I am trying to get some current real-world feedback on whether people are using the system which is taught in beekeeping classes at the University of Minnesota. This method was developed by Dr. Frugala, and is curretnly taught by Marla Spivak at U of MN.
In summary, this method involves keeping one colony which is prouducing honey and another which is being built into a healthy colony for overwintering. It goes like this . . .
The first year, a package is installed and the colony is built to fill three full-size boxes using regular reversals. Little or no honey is removed from this colony (especially if it is working with foundation and not drawn comb). This colony is wintered.
The next spring, about six weeks before the main flow, the overwintered colony is split. The parent keeps the old queen (one year old at this point) and gets two honey supers at divide time. This is the colony which will produce honey, 4-8 medium supers worth. This colony is NOT overwintered. One of the objections many people have with this method is the need to kill this colony at the end of the season
The other colony gets a new queen and a second brood box. It is built to a 3-box colony in exactly the same way as the package was handled during the first season, and this colony is overwintered and split in the Spring, continuing the series.
The installation of a new queen in the split means that there's always a young queen in the colony. The split consists mostly of young bees (the foragers are allowed to return to the parent after the split and before the new queen is introduced) thus improving queen acceptance.
I have seen a limited amount of recent feedback on this system. Some people feel that it works well for them. Others are upset at the need to kill bees. The rationale behind this step is (1) if you didn't do it, you would double your number of colonies each yeear and (2) it provides an opportunity to inspect, clean, and swap out equipment from the depopulated colony.
By the way, the name of this system comes from the era when people were developing systems which used two queens separated by a queen excluder in what appeared to be a single colony. Dr. Frugala considered his parent and split as a single colony for purposes of computing honey yield. His rationale was that if other folks could run two queens in a "vertical" two-queen system, he could do the same in a "horizontal" one and still consider it as one colony.
I'd be very interested in hearing from people who are actually using this system. Posting your experience in the forum would be great, but if you don't want to do that, drop me an email.
[This message has been edited by BeeBear (edited March 27, 2004).]
I basically sounds like a variation of a "cut down split". Why kill the bees? Why not just combine them in the fall?
There are several variation of a "cut down split" and this is the first one I've heard that involves killing any bees.
>> Why kill the bees? Why not just combine them in the fall?
Playing devil's advocate here . . .
Turning it around . . . why combine them? If the procedure works, you've got a nice healthy 3-deep colony ready for Winter which doesn't need any additional bees. Combining would remove the opportunity to do maintenance on the equipment which otherwise would be taken out of service. I'm also thinking that the mite load in the older colony would be higher, thus introducing additional mites into the colony before Winter.
Would it be feasible to requeen the parent colony and build it up after the honey harvest? Then there would be two colonies going into Winter. This is an advantage only if you want to double your number of colonies each year.
The other thing about this method which is unusual is wintering 3-deeps instead of 2-deeps. Seems to me that there's lots of evidence that 2-deep colonies winter just fine in the MN climate, so it almost appears that there's nothing in that bottom deep which improves wintering.
I'd sell the hive before I'd kill the bees. It makes no sense to kill a thriving hive. After all, don't we all want thriving hives going into winter. I'd sell the bees, keep the supers and frames and make a few bucks.
About the only time I've purposly "killed bees" was feeding larvae to my chickens when I had more bees than I could handle in town and less chicken feed than I wanted. I didn't want to annoy the neigbors with swarms and I didn't want more hives. I still didn't kill the adult bees.
I've always considered myself on the bees' side.
I still fail to see a down side to just combining. I don't see why you think one part of the split will have more mites? Besides, I can handle mites. On small cell I don't really worry too much about them, but if I did, there's always oxalic acid and FGMO. I think they will come into spring stronger from the combine. But I guess there is always the practice of raising package bees and stealing the whole crop and killing the bees. I actually found a web site talking about a man raising "organic" honey by doing this and his reasoning was you have to use chemicals to keep them alive, so he just kills them.
This is just killing HALF the bees.