will work in some places in some year.... which does directly suggest in a lot of places you should expect your failure rate to be extremely high.  for the first year beekeeper buying and installing queens is much more predicable and is a great way to also add genetic diversity and does have another side effect in that you can witness directly any differences in the different races or kinds of honeybees.

Offline apisbees

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2014, 12:06:34 pm »
Good reply Tec. Beekeepers with limited resources need to relies on drones from neighboring hives of feral colonies for mating. A mated queen will start producing bees  as soon as released and the hive will grow expediently from the time it is split. A walk away or raise your own will if kept in the same yard will have no bees of foraging age for the first 14 days. The queen will not be back in the hive laying for close to a month 28 Days. the last of the brood will have emerged a week previously of the queen starting to lay and a most of the bees past their prime larva feeding age.
Bees have a short time to build up and store up for the winter dearth and loosing a month worth of time in the middle during the best buildup and nectar gathering time defeats the purpose of keeping bees. IMHO
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Offline Jen

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2014, 01:57:42 pm »
Soooo, the queen won't mate with the drones from her own hive?
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Offline riverbee

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2014, 06:36:24 pm »
jen, i would follow tecumseh's advice on the walkaway split.  like tec i would not recommend to newer keeps this method. some good advice by tecumseh and apis both on this. when you have a few more years in beeking and want to try it out, then by all means give it a whirl for the learning curve. i rarely do walkaways, because of the failure rate....hope this helps!
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Offline 40 Acre Bees

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2014, 07:49:38 am »
Now I'm unsure whether or not I want to attempt a split..  I agree with jaybird this can be very confusing.  It would seem much easier to buy another nuc and be on our way......  So much information  and so many different ideas.  This is one of the reasons I find all of this so interesting.

Offline Moots

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2014, 08:07:20 am »
Now I'm unsure whether or not I want to attempt a split..  I agree with jaybird this can be very confusing.  It would seem much easier to buy another nuc and be on our way......  So much information  and so many different ideas.  This is one of the reasons I find all of this so interesting.

40,
In the interest of more options and keeping it interesting...Here's another option for you.

Instead of buying a Nuc, simple buy a queen.  Take your existing hive and remove most if not all of the existing brood and replace it with drawn comb, if available...if not, you could try foundation.  Shake every bee from that hive into that bottom box/boxes.  Then place a queen excluder on top, put a empty box on top of that and fill with all the brood you removed originally, drawn comb, etc....Cover it and leave it Several hours or a day.

Plenty of the nurse/house bees will move up past the queen excluder to cover the brood in the above box.  Remove that box, place on a bottom board and introduce your purchased queen.  Since the majority of the bees that moved up are house bees, they have limited or no time outside the hive, so shouldn't be oriented to the old location.  However, if you find the numbers going down in the coming days and it appears a lot of bees have returned to the original hive, simple swap there locations to build up the numbers.


Offline tecumseh

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2014, 08:09:30 am »
there is really nothing terrible difficult at least mentally in creating splits.  the largest difficulty for the new beekeeper is locating the queen < this problem you can greatly reduce by also doing one or two simple things done or planned for way ahead of the splitting process itself.

at some point I would HIGHLY encourage you to give this a try since it can be so useful in a number of ways.  quite obviously the first is generating replacement for you existing hive and secondly some of the best strategies in swarm control involve splitting and thirdly splitting may well also act to reduce varroa population.

ps... it seems Moot posted at least one option to making splitting easier in the above post.  since I am a one man band here this is generally my approach (actually how I do this is much much more simple in terms of steps in the process) to making up large number of nucs in the spring time.  normally the time span between doing this manipulation and making up the nuc directly may be several days and not hours.

Offline Crofter

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2014, 08:58:21 am »
Now I'm unsure whether or not I want to attempt a split..  I agree with jaybird this can be very confusing.  It would seem much easier to buy another nuc and be on our way......  So much information  and so many different ideas.  This is one of the reasons I find all of this so interesting.

Get another nuc!  If you have to take some brood off the overwintered hive to prevent swarming you can strengthen the nuc with extra frames. You should get honey off both hives then. If you split the one hive you have you may not have much surplus off either half. That depends on the season and your local weather.

I think getting the extra nuc just gives you many more options and insurance if something goes wrong with splitting.
Frank

Offline LazyBkpr

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2014, 10:30:26 am »

  Unless you are actively managing hive population, you'll want to split, if you dont the bees will eventually do it themselves.

   Remember beekeeping!!!    It is like reading beekeeping for dummies. The book gives you simple, easy to understand BASIC information that works!!   THEN you listen to other beekeepers and find out there are actually half a million ways to do things.  Splitting is the same.

   Some claim the easiest split is a walk away split, and indeed, it can be! But it can also leave you without a queen if anything goes wrong.
   It is my opinion that the easiest split is an even split with a new queen.   Having a queen in both boxes means you dont have to worry as much about eggs and new larvae.  To me, this split is even easier than hiving a package.  Evenly split a hive into two new boxes.  Face the entrances toward the old hives location. Do this in the afternoon. IF, you didnt spot the queen, go out the following morning and listen to the hives. One will be louder. Look at the hives. One will be obviously upset, the other will be much calmer. Put your new queen cage into the louder, more upset hive and close it up. If you found the queen the day before you already knoiw which is queenless, so can put the cage into that hive.  Come back in two or three days and remove the candy cork. Check back in a week to make sure the queen was released. At this time if the hives do not appear to be equally distributed swap places.

   In moving a hive only a few feet, or changing the orientation (direction) I put a robber screen on, and usually a board in front of the entrance about a foot away to change the view and make the bees slow down and realize something has changed. I havent had any problems  with re orienting when i do this, and it saves me from having to take that hive two or three miles away.

   EVERYTHING in beekeeping is controversial. Nothing you ever do will be "perfect" in the eyes of all beekeepers.  Find a SIMPLE method you can make work, and use it. Then progress from there. Read everything, watch everything, and then change everything to what works for YOU. Even what i have posted here.
    Iddee, Perry, Robo, Don (the fat bee man), Crofter, Ef, Jack, and so many others each have worked out methods they LIKE and use successfully, and those methods arent the same! But that does not make any of them wrong.
    Make it simple to start! The simpler it is the easier it is to figure out what went wrong, IF and WHEN something does go wrong.
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Offline Jen

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Re: Splitting a Hive
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2014, 01:17:29 pm »
"I'm unsure whether or not I want to attempt a split..  I agree with jaybird this can be very confusing.  It would seem much easier to buy another nuc and be on our way......  So much information  and so many different ideas.  This is one of the reasons I find all of this so interesting."

40- I hear ya, but I know I have to split, so I just keep reading and rereading this thread. THEN! if I'm still not getting it, I say "Oh Great Wizards of Beekeeping.... I'm not getting it! I ever soo humbly ask for more explaination"

And By Golly they always go the extra mile for me/us newbee's. And when it starts to sink in, I print what made it make sense to me. Goes into my BEES file and now I'll have it forever.

Oh! and by the way, it really helps when you've been down with bronchiti's for a month and don't feel like doing anything else but sit and chat with these fine people who are so helpful. Except my butt is sure getting tired of sitting around. Need some warm days 8)
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