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Thread: Walk away split

  1. #1
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    Default Walk away split

    As I understand it the best queens are raised on fresh comb, ample stores, good drone populations and lots of nurse bees. From reading the general impression i get is that walk away split queens are on average lower quality.

    My question is for the small time hobby guys raising 1-10 queens/year does that have to be true? Instead of grafting or cutting comb techniques couldn't you provide all the same circumstances (perhaps not the drones if you only have a couple hives) in a split. Make sure they have lots of pollen and honey, are on a flow, pack the split with lots of young bees and make sure that the frame with the 1-2 day old larvae are on a frame of fresh comb.


    Would this get you good quality queens without the extra work of the other techniques? Of course I realize this wouldn't be anywhere as efficient as other ways, but if you are raising a couple of queens efficiency really doesn't matter to much.

    Thanks
    Dan
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Why would they be poor quality??? Bees have been making "their own" queens for quite a while now. IMO a healthy split provided plenty of bees, and stores will make just as good a queen on their own as popping a cell in there from either your own grafting or purchase from somewhere else. I know may people who do walk away splits and we have done some ourselves I see no difference in quality. We purchase breeder queens and have some of our own stock which we graft for our re-queening, and splits, but if I were just doing a few I would not hesitate to do a walk away split, and have in the past. Just make sure they have all the essentials and a frame with some eggs....the bees will handle it from there.
    A government large enough to provide everything you need is strong enough to take everything you have. T. Jefferson

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    I would use a nice swarm cell it will be one of the best raised

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Scratch a piece out of the comb, right down to the foundation but leave the foundation. Do it so there's eggs or just hatched larvae in the row of cells straight above the bit you scratched.

    The bees will normally build cells from that row because they have room to build the cells straight down & provided it's a strong motivated colony with food on hand, they will be good cells.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Second to the swarm cells. Just take the queen you want to make new queens from, put her in a nuc, feed them til they make swarm cells. You can cut the cells out, or just use the frames as they are to start new nucs. You could get a dozen queen cells a pop. Less work, good quality queens.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    many beekeepers think they know more than the bees. we have produced hundreds of good nucs in south carolina with walk away splits. you need a good honey and pollen flow. it may not be the best way, but it is the least expensive. remember the bees know what they are doing.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Quote Originally Posted by WiredForStereo View Post
    Second to the swarm cells. Just take the queen you want to make new queens from, put her in a nuc, feed them til they make swarm cells. You can cut the cells out, or just use the frames as they are to start new nucs. You could get a dozen queen cells a pop. Less work, good quality queens.
    I have read about the swarm cell technique. One thing i am unclear on. How do you stop them from swarming after you harvest the swarm cells you want?

    Thanks Dan
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    The simplest way is to just dismantle the nuc and start a slew of new nucs with it. There won't be a hive left to swarm. Removing the swarm cells, and several frames of brood, and/or shaking off a bunch of the nurse bees to start new nucs will simulate a swarm. Of course you'll need frames of brood and bees from other hives to round them out.

    It's kind of the same concept as splitting to simulate swarming, you're just separating out the queen cells so you can get more queens out of the deal.

    Even if it does swarm, if you're attentive, you should still be able to catch them before all the swarm cells hatch, and cut out the cells. In that case, you'd leave a cell for the nuc of origin.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Thank you all for the responses.

    Dan
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    You are on the right track. Make sure they are well fed and they can be very good queens. Crowding any bees is a great start. Cutting out queen cells and distributing them is a way to maximize the output with the same resources. One hive will make quite a few queen cells.

    The underlying concept of queen rearing is to get the most number of queens from the least resources from the genetics chosen for the traits you want. In most queen rearing scenarios we are attempting to make the least number of bees queenless for the least amount of time and resulting in the most number of quality laying queens when we are done.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Quote Originally Posted by RiodeLobo View Post
    From reading the general impression i get is that walk away split queens are on average lower quality.
    Walk away splits can produce poor quality queens but they don't have to. The bees know they must produce an emergency queen when they realize they are queenless. They may start feeding royal jelly to too old of larva as well as freshly hatched larva. If this happens you get a poor quality queen.

    Here is how you remedy that. On the 4th day after the split, examine the nuc and see if you have any queen cells that are capped. If you do, you will end up with a poor queen. The larva was too old when the bees started the "royal" treatment. Queen cells are capped on the 9th day after the egg is layed.

    Look and see if there are also uncapped queen cells. Usually you will find them. Destroy the capped cells. Leave no more than 2 or 3 uncapped cells. This allows the nurse bees to do a better job finishing off those queen cells.

    This will give you the best queen possible from the genetics she is coming from.

    CES

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    You have gotten some excellent advice. I have experimented with some splits. One thing that has worked really well for me is I take the origianl queen and a few frames of bees and move them to a nuc. Then I let the origianl production hive make itself a new queen. What I have found is that the full size hive can requeen itself with a quality queen becuase they have plenty of resources. If I split early enough in the year the nuc will still build up enough to make honey also. I make sure I see drones flying before I make the splits.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Did that last year, from those two hives I got more honey than any of the other ones. However, the hive at the original location did not survive the winter. Instead of a five frame nuc, I put the five frames and queen in a 10 frame deep. Built up to six deeps from mostly foundation, harvested most of three (I don't harvest from the bottom three.)

    I won't be splitting them again, that queen makes for a pretty mean hive (even if they produce well.) I don't think I will requeen them either, I guess I'm greedy and thick skinned.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    I have a 'super hive' that is a real survivor of all the ills that have come to my bee yard. It produces an enormous quantity of bees each spring, doesn't have mites and no beetles, despite a complete beetle invasion of my bee yard last season after I bought several Russian packages from Georgia. I have produced quite a few nucs from it and currently have three nucs (all survived the winter) which I produced from that hive last year. Those nucs are at another location so the beetles didn't destroy them last season.

    Walk away splits don't always work but they do work often enough. The success rate for me seems to be higher if you feed them as much as they will take early and for as long as they will take it, especially during the hottest part of the summer. The presence of an abundance of available food seems to really stimulate population growth which is critical going into the fall and winter months. Too many beekeepers wait until the fall to feed splits and by then its too late.

    Early last summer I attended a lecture given by a master beekeeper who produces and sells packaged bees. He said, it's impossible for a non-commercial operation to produce viable queens. He said that if the average bee keeper produces queens they will be of poor quality and the hives will quickly fail. He added that a bee keeper MUST replace all his/her queens each year to maintain healthy colonies. Then at the end of the lecture he added, I'll have plenty of queens this year for anyone who is interested. So the real lesson from this lecture was, be careful of the ulterior motives of those who give you advice.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Quote Originally Posted by Truchaos View Post
    So the real lesson from this lecture was, be careful of the ulterior motives of those who give you advice.
    Amen, I attended a beginning beekeepers class and asked about timing for walk away splits and got the same answer "don't try that!!! You need to buy your queens, Go see "so and so" after the class." I was disappointed. I don't know why they did not answer the question and add their pitch at the end. They did that several times, redirected the question but did not answer the question.

    The question was asked "how do you keep them from swarming?" I had a hive that I split all the way down to a 6 frame nuc and they still built swarm cells. I ended up taking that queen over to a friend’s house and let them finish on their mission; but this time to requeen. Sometimes you just can't turn them away from swarming. Maybe if I had cut them down to 4 or 2 frames they would have quit building cells.

    That’s why I love this site so much,
    RKR
    Last edited by rkr; 03-02-2011 at 06:28 PM.
    4 seasons 19 Hives-Camp Branch Bee Ranch. Est 2009
    "I am a nobody; nobody is perfect, and therefore I am perfect."

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Quote Originally Posted by Truchaos View Post
    So the real lesson from this lecture was, be careful of the ulterior motives of those who give you advice.
    Glad you picked up on that.

    If you have more than a couple hives, I recommend inducing a swarm. Reduce the open space in the hive, then feed. When they make queen cells, cut them out and make nucs. Or don't cut them and just separate the frames into nucs. Swarm cells tend to be more reliable than walk away splits because there is not an emergency condition.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Funny how people come to opposite conclusions.

    Here are my conclusions (from my site):

    "Why rear your own queens?

    "Cost. A typical queen costs the beekeeper about $20 counting shipping and may cost considerably more.

    "Time. In an emergency you order a queen and it takes several days to make arrangements and get the queen. Often you need a queen yesterday. If you have some in mating nucs, on hand, then you already have a queen.

    "Availability. Often when you need a queen there are none available from suppliers. Again, if you have one on hand availability is not a problem.

    "AHB. Southern raised queens are more and more from Africanized Honey Bee areas. In order to keep AHB out of the North we should stop importing queens from those areas.

    "Acclimatized bees. It's unreasonable to expect bees bred in the deep South to winter well in the far North. Local feral stock is acclimatized to our local climate. Even breeding from commercial stock, you can breed from the ones that winter well here.

    "Mite and disease resistance. Tracheal mite resistance is an easy trait to breed for. Just don't treat and you'll get resistant bees. Hygienic behavior, which is helpful to avoid AFB (American Foulbrood) and other brood diseases as well as Varroa mite problems, is also easy to breed for by testing for hygienic behavior in our breeder queens. And yet hardly any queen breeders are breeding for these traits. The genetics of our queens if far too important to be left to people who don't have a stake in their success. People selling queens and bees actually make more money selling replacement queens and bees when the bees fail. Now I'm not saying they are purposely trying to raise queens that fail, but I am saying they have no financial incentive to produce queens that don't. Basically to cash in on the benefits of not treating, you need to be rearing your own queens.

    "Quality. Nothing is more important to success in beekeeping than the queen. The quality of your queens can often surpass that of a queen breeder. You have the time to spend to do things that a commercial breeder cannot afford to do. For instance, research has shown that a queen that is allowed to lay up until it's 21 days will be a better queen with better developed ovarioles than one that is banked sooner. A longer wait will help even more, but that first 21 days is much more critical. A commercial queen producer typically looks for eggs at two weeks and if there are any it is banked and eventually shipped. You can let yours develop better by spending more time. "
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    And yet hardly any queen breeders are breeding for these traits. The genetics of our queens if far too important to be left to people who don't have a stake in their success. People selling queens and bees actually make more money selling replacement queens and bees when the bees fail. Now I'm not saying they are purposely trying to raise queens that fail, but I am saying they have no financial incentive to produce queens that don't. Basically to cash in on the benefits of not treating, you need to be rearing your own queens.
    Sorry, can't agree with much of that. Certainly wasn't my attitude when I was in the business, a shame to see new gullible heads being indoctrinated.


    Many hobbyists aspire to one day going full time with bees. If they achieve that and sell queens, do they automatically have a personanlity change from bee lovers, to rip off artists?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    While I agree with much of what MB says I would tend to agree with OT that he may have overreached a bit on at least one point. I know there are many diligent breeders that have work hard on producing a quality product that results not just in good bees but return customers.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    i have grown quite tired of the stereotype that "southern queens are junk and full of AHB". seems like a broken record that is played over and over and over and over. many of "us" here is the south are not in AHB areas and work very hard to produce quality queens. i don't sell anything that i wouldn't use myself. in fact, sometimes we do use our own caged queens to make some hives up.
    Greg Stahlman; Stahlman Apiaries Inc.

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