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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Durango, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    22

    Question Splitting a Top-bar hive

    Hello everyone,

    I'm sure I'm overthinking this whole issue, but I am curious to read what "splitting" method you guys use. I am new to beekeeping and I'm just planning ahead and researching as much as possible. When I took a beekeeping course, the instructor explained how he does splits and this is basically what he does when he sees advanced swarm queen cells.

    • Finds the Old Queen and moves the Brood comb where she's at and 2 other brood combs to a new hive. (all the bees on these combs are also taken to the new hive)
    • Moves 2 honey combs (and the bees on these combs) and places one on each side of the brood combs
    • Inserts empty bars at the ends


    So the new hive will look like this:
    Empty Bars, Honey, Brood, Brood with Queen, Brood, Honey, Empty Bars

    The old hive is now left to finish raising a new queen.

    I've seen online or in books where some leave the Old Queen in the Current hive and move the brood comb with the Queen cells and some honey comb to the new hive instead.

    Which method do you guys use? Or do you have your own variation or method that you feel works best?
    Last edited by luigee; 11-25-2009 at 11:08 PM.
    Listen to the Bees and they will guide you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Splitting a Top-bar hive

    Well the guy I worked for made nukes, he removed 1 honey 2 brood from a hive and added a queen cell. I would rather remove the queen cells this would hopefully disrupt the mother hive less since they would still have a laying queen. I don't know yet though, since I have yet to split my hives (new beek) I can only speculate.
    Funny story though, when I went to move my 2 langs into my new tbh I happened to open them just when the queens were all coming out, kept some frames of honey for latter emergency feeding in a covered super inside. When I checked a few days latter I found a virgin queen and a small colony inside the super in my house! Put em outside in one of my tbh, they are doing well hopefully they will make it through the winter.


    Sam.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Default Re: Splitting a Top-bar hive

    Assuming two boxes and enough bars, one method is just "deal" the combs. One for you and one for you. You can slip the ones staying forward in the established hive and take every other comb and give it to the new hive. Whichever one is queenless will raise a queen. Whichever one isn't won't need to. If you happen to see the queen, I'd give her to the new one as the drift will favor the old one.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Durango, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Splitting a Top-bar hive

    Sam and Michael,

    thanks for your responses. I appreciate the feedback.
    Listen to the Bees and they will guide you

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Splitting a Top-bar hive

    O yes I had forgotten about this, the older bees will go back to the old hive location so you end up loosing bees in your new hive, gota consider that when spliting.


    Sam.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Phoenixville, PA
    Posts
    579

    Default Re: Splitting a Top-bar hive

    Last year I split my four hives to prevent swarming. I thought by kidnapping the queen into a nuc that the host hive would scramble to raise a new queen and not swarm. My thinking was that if the honey flow was going, the emerging bees would maintain the foraging army and total numbers will be better than what's left after a swarm. Also, by interrupting the brood cycle, I'd also interrupt the mite cycle.

    Didn't work.

    Our SE PA spring was rainy and cold, all the blooms where pushed back three weeks and I had a miserable harvest.

    The flow may have then lined up with the eventual decline in the number of foragers while a new queen got established.

    I saw the small hive beetle for the first time. I read recently that the pheromones from a queenless hive attract them. I'm using the beetle barn, but as of yesterday they didn't catch any.

    All my mite counts were high in September. In one I counted more than 70 from a sugar roll. By the numbers, that's 7 out of 10 bees have a mite. I gave that hive two rounds of formic acid pads and am hopping for the best.

    One nuc was a top bar. I put the queen with a pile of bees in the box with syrup. I'm not sure if I took enough workers but they didn't take.

    One nuc was from my mean hive. The host swarmed later in the season then went weak, but rebounded and is now gentle. My buddy who took my last mean hive grabbed the nuc and I hear their doing well. He didn't get a harvest either.

    One nuc was from a weak hive. They didn't go crazy. After the TB nuc failed, I put the Lang frames into my TBH hopping they would make the transition. My top bars are much shorter than lang frames. They must have gotten confused and cross combed the little they built, then failed. May be that the queen was why the original hive was weak. I put a frame of brood and eggs into the host hive from their neighbor when I split and they rebounded and look good OK for the winter.

    The last nuc is now my nicest Lang hive. They went from three frames to 2 fully built deeps and gave me some honey. Surprise surprise.

    I caught the swarm from the mean hive. They took to the top bar nuc and now looks OK for the winter, I hope.

    Next year I'm going to split again, but I'm only taking brood frames and leaving the queen. I'm hopping reversing the deeps and leaving empty frames in the middle may help keep down swarming.

    Since the lang to lang splits went well, I'm eying my TBH for splitting next year if they survive the winter.

    If the nucs raise a queen, I may try a two queen hive. I heard some beeks got a huge crop from more bees filling the same supers.

    So what did I learn. Not much. Too many things going on at once for any did this and gave me that. Since my TBH dimensions don't align with Langs, I won't try going from from Lang frames to TBH again. After seeing the beetle, I'm too scared to intentionally let the host go queenless.

    I'm falling into the trap of doing what worked last year and shunning change due to fear. I feel that breeds "bees only move up", "screened bottom boards are the only way" and similar blanket perspectives. After five years, I understand the resistance because you need to wait for next year to try again.

    My bigger fear is that status quo will be our undoing. Less package producers mean less genetic diversity and more problems. fewer beeks with more hives mean more eggs in less baskets. Greater dependence on mass migration for pollination of our food means everybody will share all problems. Like it or not, change is here and we will fail if we don't embrace it.

    I read in Bee Culture that the term Hobby is falling out of favor since we are all beekeepers regardless of scale. I think TBH and similar smaller scale endeavors will be our salvation through random exploration of methods, genetic diversity from localized operations and more public awareness from urban hives.

    I'll try to maintain what works and expand enough to dabble only with part of the picture.

    Thanks for joining the fun and wish you the best of luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Totnes, Devon, England
    Posts
    1,019

    Default Re: Splitting a Top-bar hive

    Quote Originally Posted by luigee View Post

    I've seen online or in books where some leave the Old Queen in the Current hive and move the brood comb with the Queen cells and some honey comb to the new hive instead.

    Which method do you guys use? Or do you have your own variation or method that you feel works best?
    I do splits within the same hive from swarm cells (mostly), making use of followers.

    Because the colony is enclosed within two followers, in the middle of a 4ft long hive, there is space at one end reserved for splits. This end section has its own entrance, which is positioned on the opposite side to the main entrance holes.

    To make a split, combs can easily be lifted from the main section to the end and provided with a swarm cell, or the laying queen if required. The usual rules apply as regards stores, brood and nurse bees.

    For swarm control - if such is desired - the whole hive can be rotated through 180 degrees so the new entrance is in the same position as the old was. Flying bees will then reinforce the new colony and deplete the main one, preventing them organizing a swarm.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

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