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Thread: Queenless Split

  1. #1

    Default Queenless Split

    I just upgraded my girls from their 3' box to a 4'. Now I have an open 3' box, and a real urge to attempt to make a split. I think we'll have a nectar flow late enough into the fall/winter down here that they'll survive. Or else I'll just feed them through the winter.
    Anyway, I don't have the option to go a few miles for the split but could probably get about 90' away. I've read some people will do a split and just seal the bees up for a few days so they don't all go back to the original hive. This will be a queenless split.
    How long should I leave them sealed up before the decide they're on their own and start raising a new queen?
    Will a screen bottom board be enough for ventilation or should I do something to give them some upper ventillation as well? It's been in the upper 90's down here in Houston.

    Any other advice on how to make this a success? My plan right now is to pull two frames of honey/pollen (I've got two good ones picked out) and three frames of mixed brood. I'll put them on the 3' box and seal them up for three-five days. I suppose I can put on an entrance feeder with water so they don't get dehydrated. I say I have two frames of honey and pollen picked from the donor hive, which I believe to be pretty strong now. Would taking both of these be detrimental to the donor hive or should they bounce back OK. As is they have ~15 bars of brood with honey at the top, along with two bars of mostly pollen, which I was thinking about stealing for the split. Or would stealing just one frame of mostly pollen be enough?

    Shoot, maybe I don't know as much as I thought about this. If the split doesn't work out I won't be entirely bummed. But if it also hurts the donor hive I'd be really upset.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    657

    Default Re: Queenless Split

    I would do this:

    1. Place a new hive right next to the old one.
    2. Move at least three frames of brood (with eggs) to the new hive and at least one frame of stores.
    3. Then move the parent hive at least several feet away from original location.


    Now the new hive is closest to the original place of the parent hive and most foragers will return to it. With little brood to care for, they will concentrate on collecting nectar and raise a new queen.

    The old hive with no foragers will not have any backfilling of the brood nest. This gives the old queen space to lay and the nurse bees will be kept busy with more young brood to care for. In a few weeks the nurse bees will start foraging.

    Matthew Davey

  3. #3

    Default Re: Queenless Split

    Thanks MattDavey. So you're essentially recommending robbing not only a few bars of brood, but also getting a lot of the foragers as well from the mother hive. I can see how this would help with the new hive taking off, but what is the risk of having too many foragers vs the size of the brood nest? Would they not risk filling the brood nest with nectar/pollen?

    At the same time, the original hive is now shorted on foragers, although with enough stores this is not a concern, but what is the risk there?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to challenge what you are saying. I really appreciate the advice. I just want to make sure it all goes well.

    What is the risk of the bees hatching out in the new box and then moving back to the old one if they are too close together. I was going to have them be 90' apart until they both get back on their feet, and then possibly move them closer together again. I'm kind or restricted on moving my hives when full, as I only have the one bee suit, and my pregnant wife certainly won't help. I guess I need to stop being cheap and get that second bee suit I've been talking about so she can help if needed.

    I do like the theory on the old hive not getting the brood nest backfilled. That does make sense to me. Then again we are trying to outthink our bees here...good luck with that!
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Weweantic, Massachusetts, USA
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    22

    Default Re: Queenless Split

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Brueggen View Post

    What is the risk of the bees hatching out in the new box and then moving back to the old one if they are too close together.
    When the bees hatch they are not going to go back to the hive that they were laid in, they will stay in the hive in which the were born, don't forget that they will do their orientation flight to learn where their hive is.

    Cheers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
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    657

    Default Re: Queenless Split

    1. The new hive with all the foragers will not have a queen, so will not swarm. If you want to make sure they won't swarm, go into the hive after 7 days and destroy all but the best two looking queens cells. Leave two in case one fails to emerge.

    2. As long as there are a few frames of stores there is little risk as there will be some Nurse bees starting to forage in the first few days.

    3. You only need to move the hive a few feet apart. They will go to the closest hive that they are use to going to. If they have never been outside the hive before they will go back to the one they came from.

    4. DON"T get your wife to move the hive if she is pregnant. You don't want to risk her getting hurt or her going into labor early. (Believe me, I have a kid who was a premmie.)
    If you can use a hand trolley or SECURE wheels to one side, you could move it yourself, but I would recommend getting another beekeeper to help move it, or as you said get a second suit and get someone to help.

    Matthew Davey

  6. #6

    Default Re: Queenless Split

    Haha...I would never have my wife help. I was teasing about that. I've been busting her chops lately because she keeps wanting to lug around heavy buckets of water and climb ladders and such. Stubborn like her husband...
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  7. #7

    Default Re: Queenless Split

    Damage is done! I split the hive today. I followed the advice of MattDavey except that I moved the queen with the few frames to the new hive. I know she will not be able to lay until the build her some new comb, but I brushed off a few bars of worker bees into the new hive so they have some higher numbers to get them started. I took the queen to the new hive, because I was more confident that there were eggs of the proper age in the donor hive. I wanted to make sure that the new hive would have the best chance of success. I know the donor hive has plenty of eggs/larva that will be of the proper age to raise a queen, so I'm not worried about them. I'll check back on Friday 6/15/2012 to look for queen cells. I'll also pop open the window on the new hive and check to see how they are coming along with building comb.

    You know, in hindsight, I guess I should have left the queen in the donor hive and just been more conscious about egg/larva age to the new hive. Now I suppose my queen risks being honey bound in the new hive. Maybe I can pull some combs of hatched brood from the donor hive once it hatches and move those open combs to the new hive so the queen has some space. I also have some chunks of frozen comb in the freezer that I could fix to bars and return to the new hive for extra space. Yeah, I better get on that!
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
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    Default Re: Queenless Split

    So you DIDN'T follow my advice then....

    Ideally the old queen should NOT be in the original location as the brood nest will quickly get backfilled. So you will need to make sure there is plenty of empty drawn comb in the hive with the queen.

    The last step I forget to mention on this thread was that you should cull the queen cells after 7 days so that there are only two of the best looking ones left.

    Otherwise the bees in the new split can swarm, like cast swarms. This is because it looks to the bees like the old queen has already left in a swarm.

    So make it look like Supersedure!

    Matthew Davey

  9. #9

    Default Re: Queenless Split

    I just wanted to let everyone know the splits are doing great! Checking tonight, I have one new queen laying already, another queen, but no visible eggs yet, and the third split is not looking too good. I put another bar in it with eggs. If in a few days they're building queen cells again then I'll assume those queens failed for some reason. I'll give them one more chance to raise a queen, and if it doesn't take I'll recombine and call it quits for the rest of the summer.

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