Splitting a bee hive.

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by alleyyooper, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

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    Splitting a bee hive

    There many ways to split a bee hive, maybe as many as there are bee keepers.
    Here is how we do it with a boughten queen.
    Search the top box of a double deep hive to make sure the queen isn’t there, and to make sure some brood, pollen and honey are there. Set them off to the side.
    We set a double screen board on top of the bottom hive, it also has the entrance to the top box, which faces 180 degrees to the bottom mother hive entrance.

    [​IMG]

    I then set the second deep on top of the first one. Remove one frame, spread a couple out a bit. I then install the queen cage between the two spread out frames and push them together. Then put the removed frame back in.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We then close it up for 4 days. Once the queen is released, laying a good pattern and the night temps are over 45F we remove the top box.

    [​IMG]

    We don't do to many this way any longer as we do not buy queens. We raise our own.

    :D Al
     
  2. sugarbush

    sugarbush Bees and Tree specialty

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    You should seperate the splits a day or so before introducing the new queen. Sometimes the workers will kill the new caged queen if she is put in at the same time as when you make the split..

    I have done the split in the morning and introduced the new queen in the afternoon. place the new queen split in the old location so the field bees will return to the new split and the old queen gets most of the open and closed brood and a new location.

    I have also used peices of 3/8th ply between each box to seperate the new splits from the old queen. This method is used if I want to keep the splits stacked one on top of the other. If this is the case the closed brood goes in the new splits and the old queen gets the open brood. The entrances for each split should be opposite of the one above and below.
     

  3. Ernie

    Ernie Well-Known Member

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    Ok, good advice. Thank you.

    Would it be possible just to take a thriving hive made of two boxes and separate the two boxes geographically in the beeyard? Like perhaps 100' away? Would they then develop into two colonies that could then be put closer back together at some later point in the year? I'm trying to avoid building a screen. :)
     
  4. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

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    Of course you can do it that way. Reason we do stacks is so the lower colony can help keep the top one warm since it is normally did in early spring.
    Since we raise our own queens now I go into a hive and make two 5 frame nucs and one 10 frame deep out of a double deep. I graft into cells the right age larva so the girls will build a new queen from that in the nuc boxes.
    You don't even have to move them 100 feet away as long as there is brood to cover in the box you move.

    :D Al
     
  5. Ernie

    Ernie Well-Known Member

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    Can you explain what you mean by 'brood to cover'?

    All I'm considering is taking the top box in my two deep hive off of there and setting it up a little ways away (so the bees don't drift back to the mother hive) and hoping they make their own queen. Any flaws in that plan? The grafting and making nucs you're talking about sounds like advanced beekeeping and I'm still on the 101 course. :)
     
  6. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

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    Brood sealed in the cell, young larva not sealed in yet. The nurse bees will stay with that when you move the hive.
    If you are going to let them raise their own queen make sure you get eggs and young larva that looks like a tiny milky c in the bottom of the cell.
    You also want to make sure that you have, or will have drones to mate the new queen.
    I usally wait 10 days after I see drone cells with larva in them to start a new queen, that way they hatch about the same time.
    We use the grafting so we get a queen from our best stock.

    :D Al
     
  7. Ernie

    Ernie Well-Known Member

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    I guess I need to do some more research before I try this. I'm not sure what drone or queen cells look like.
     
  8. sugarbush

    sugarbush Bees and Tree specialty

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    The queen cell is unmistakable, you will know it when you see it. Search queen cells in google images and you will find many just to give you an idea.

    The drone cells are large and when capped they are domed on the top vs the workers which are flat topped.

    If you want to split a two box hive:
    Open the hive up and split the young brood between both boxes. In order to raise a good queen the bees need really young brood. Eggs are are better as they will hatch and the bees will start rearing queens from the larva that is the right age.

    After you have the brood seperated place a piece of plywood between the the two boxes and leave them stacked. Drill a hole in the top box or shim it up with wood shims to make an entrance and put that entrance away from the bottom entrance.

    Leave for three days and check back on both boxes. The box that has started making queen cells is the one that the queen is not in. Place that box on top and put a feeder on it. (you can set another box above it to house a baggy or jar feeder and also pollen sub if no pollen is present in the comb. You now want to close off the entrance as the field bees should have left this box and returned to the lower one by now. If you had to move the bottom box to the top leave the entrance open for another day so the field bees will rejoin the box with the queen.

    The bees will raise several new queens. In about 15 days the queens will be ready to hatch and you want to open the entrance back up so she can fly and mate.

    If things don't work out just remove the plywood divider and and alow them to rejoin the old colony. Then give them a rest and try again.
     
  9. talkingamoeba

    talkingamoeba Well-Known Member

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    I just finished reading Increase Essentials by Larry Connor a found it to be exceptionally informative on this subject for those of us who have never done a split.
     
  10. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

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    Here you go with an old post on doing splits.
    Included are some pictures.

    Your pretty much stuck with doing splits when you can buy a queen from a queen breeder and get it shiped to you.
    If you raise your own your stuck till you have drones to mate with the queens you raise.

    What a split looks like in our bee yard. Picture was staged.

    [​IMG]

    This is the push in cage I make useing 1/8 inch hardwere cloth so I can interduce queens in a split. I even remove boughten queens from the shippng cage to the push in cage. You can leave them in there a bit longer to be exceped by the workers.

    [​IMG]

    :D Al
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  11. AverageJo

    AverageJo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't want to keep interrupting the girls to watch for swarm cells/queen cells or drone cells. Is there something in nature that I can key off of? Dandilions in bloom? Lilacs? Oak trees leafed out? Something else, say 3 days over 70 and nights over 50? Some help on what to be watching would be helpful. If there really isn't a key to watch for, how often should I go through the hives? This is the first year I've had lives overwinter and they look full of bees already. I'd rather do a split than have them swarm, but I also don't want to do it too early. I'll check on drone cells with eggs. That's a good thing to watch for along with swarm cells.

    Edit: With young children, it's not easy to get out to 'work the hives' that often, so any hints would be great. :D
     
  12. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

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    If you keep records you would have things in there like the first drone sightings of the year, first swarm cells seen in a hive and other good stuff.
    Problem is this year you can throw all that out the window if you live in the mid west at least. We are setting daily record high temps for the day, record number of days over 70F, record number of days over 80F. So it goes back to are you going to buy a queen? Or are you going to raise your own queen?
    With the first you need to find the breed of queen you want then find a breeder and find out how soon they will ship you a queen. Do the split as soon as the queen arrives, that is what is nice about over night delivery you know when the queen is going to arrive and can do the split the day before.

    If the latter then all you need to do is spend some time in front of the hives where you can watch the entrances for drones. Once you see drones you can do the split.
    Do not worry so about swarming. they won't raise a swarm queen till there are drones in the box several days old.

    I don't know about the young children but I started taking the grand daughter out the the hives when she was 3. Long pants, long sleeved shirts/tops and a hat with wedding veil drapped over it and fastened to the chest with a draw cord.
    She got her first sting at 4 and knows now you can't pet the bees like a dog or cat. She also has no fear of going with me to catch swarms and doing what grandpa says.

    [​IMG]


    :D Al
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
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  13. GBov

    GBov Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If we split our hive will we get any honey from the two hives in their first year?

    The girls have been bringing in pollen for weeks now and have seen drones at teh door.
     
  14. AverageJo

    AverageJo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My children are 6 and 2.5. The 6yo gets veiled up sometimes with me but the 2.5 is all boy and would rather take a stick to the hive! LOL

    As these are the first hives to overwinter, I definitely want to keep these queens' genetics and propogate their line. I guess we'll have to take hikes out there a couple of times a week and watch for drones coming and going. It's a haul as they are in the middle of our property, probably about half a mile back. Guess I'll be getting in a bit more exercise. Was sure hoping there was a connection between drone production and blooming plants or weather though. I'll be getting out the muck-o-lucks as it's going to be a rainy week. :)
     
  15. tom j

    tom j Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My children are 6 and 2.5. The 6yo gets veiled up sometimes with me but the 2.5 is all boy and would rather take a stick to the hive! LOL

    my grand kids pick drones off the frames and pet and play with them til they get away , then pick another off a frame .. they even took some drones to school ,, the teacher told them that they cant bring pets to school ...
    last year I raised a queen ,, she is head of the best hive the 4 that wintered ,, my small nuc did not make it.. now I plan to do my own queens ...
     
  16. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

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    If you get honey off a split depends on you and the bees.
    If when you do the split you have draqwn comb to give to them then yes you could get some honey.
    If getting honey is all important to you then just make a nuc instead of a full blowen split. that way you only remove up to 5 frames from the orignal conly.

    :D Al
     
  17. Dutch 106

    Dutch 106 Well-Known Member

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    Hi guys,
    One thing I don'rt seem to see stressed is that the hive should be in full blast with a good nector flow, before you split it and expect to get less honey if any out of the hives that year.
    When I was beekeeping we moved the other half of the hive to the next yard, waiting for eggs to show in one or the other before putting a new queen in the one without or doing crushdowns to encourage them to produce there own if we didn't have spares, I was getting to the point were I was raising quenns thru the busy time of the summer.
    Dutch
     
  18. GBov

    GBov Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Make a nuc?
     
  19. AverageJo

    AverageJo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm hoping to get into the hives for a good look-see on Monday, the next nice day. The dandilions are starting to bloom, so we're in the start of our honey flow season. If the bottom hive bodies are full of either pollen, honey and/or eggs/larva/capped cells, I'll probably pull 6-7 frames into a new hive body. Hopefully there are drones around, too.

    I'd like to propogate these queens as they're the first to overwinter, but then again, it was a mild winter.

    As a safety measure, I did order three packages. I'll install 2 here but the 3rd is for a neighbor that wants me to start him up with a brand new hive. I've got some questions in a new thread for y'all...

    Dutch... What is a 'crushdown'?? I've never heard that term.
     
  20. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

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    A nuc! up to 5 frames of bees, brood, larva, honey in a small box. A queen either boughten or a frame of eggs so they can make their own queen.

    You don't need a full blown flow to do a split. That is why you see a jar of syrup in the picture of a split example picture I did for the club several years ago. I want both the new colony and the original colony well on their way to full blown necter gathering colonies when the flow hits.

    You do the split as soon as you can get a queen breeder to ship you a queen or as soon as you see drones to mate with queens you raise. either way by that time you hive you intend to split should be well along in raiseing new workers so you can split the hive.

    :D Al
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012