Hive Splitting Question

mebeeguyDecember 6, 2007

Hi, All:

It's been a few years since I last visited, but I have a question now. I've been beekeeping for several years (about 7) and have never "split" a hive. If I incur losses, I typically just suck it up and buy a new package in the spring or leave the hive vacant all summer in hopes that a stray swarm will take up residence. At +-$70 per replacement package, I'm getting a little cheap and want to try a split next year instead.

Can anyone give me the general guidelines for performing a split from a very healthy hive into a dead/vacant hive? Will I need to also provide a new (purchased) queen, or if I transfer a frame with an "active" queen cell will the transferred bees produce a viable queen?

Do I also backfill the frames I took out of the strong hive with new frames? I'm assuming I do, but place them on the outsides of the box.

Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Tim in Maine

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Tim, You can do a split or start a nuc from a strong hive. Last year I had a strong hive that I wanted to start a nuc from. I used a five frame nuc box. I checked the hive and took three strong frames with brood in all stages, and also nectar and pollen. I left the queen in the original hive. I keep some full frames of honey in the freezer from previous dead outs. They're handy for starting nucs. I added 2 frames of honey and closed it up, then moved it to another yard so the field bees wouldn't go back to the original hive. I put three new frames of founadtion in the original hive. The next day, a put a caged queen I got from Betterbee in the nuc and let the bees release her the same as when installing a package. They both did fine.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 9:57PM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

Depending on your local population of drones, you might want to consider making your own queens. It takes a lot longer. If you have fresh eggs in the nuc, you'll be able to see if they make emergency replacement queen cells. It takes about a month altogether for a queen to hatch, mate and start laying. There is some risk, but if you have some feral clones (and you're not in an area with africanized bees) you can end up with a better genetic mix. They could be more resistant to problems, and they could be good honey producers, and they could be gentle. :-)

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 9:08PM
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As cc mentions, you can let the bees raise their own queen in the nuc or You could split a double deep hive and leave 10 frames in each box, again making sure you have new eggs brood pollen etc. You don't really have to find the queen when you split them. The queenless hive will realize it and should develop their own queen cells from eggs that are a day or two old. If you're just looking to increase your hives, that's the cheapest way to go. If you're looking for a faster start, a purchased queen, providing she's accepted, will start laying eggs shortly after she's released, since she's already mated.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 12:37AM
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