i have one hive that made it thru the winter. it seems to be very strong at this time. if i want to split this hive should i reverse it first? when should i split? if i do a walk away split how far should i take it?
>if i want to split this hive should i reverse it first?
Is the bottom box empty? If so, I would reverse it.
>when should i split?
When it's at least two full deeps or three full mediums of bees I'd say it's a good time to split. But also, it depends on if you want to buy a queen or raise one. If you let them raise one you need drones flying before you split.
>if i do a walk away split how far should i take it?
If you face both resultant hives toward the old location, you can leave them at the old location. Wait a couple of weeks and then swap places if the populations seem too uneven.
If you want a smaller split instead of an even split, then find the queen in the old one so you don't shake her into the new one and shake a lot of nurse bees into the new split. Also put a lot of capped brood (preferably emerging brood) in the small split and they will renew the population as the field bees drift back to the old hive. Put the queen back in the old hive.
If you have the facilities to put the new split 2 miles away or more, you can do that and the field bees can't really go back to the old hive, but I usually don't have an easy way to do that so I don't.
I think MB hit upon a good technique that alot of beekeepers don't know about or never tried. That being the swapping of hives. I have always done my splits on-site and never moved them miles away. Swapping the hives and allowing the field bees to bulk up the numbers for the new split is very easy. I like to do it about 2 hours before dark, when bees are still going out, but the time for fighting or confusion is limited by the time left in the day. By the next morning all is back to normal and the outcomes are always great.
You can actually swap hives, instead of frames, for equaling out hive strength. This may keep robbing under control, and help bolster a lagging hive going into fall.