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  1. #1
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    Jan 2011
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    Default Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    Two weeks ago tomorrow I performed a cut down split on my TBH. They have built out queen cells nicely. They have continued to be very active at the entrance. The queen should be out sometime soon, but I noticed an issue. They have filled the brood nest with nectar. I guess it's a good thing that they are bringing in so much nectar, but how do I go about this? Just leave them alone and let them figure it out or do I need to do something?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    C'mon Bush! I was under the impression you were a pro at this...Now I have to rethink everything I thought I new.

    I'm glad you posted this, as I was thinking about doing the same thing. That is if by a "cut-down" split you mean just taking half the hive to a new box???

    As you said, the queen should be out sometime soon. Perhaps since they know she is coming, they are just stockpiling nectar as they normally would. Once she is established and "claims" her broodnest (just as our wives claim our houses ) they will move the nectar out of the way. From what I've read, the worst you'll have to do is just take those bars of nectar and move them to the back of the hive so they can build back brood comb.

    Help me out here, how did you go about making the split? I just posted a thread on it, proposing what I was planning on doing. I'd like to do it as early as this weekend if all looks well in the donor hive. Is it really just as simple as grabbing a few bars and putting them in another TBH?
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Moyock, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    hey dont forget about me! I am looking to split my hive too. the sooner the better. I have a 4 footer thats 75% full. lots of worker brood very little stores though. can i split if each hive has a feeder???

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    FYI I just want to mention that I am not michael bush. Some confuse me for him due to the bush in my name. This is my second year keeping bees.

    Actually Michael bush has a great section on splitting. A cut down split is removing the queen a couple of weeks before the main flow. This would allow the nurse bees to "graduate" to foragers much faster due to lack of brood to care for. I seemed to have done it about a week before basswood blossoms. Now the blackberry has started and the raspberry is almost here. These are big in my area. So I was just a bit early, but I had a time constraint.

    A cut down split is basically making a nuc. You take the queen plus a few combs and transfer them over. I took the comb with the queen plus combs with a decent mix of capped brood, pollen, and honey. Four total. I also fed. I found that it helps to have new comb with eggs/young larvae. The bees easily mold that to make queen cells. I actually did this accidentally by adding four empty bars in the brood nest a week or two prior to finding all thoe queen cups.

    I will simply recheck on things after a bit and see how they are faring, I suspect you are right that the bees will likely shift things around. I will check in on them next week to see if there is any signs of a queen. If nothing another check in a week would be my plan plus considering adding open brood to avoid a laying worker.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Victoria, Australia
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    660

    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    This is all part of the usual swarm process. Backfilling happens before queen cells are built. So when the old queen leaves with the swarm and there's no new foragers being raised, there are the resources available for the bees to raise new brood, when the new queen starts laying. They will quickly make room for the new queen to lay once she starts laying.

    Also, make sure you only have 2 queen cells! (In case one fails to emerge.) Cull the smaller queen cells. Otherwise they could swarm on you, as this is mimicking a swarm situation where the old queen has already left.

    Matthew Davey
    Last edited by MattDavey; 06-08-2012 at 01:27 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    Quote Originally Posted by Bush_84 View Post
    FYI I just want to mention that I am not michael bush. Some confuse me for him due to the bush in my name. This is my second year keeping bees.
    Haha, I was one of those people. All apologies.

    OK, so in a cut-down split, the queen goes to the new hive...? I suppose that is a sensible enough measure. That insures that there are eggs in the right range to raise a new queen in the old hive, rather than risk it trying to transfer brood comb that you think is in the right range. Unless she has stopped laying for some reason, you are guaranteed to have 1-3 day old eggs in the original hive, and your laying queen will move right on over to the new box and take up where she left off. That may actually be a more beneficial way to make a split. I suppose it does stall the donor hive's progress, but it also accelerates the new hive's progress.

    I guess I'm going to have to get better at spotting the queen. My current queen is marked, but if I make a split and they raise one I don't know what I'll do! Guess I'll actually have to train my eyes to spot her. Perhaps I'll invest in some marking equipment.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    If they were going to swarm, they would have done it by now as the queens were on schedule to emerge earlier this week. I have been working 12s all week so I would have no idea if they swarmed until I look next week, but I believe my bait hives are empty...which doesn't mean anything other than they are empty.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Moyock, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    bush 84 so you split 2 weeks ago...?
    how many bars did you move over?
    approximately how many total bars in your original hive?

    I have 30 bar hive 20+ bars are drawn out, filled with brood. I want to split asap of course.

    did you do anything special to the new hive to aid in the process?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    This coming Monday will be 3 weeks ago. The initial split I moved over four total combs. One was simply the comb with the queen. The other 3 were the combs with the most sealed brood. One had a lot of capped brood and pollen. I also gave it two shakes of bees.

    The second split I made after the queen cells were capped, but before the queens emerged. I made this one a bit smaller and wish I had added more shakes of bees, but so far I still have bees covering the comb.

    I would have to go back out there to count how many combs they have. They were getting sort of close to a comb on every bar of a 4 ft TBH that's larger dimensions compared to Phil Chandler's hive. About 2/3rds was plump full with some empty comb on the far side.

    I would say that there are a few things to make sure you get a good split.

    1. Make sure they either have a queen or a queen cell. That will ensure they have the best chance.
    2. Make sure you either give them some honey or feed them.
    3. Make sure they have pollen.
    4. I like to use capped brood (note this is the first time I have split a hive). The bees will emerge and give an instant boost to the population.

    The rest depends on your goals. I really like the idea of a cut down split as I get more hives and increased honey production during my main flow. They will have a lag in population, but as of now they have more uncapped nectar in the hive than I have ever seen. So I am pleased with my situation.

    One neat trick that I will surely do again is add empty bars 2 weeks prior to removing the queen. The bees will extend this comb out and the queen will fill it with eggs. The new comb is easily moldable by the bees and it's very easy for them to make queen cells out of this type of comb. Nearly all of my queen cells came from these combs. They were all at the edges of the comb and almost none at the face of the comb. The bees had made quite a few queen cups, but I suspect they were all empty and they raised a queen from the right aged larvae they had laying around.

    I hope that answers your questions. Remember I am a 2nd year beek, but I hope this helps.

  10. #10
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    May 2012
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    ok so 1 question more(for now)
    the second split you referred to... was that splitting the queenless donor colony to get multiple queens that live upon hatching?(2 nucs basically) or am I out in left field?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    The second split came from the original colony which was queenless. This reduces their chances of swarming, which I believe was their original intent and it gives me a backup. If one colony doesn't get a queen up and running I can combine. It wasn't an even split. I just brought enough over to keep the new hive going.

    Edit-Saw the queen in my second split today. I also saw my original queen in the first split. The main colony is so large that I wasn't looking hard, but didn't find her. I assume there's a virgin in there somewhere.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    Bush_84: It seems like you are having great success. I applaud you. I also hope the success keeps up, because I just performed the same sort of split on my TBH today. I suppose I could whip together a third hive and do the second split as you mentioned once I get a few queen cells going. I don't know if my wife will let me do that much just yet. She is still skeptical that I am getting into all this too fast, but I just can't seem to get enough! I hate to stand idle and miss an opportunity to grow my numbers. I have a lot of people waiting for my honey!
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    So far so good. I saw the queen in the second split last week. There aren't a lot of bees coming and going in that hive, but they are still chugging along. Hopefully the queen gets going soon.

    The fist split is building comb and becoming more and more active. This hive has the original queen.

    The original hive still has a ton of honey and nectar in the hive. I saw a ton of pollen coming in the other day. No signs of brood, but I suspect they are responding to a virgin queen. Getting pollen ready for upcoming brood, but I have yet to see her. There has also been an influx of drones in the first two combs of the hives, which I saw last year with the presence of a virgin queen. I have no idea where they will move all that honey to. They have plenty of partial combs in the brood nest. So they have some room to expand yet. I guess they will just have to get going on at comb building. Will update again once I see evidence of laying queens.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    Speaking of cut back split evidence, I just checked on my girls. The donor hive is currently queenless. Peaking in the hive I counted 7 queen cups on the end of two bars. They have 16 bars, so I can only imagine how many more are around back.

    On the new hive the original queen is still ruling almost all of the foragers from the original hive. They are working feverishly to pull new comb. I attempted to fix some stored comb I had back to a bar and returned it to them. Immediately they filled it with nectar instead of eggs, and the weak wax/gluing job that I did failed, so now I have two nectar filled combs laying on the hive floor. I wonder if any of the combs in the original hive have hatched out and could be moved into the new hive. They really need the space!

    But overall things look really good!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    I did cut down splits for the first time ever this year and the increase in honey production is tremendous if you can keep them from swarming, which was a big issue for me. I did not remove any queen cells that the bees constructed, so the first queen out took off with a swarm in a few of my hives. Fortunately, I captured all the swarms. I think that culling all but one queen cell would have been better to do. The cut downs that did not swarm are producing honey faster than any hive I have ever had in my life. Having all drawn honey comb for the medium supers certainly helps too, they fill those things up faster than you can believe. I honestly don't know why more beekeepers don't use cut downs regularly. John

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    So today was my free day to check up on progress. All three hives have laying queens! I saw 2/3 of them. Actually the queen I didn't see was the queen in the small split, but I am pretty sure that I saw eggs (bad lighting). That is also the hive that I saw the queen last time. So I am confident that all hives should have queens. There is still a fair amount of nectar/honey in the original hive, but I can tell that they've consumed some once they have ramped up brood rearing again. The weather here hasn't been great either. A lot of rain and clouds, but as of Thursday that should improve. So as of now I'll call this a success!

  17. #17
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    May 2012
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    C'mon Bush84...
    You know you're bragging!!
    But really though, congrats!..
    I am almost ready to split mine...
    Just making a few finishing touches on the new 5 foot hive.(their new home)
    I will post soon when it happens..Keep on the lookout for me!!
    thanks

  18. #18

    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    My cutback appears to be doing well also. The queenless hive has dozens of queen cells built, so I'll have to do some thinning. As is, I'm going to double split it again, resulting in 3 5-frame nucs. I'm going to attempt to cut out as many queens as possible and actually hand them off to a fellow beek down here that needs a few queens. I'd rather do that then kill them. But my hive that has the queen is absolutely booming, and pulling comb rapidly.

    I had another related question about doing splits and helping them along. I know that frames of capped brood can be moved between hives to help a queenless hive get brood. Does it have to be capped brood or could a frame of eggs be moved? I was thinking, since I made the split, a lot of the brood has hatched out in the queenless hives, resulting in a lot of open comb. I was wondering if I could stick these in the queen-right hive, have her lay them full of eggs, and then give them back to the queenless nucs to help boost population. I'm just worried about how much more population I'll lose in the time that it takes my new queens to get mated and start laying. If I can help fill that space with some young bees I really think it would help the nucs to ramp up once the queens hatch. I know it will possibly slow the progress of the queen-right hive, but I'm not worried about that hive since I know the queen is great.

    So again, can a frame of eggs be transferred, or will the bees reject it because it may not smell like them? Then again it may since it comes from the last queen they knew. Can it be eggs, larva, or does it have to be capped brood for the sharing to be successful? If I can do it with eggs, then tomorrow I will make the final splits, assuring there are two queen cells in each nuc. At the same time I will put three bars of open comb into the queen-right hive and let her lay in it for 1-2 days, then transfer one back to each queenless nuc. I know it's extra work, but really not much, if the success factor is boosted significantly. I suppose I will also have to make sure and brush off all the bees that will be on it from the queen-right hive so it doesn't cause fighting in the nucs.

    Thoughts?
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    You can transfer over a comb of eggs if you wish. The reason I moved capped brood over is that they will hatch sooner giving the bees a quick boost. One downside to transfering over a comb of eggs is that the bees at the new hive will have to tend to them, which means resources. Once they are capped, all they have to do is keep them warm.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Cut Down Split-Back Filled Brood Nest

    Well the idea is the same either way I guess. Basically the queen in the new hive has very little space to lay, and the nucs will benefit from the donor eggs/larva. I suppose I could pull frames of capped brood from the queenright hive and leave behind the empty bars for the queen to lay in. That may actually be the better and faster option. I just wasn't sure if it had to be capped brood or if they would accept eggs/larva. Thanks Bush.

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