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Thread: Spring splits

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    OLD HICKORY TN USA
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    44

    Post

    I live in Middle Tennessee and this will be my third spring beekeeping. I started with packages, installed four nucs last year, and would like to do splits this year. I would like to add four more hives. Does anyone have an estimate of when would be the proper time in this area to make the splits and what I should be doing now to prepare.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I don't know what your main flow is and when it flowers. Here I'd do it between the middle of May and the end of June for maximum honey and minimum swarming. I would guess it would be a week earlier there, but it depends on what is your main bloom.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3

    Post

    Make your splits at the very first start of the dandilion bloom. When you know you will have temps over 50 during the day and you just start to see them make your splits. This way you will have full colonies in time for the main flow.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Glasgow, KY
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    94

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    I was thinking of making splits myself. Last year I had a swarm from a package and being my second season I was thinking it would help in swarm control. I only have four and three were full of bees the last time through them. If they remain strong through till spring, can you split them early as dandolin bloom? Here in southern KY it should be warm enough in mid April. Does this sound like a good idea?
    Henry

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,131

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    It depends on your goals. I like to put all the open brood and the queen in the split two weeks before the flow so there are more foragers in the original hive and no brood to care for. I get another hive and the original actually makes more honey than if I didn't do the split. Here that's the middle to the end of May to do that.

    If I try to split early enough to get the new hive built up before the flow, here, the clusters would still be too small to flourish.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6

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    Here is how I do it so you can get a honey crop out of them both. Take 3-4 frames with bees and mostly uncapped brood put in a new queen, inside the shipping cage with candy exposed to free her and place on the old hive with a feeder and pollen patty. Take the old hive and move to a new location about 100 feet away. Replace the frames and add pollen patty and add a feeder. The field force will return to the old hive location and build it up. The old hive should have 6 frames of mostly capped brood and nurse bees so they will not swarm and both will be strong enough going into the honey flow. Remember to keep the feeder on even through the dandilion and fruit bloom flow because there is a dearth of about two weeks after that till the main flow.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Blountstown, Florida
    Posts
    535

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    rainsridgefarm,

    Do you mean "place on the old hive LOCATION/STAND" in the third sentence ? If so, I think I follow what you are saying. If not, then I am lost. lol

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Lancaster, Ky. / Frostproof Fl.
    Posts
    984

    Post

    Henry
    Before we started moving bees to Florida for the winter we double queened all colonies using a double screen. The old queen was put in bottom HB with a double screen then second brood box on double screen with upper entrance. 4-5 frames young brood with old queen in bottom and 4 frames of mosely older brood in top with new queen. This was done last week of march and first 4-5 days april. Any extra brood was given to weak colonies or used to make splits. All colonies were equal. Depending on the year the last week of april and first week of May all colonies were united back togather(sometimes in good years we supered each part using excluders if warm with lots nectar especially on apple pollination where there were lots dandlion and henbit.) Old queens were killed or if colony was exceptionally strong we took a couple frames brood and old queen started new hive or kept to replace any queenless colonies during summer. This prevented swarming(less that 2% yr). and make large crops honey (we averaged 300# colony in 1982) We are in central Ky and if you live in south western Ky you can split a week earlier or a week later in north eastern Ky. To prevent swarming all splits should be made by April 15 in this area and this will also give nuc time to build up and make a crop. Rick

  9. #9

    Post

    The old colony with the old queen goes to a new location in the same beeyard. The new colony with the new queen goes to old hive stand.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Glasgow, KY
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    94

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    Rick
    Thanks. This will be my second year and I am planning on expanding and it seems package bees may be in short supply. The club I belong to has bees and queens arriving April 16th so I will have queens to add to the splits to speed things up. I hope it helps swarming too. Last year I had a package installed on April 10th swarm the last of June.I made a split but it did not work.The split raised their own queen and everything went the best. Henry

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Lancaster, Ky. / Frostproof Fl.
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    984

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    Henry
    Normally a hive newly started will not swarm..Here are the reasons that may have caused it. 1)Supercedure swarm. This happens when for some reason the bees supercede their queen and one new queen leaves with small swarm. usually seen in late summer- fall and since queens dont last like they use to it may have been the cause.
    2) lack of room. Even if you gave them a super this being your first year it was probably foundation. Bees need drawn comb in a good flow or may swarm due to lack of room to store honey. It is very difficult to pervent swarming with no drawn comb especially the first super in spring. However usually bees wont swarm the first year due to this. 3)excessive rain. This was more than likely the reason. With nothing to do but loaf around with all the rain we had swarming increased last yr. Although my swarming rate is usually about 2-5% in 1995 it was over 75%.. We had over 40 days straight with rain. As soon as the sun came out the bees did too....straight up in the trees!! Rick

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Glasgow, KY
    Posts
    94

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    Rick
    The hive I had to swarm did not act right from the beginning. Queen cells in late May from a package? A lot of them too.They were two weeks behind the other two on drawing foundation, did not forage like the others and seemed to be lazy. The other two would be bringing in pollen and nectar and they would be piled up at the entrance. I told the guys at the bee club they were planning on a swarm and and they told me what to do. Nothing worked. When they decide to go, I don't believe it can be stopped.
    Not all is lost though. The split built up just fine and the new queen started laying right away.
    Can't hardly wait to see what this year brings. Henry

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Twin Cities, MN
    Posts
    133

    Post

    I've usually had problems with my bees trying to swarm even from packeages on drawn comb. I find lots of queen cells on the bottom bars of the deep HB's. I have controlled swarming by scraping them all off. Labor intensive, but works.

    I'm not sure why this happens. I give plenty of room for the bees.
    Butterchurn<br /><br />Diplomacy is the art of saying \'Nice doggie\' until you can find a rock. <br /><br />Will Rogers

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I find a lot of times a clogged up brood nest causes the swarming impulse. Also a lack of ventilation seems to contribute.

    Room in the supers is nice, but room in the brood nest is essential to prevent swarms.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
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    1,858

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    I think most beekeepers would concur with you, Michael, and to clarify this notion one step further, it's not overcrowding that moves the bees to swarm, it's the congestion.

    Overcrowding is simply lots of bees for the space available. Congestion is a brood nest with cells needed for brood rearing competing with cells being fill with incoming nectar.

    In my opinion, it's the open cells that the colony wants for brood rearing that will quell the urge to swarm. I've had fantastic success and almost zero swarming using Walt Wright's "Checker Board" system of adding frames to the brood nest. It's a form of Demaree manipulation within the brood nest, coupled with the practice of an open brood nest (no excluders).

    And I think most of us would agree, it's more complicated than this. Even simply adding a super doesn't alleviate the swarming impulse (usually too little too late). And many years ago, in my early years, I simply presumed that if you placed a super with brand new foundation over the brood nest would be sufficient.

    Nope. A disastrous year of swarming.

    Grant
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368

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    Grant, could you point us to some more info on the "checkerboard" system? Or give us a rundown of it here on the board? Thanks!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Twin Cities, MN
    Posts
    133
    Yes, I would be interested in the checkerboard method as well. Please point us to more detailed info.
    Butterchurn<br /><br />Diplomacy is the art of saying \'Nice doggie\' until you can find a rock. <br /><br />Will Rogers

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,131

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    Since I run all the same size frames, I just pull some out of the brood chamber and put them in another box. Particularly frames full of honey. I like to put bare foundation or foundationless frames in their place. The bees seem to be happy drawing comb and the comb drawn in the middle of the brood nest is usually smaller cells.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19

    Post

    I have been reading lot on splits. I was wondering how many hives you can successfully split out of the original and still get a crop? If anyone has any experience in this, please let me know! I want to get as many hives out of my original as possible, but want to get a crop this year also. (Want my cake and to eat it too!)
    If you see me runnin' you'd better keep up!
    http://hillshivery.blogspot.com/

  20. #20

    Post

    I'm also interested in the "checkerboard" method. I would like to split my hive this spring, but also pull a frame of brood for a Nuc box. Can this be done from one hive. The Queen is so productive i'd hate to squish her when i requeen this spring (didn't do it this fall).
    <a href=\"http://www.geocities.com/beekeepersofalbemarle/http://www.tidewaterbeekeepers.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://www.geocities.com/beekeepersofalbemarle/http://www.tidewaterbeekeepers.org</a>

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