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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Amador County, California, USA
    Posts
    138

    Default How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    I would like to know how many times I could split my hives safely, so that they have the time, and the capacity to build up successful colonies.

    Some commercial beekeepers I know, and work with split (all) their hives three times every year. I thought this was too much, but it works well with them. Would this require a lot (I mean a lot) of feeding?

    Also, is it bad that I feed them honey from other hives? My brother works on proccessing (extracting, bottling, distributing) honey for a very large commercial beekeeper, and they have a lot of honey which they have no use for (if it gets dirty, you know). I've talked with one beekeeper and he said I should not feed my bees this honey because it will pass on diseases to them.

    Thank you,
    Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Crown Point, NY, USA
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    Well I'd say 3 is a good number. Then again I wouldn't split my best hives. Why not let them make honey??? I would split my dinks into 4, 4 frame nucs maybe even 5 nucs (june) per colony. I would milk off more nucs from these in july and august (swarm control as your on honey flow here). This will give you 8-15 nucs that can be over wintered. This serves several purposes. You will have tested queens that are over-winter in your area. You may use these nucs to increase, requeen, run 2 queen colonies, sell, ect. You also cull the worst colonies from your bee yards not break up your best ones. I can link Palmer and Webster vids if this is a practice u wanna persue.

    As for honey; last I checked thats what bees eat. The real question is what is this commercial beekeepers practices? Does he use antibiotics to treat fouls (mask/ cover up imho)? If yes to this then no I wouldn't use his honey to feed. If you have your own honey and your confident on no diseases then use your own honey, Isn't that the honey your own bees were gonna eat anyway? With that said there are always risks in life.

    Clay

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Lake county, Indiana 46408-4109
    Posts
    3,536

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    How many times you can safely split depends on how strong the hives is.
    Ed, KA9CTT profanity is IGNORANCE made audible
    you can`t fix stupid not even with duct tape

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    I'm buying my first hive with a nuc, how many times should I split them to keep them from swarming?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,716

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    ImaNewBeeToThis, if you are referring to splitting right after you buy the nuc, I'd recommend that would not be a good plan for a new beekeeper. Unless you specifically bought an over-wintered nuc, that nuc was likely made as a "split" not long before you got it.
    Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 01-15-2013 at 05:22 PM.
    Graham
    --- Victor Hugo - "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    When do you know it's time to split?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Crown Point, NY, USA
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    Well an obvious time to split would be when bees are naturally inclinde to do it. Swarm season and summer months all would be a good start.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,716

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    ImaNewBeeToThis, here's more info on splitting for you:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm
    Graham
    --- Victor Hugo - "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,471

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    If your goal is increase you can get 6 splits a season if you start early although some will do less and it depends on your area's nectar flows. It is important to order your queens early and from the best supplier you know of. Ordering early is important because you want your queens ready when the hives are ready. It's easy to bank queens for a week or more if the hives aren't ready but a hive that get's to swarm stage will be more difficult to manage if your queens are a week late. The slender cages will save you time when you are doing the splits and have a higher acceptance as you have no attendants in the cages. We start stimulative feeding the 1st week of February which is about 1- 2 weeks before maple bloom at our southern yards. Each hives gets a gallon of 1: 1syrup. I prefer to open feed for this as I believe the bees coming and going with syrup helps stimulate brood rearing better than our internal feeders. This gets brood rearing up and running right out of the gate. The 3rd week of March we grade our hives 1- 5. 1's being boomers, 2's and 3s (ready to split in 2 or 3 weeks respectively) 4's which are the underachievers and 5's which are queenless or drone hives. 5's get shaken out. We switch locations between 1's ands 4's to equalize the populations as by the 3rd week of March we are seeing some type of steady honey flow. We address any hive issues such as beetles, mites etc. and look at brood patterns while watching for early swarm signs such as large numbers of drone cells. The 2nd week of April or as soon as we have steady nights at 55F and above to avoid chill brood, we split into 3 single deeps. We do this by marking the orginal hive entrance location and then locating the three new hives equal distance from the orginal location about 2 feet away. We do this on a warm afternoon when the field workers are coming and going so we can watch them returning to the orginal location and orienting equally to all three hives. This is achieved by watching the foragers re-orient to hives and moving them so the incoming bees are choosing equally between the new locations. (picture a clock face with the orginal entrance as the where the hands will be centered and new nucs at 12, 4 and 8 clock for the three split and 12 and 6 for the 2 split) We wait 24 hrs and then install the new queens in the queenless splits. After 24 hours we move the hives back another 1 1/2 feet and cock the entrance 20 degrees away from the others so we have space for the next round of Two weeks later, around the 1st week of May we split the 3 orginals splits into 2 nucs each - 4 or 5 frames depending on the strenght of the hive using the same method as the we did for the 3 splits only using nuc boxes. You will have plenty of brood since you had 3 queens laying now for 2 weeks in addition to any unhatched original brood. We truck our nucs back to New York either while the queens are still caged or 7+ days after she is installed. Once in New York they we give them 48 hours to settle in and adjust and move them into deeps (and sell some) and these hives are ready for the season in singles and will have 8 or 9 frames drawn, ready for the 1st honey flow within 2 -3 weeks. Depending on the season we usually split 125 hives to between 600 and 700 nucs. We expect our nucs to still produce a full crop of honey for the season (125lb. min in our area) and make stores for winter so we set them up in 2 queen units the 1st week of June. That's a whole new fun headache you'll find in the Dadant's "The Hive and the Honey Bee" A couple of key things to keep in mind is a queen will lay 5-7 frames of brood in an early 21 day cycle, 2nd year queens if not replaced doing this are more likely to swarm at some point in the season and the night temperatures to avoid chill brood are critical during the time you are making the splits. Finally, if you use swarm cells at any point in the process expect to lose nucs and production due to delays in hatching and breeding and poorly bred or queens lost during mating.

    Of course there are routine inspection to be done for queen acceptance and such during these processes.

    You will need to adjust your times and expectations according to your area, nectar flows and weather. We in effect, due our yard locations, achieve a full crop flow in April, June and August September. Without those you can still support minor flows with feeding to achieve similar results.
    Whatever you decide - Good Luck, have fun and let us all know how it goes!!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,749

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    ImaNewBeeToThis.. Don't split a new nuc at all. Give it room to expand and there is little reason for it to swarm. It should have a new queen, again diminishing the urge to swarm. Build that nuc to produce honey for you.

    cchoganjr

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Blount County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    Joel, Thanks for sharing your process. I found it very informative.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,255

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeTheBeekeeper View Post
    I would like to know how many times I could split my hives safely, so that they have the time, and the capacity to build up successful colonies.

    Some commercial beekeepers I know, and work with split (all) their hives three times every year. I thought this was too much, but it works well with them. Would this require a lot (I mean a lot) of feeding?

    Also, is it bad that I feed them honey from other hives? My brother works on proccessing (extracting, bottling, distributing) honey for a very large commercial beekeeper, and they have a lot of honey which they have no use for (if it gets dirty, you know). I've talked with one beekeeper and he said I should not feed my bees this honey because it will pass on diseases to them.

    Thank you,
    Mike
    How many frames of brood covered w/ bees and corresponding number of frames of honey to go w/ them can you get out of your hive?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    IG, Slovenia
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    I think it is hard to split successful colonies, like Clayton says (hard meaning unwise). But with great nectar comes great splitting potential.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    If I'm not suppose to split my first nuc, what are you supposed to do when both of your bodies are full of brood?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
    The 2nd week of April or as soon as we have steady nights at 55F and above to avoid chill brood, we split into 3 single deeps.
    Joel, If I'm reading your post correctly this is while you're still in south Carolina?

    My yard is on Watercure Rd near where it drops down the hill into Elmira - not far from Rorick Hollow Rd - and the days are just getting steadily above 55 in mid April.
    Or was it a typo?

    Curious when/if you give bees pollen sub to stimulate brood in spring: before/after/same time as you start feeding syrup?

    Also, do you sell nucs only, or will you have Finger Lakes queens for sale as well?

    Thx,
    Craig

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,340

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    Wow is that a loaded question. Depends is a huge factor. Have a local old timer come look at your hives and get some real eyes on your plan.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,547

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    One thing worth paying attention to (I think Mike Palmer pointed it out to me) is the age of the bees you are splitting.

    There is a tendency (and don't ask how I know) to get overzealous after your first successful split...."now I can make 2 more!"

    It's a bit like looking at those 3D "magic eye" posters....you want to hold the frame of bees covering brood in front of you, and focus, not on the comb, but on the thoraxes of the bees on the comb. Young bees are fuzzy here...older bees are shiny. If you are looking at a lot of shiny thoraxes, you are probably looking at somewhat older bees tending to the brood. You do not want to set these bees up to raise an emergency queen (walk away split), and you want to make sure any split you do make has plenty of young bees....if they don't, wait a couple of weeks for brood to emerge (assuming there is a lot of brood to start with...otherwise, splitting probably isn't warranted in the first place).

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Clark county, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    220

    Default Re: How many times do you think I can split my hives safely?

    Great point deknow

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