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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Seattle, Washington State
    Posts
    4,398

    Post

    Hello all.

    I am babysitting a hive for a lady in my area and there are a few things that I would like advise on.

    The hive is doing really good. I fed them 17 days ago and they took a whole bucket of 1:1 which of course, motivated the queen to lay. She is laying really nice with a lot of eggs, larvea, and capped broop present. When I visited the hive, they had a ton of bees so I put on a super. Anyway, these bees are REALLY mean too. Even with a lot of smoke they were nasty.

    Sooo... I would like to make a split in hopes that it will prevent swarming. We are having crazy weather here and I think that it might be a bad and early year for swarming.

    I have queens ordered but will not be here until may. I could split the hive and let them make there own queen. However, if I split in say... the middly of march, than the new queen might be laying around the end of april. Than I would just replace her with the new queen.

    Or I could wait until the new queen comes, split the hive and interduce the new queen. The only risk is that they might swarm. Maybe... maybe not.

    I am leaning toward waiting until the queens come but I would like to hear other opinions too.

    Thanks
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Post

    If they are nasty I would wait. Have you added new frames to the brood nest?

    Or you could split them off, let a new queen be raised and kill that one off when the "gentle" queens arrive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,361

    Post

    I'd be thinking in terms of TWO queens. You definitely want to get rid of the old old.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Seattle, Washington State
    Posts
    4,398

    Post

    I have two queens coming but what I am not sure of michael is if I should split now, let them raise thewre own queen and than replace or not do anything until the new queens arrive.

    any opinions?
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Mosquero, NM
    Posts
    47

    Post

    You didn't say what set-up the colony is in. One deep? Two deeps? That matters. Also, what kind of pollen/nectar was available to them when you opened them and found them "mean". If they had no external source coming in, they would naturally be defensive of their home. Also, what kind of day was it when you opened them? Cloudy or windy days will always make bees more defensive and irritable. If you examine them on a nice day with good ambient temperature and the bees working a good pollen/nectar source, and you still find them "mean", you should definitely do a whole-broodnest examination to determine whether there is something wrong within the broodnest. Check for new eggs, find the queen and watch her a while, look for queen cells. If you find any queen cells, you can decide whether to start a new split with two or three of them in it or whether to destroy them to prevent swarming.

    It also matters what the total colony strength is when considering splits. If the brood nest currently occupies 10 or less frames, don't split. Just give them plenty of space to increase into, destroy any queen cells and let them go. If you truly do have a strain of "mean" bees, re-queen with a gentler strain. But remember, even the gentlest of bees can be irritable on certain days or under certain conditions. Don't unnecessarily destroy queens or queen cells if they're just riled because of some other environmental factor. Good luck.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Mosquero, NM
    Posts
    47

    Post

    Further thoughts: Where exactly are you in "Washington State"? If you're near the coast or at lower elevations, you should perhaps have a good spring going now. If you're in one of the higher elevation locations in Washington, it might be a little too early to think of splitting a colony. May seems a bit late to get new queens for any splitting. Remember the old beekeeping maxim: "A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon; a swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly!" I believe this saying originated in the Midwest, where things are pretty well warmed up by April and the best honeyflows come in May and June. Here at 5500' elevation in northern NM, April is the ideal month for introducing nucs or packages and making splits. It really depends on what bloom you have going at the time of making increase.

    I never declare a colony "mean" until they have been overly defensive toward me three different visits in a row at one-week or longer intervals and I have examined and eliminated any other possible reason for their "meanness". You're better off with an established line of bees which have proven their ability to thrive and over-winter in that particular area than with getting a new strain of bees from another geographic area, despite the breeder's claims about gentleness, productivity, etc.

    With more of the information which I have mentioned in these two messages, I could perhaps give you better advice. One must know and be aware of many different factors when managing colonies to further and assist the honeybees to maximize their natural increase and productivity. A beekeeper must be a geologist, a weatherman, a botanist, an entomologist, a carpenter/cabinetmaker, a mechanic, a food processor and marketing specialist and many other things......which is the reason for another old beekeeping maxim: "Anyone who can make $10,000 keeping bees can make $20,000 doing anything else." Ya gotta love beekeing for its own sake, primarily, and, with hard work and some good luck, you may be able to make a decent living at it. For just keeping a few hives for observations and learning and some honey for yourself and friends, one must only master the fundamentals of the cycles of plant blooms in your particular area and try to manage the colonies in accordance with those natural cycles. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,361

    Post

    I would agree with Star G on meaness. Any hive can have a bad day. I look for signs of skunks or other predators and give them another chance on a nicer day. But, if they are still mean, I don't put up with mean bees.

    As far as WHEN to split, I guess I'd tend to do that when the queens are available, unless you don't want to buy queens at all and just let them raise their own. I wouldn't let them raise their own, and then turn around and kill that queen and introduce a different one. This isn't the time of year where you can afford a 28 day loss of brood without something to show for it.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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