Author Topic: Splitting before springtime  (Read 195 times)

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Offline TheFuzz

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Splitting before springtime
« on: August 26, 2020, 03:36:32 am »
Here in Australia, spring time is coming very soon, the weather is starting to become warm for it. I have been out of town during the last two months, and have only recently gotten home to do beekeeping.

I am aware that honeybees are prone to swarming during spring. A number of my hives are quite full of honey currently and I expect at least a few will want to swarm.

I checked my hives, and I expected that I'd be able to find queen cells, or some sign that the bees are going to swarm. However I haven't been able to find any obvious sign. In some of the hives, I have noticed that there's a lot of drone cells, alongside being quite a bit higher number of drones in general. Is this a sign that the hives are planning on swarming?

I'm unsure what I should do to prevent the hives from swarming. I'm under the impression that, if the bees want to swarm, they're going to do so, so the best thing I can do is create a split.

Should I be splitting the hives that are quite full, with lots of drone and drone cells, because they're likely to swarm? I presume if they're going to swarm, the hives will already have extra queens in it, so will I need to find a queen in the hive, and put it in with the split, or will it be fine to split a hive and leave them with extra queens?

When splitting a hive, how many frames of brood and eggs(with nurse bees covering it), will I need to provide the new split with? How many frames of honey would I need to provide the split with, and how much pollen do they need?

Offline iddee

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Re: Splitting before springtime
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2020, 07:21:07 am »
Six months from now will be here as it is there now.Feb. for us. March and April are our swarm months here at the35th parallel, so you should have close to a month e=to go if you are about equal from the Equator.  I would be sure the bees have adequate empty comb in both the brood chamber and the honey supers. That is the best swarm prevention. Then check weekly and add space as needed and split if queen cells are found.  YES, remove the queen and about 3 or 4 frames of brood and food with her. That makes them believe they have swarmed and don't need to again, MOST times. Swarming is their way of multiplying, so all can't be prevented, but a large number of them can be.
“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
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Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Splitting before springtime
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2020, 09:18:29 am »
For us, in Kansas, we also reverse the brood boxes.  I typically do this in March when the weather is warm enough to not kill brood.  When inspecting check to see if all the brood is in the top box.  If you find all the brood in the top you can simply put the box of brood on the bottom and the empty box on top.  This will give the queen extra room to lay eggs and the colony won't feel as though they are crowded.  If the brood is spread out between the two boxes, I just leave them as they are and monitor closely.  You don't want to split up your brood at this point. This would be a good time to do a little clean up,  clear debris off of the bottom board, remove burr comb, etc.   
On my stronger colonies, I will put a queen excluder and a super on in April, about the time the fruit trees begin blooming.  For us, it's a little early for supering but it gives them a little more room.

Offline TheFuzz

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Re: Splitting before springtime
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2020, 11:56:25 pm »
From my observations from previous years, the bees seem to start swarming about a week or two into September.

I'm under the impression that, since I'm so close to when the bees will start to swarm, that if they're going to swarm, they will already have started such preparations?

So to clarify, IF I find queen cells, I should then find a queen in the hive, and then put that queen in a new box to create a split, alongside 3-4 frames of brood and food?

Do the queen cells tend to be created in a particular part of the hive? Do I need to inspect every section of the hive to find queen cells, or do they tend to mostly show up in the brood chamber? I'm not using a queen excluder if that matters at all.

@Bakersdozen

What do you mean by reverse the brood boxes?

That's an interesting approach Bakersdozen, I was thinking of trying to rearrange some frames, maybe even doing a honey extraction, to give the bees more space.

Offline iddee

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Re: Splitting before springtime
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2020, 04:46:23 am »
""So to clarify, IF I find queen cells, I should then find a queen in the hive, and then put that queen in a new box to create a split, alongside 3-4 frames of brood and food?""  Correct

The swarm cells are normally along the bottom of the frames in the second box up.

Bees are Bees, tho, and they may put them ANYWHERE, so you have to check all areas.
“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
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Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Splitting before springtime
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2020, 10:02:55 am »
The Fuzz: https://www.dummies.com/home-garden/hobby-farming/beekeeping/how-to-reverse-beehive-b  Here is a brief written description of how to reverse brood boxes.  The key element it doesn't mention is brood location.  While you are going through the colony looking for queen cells on every frame, take note of where the brood is located.  Is it all in the top box? or is there brood in both boxes?  If there is brood in both boxes you may be able to shuffle some frames around, keeping all the brood together so the nurse bees can keep it warm.  You will want all the brood in the bottom box and an empty box on top so the queen can move up.  Don't do this when temperatures are cool enough to chill the brood.   If you are entering swarm season, it's probably warm enough.

Here is another good, short read on springtime management. http://www.lancasterbeekeepers.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/springtime.pdf

I don't know if you have access to this book but I recommend it a lot to beginners.  The Beekeeper's Handbook by Diane Sammataro and Alphonse Avitable.  This book has a picture on determining the brood nest location.

I hope this helps you.