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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
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    293

    Default Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    When do you plan on doing your splits? Early March? End of March? Or is it too early to tell? If my hive makes it through the winter I would like to split it before I see swarm cells. I have never done a split so any advice you can give me would be great. Thank you !

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Hartwell, GA
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    183

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    SallyD

    I don't give advice, but will tell you what I've been successful doing. I let the bees tell me what to do and when to do it. I'm not in the "Business" so to speak, just love the hobby. Anyhow, I watch the hives for drone cells then watch the hive for queen cell development. Once I find the queen cell and depending on it's development I will move that frame with the queen cell and bees to the center of a NUC, assuming it is a deep frame, if not to an eight frame medium super and start a hive. I will add two additional frames in the nuc, one of honey and pollen and another of brood and enough bees to make two pounds. Close the openings and feed heavy syrup. Make sure the entrance is small so robbers don't get to them and when you open it up, place a leafy branch over the opening so they reorient and don't rejoin the old hive. Once that NUC is jammed with bees, they will make a new queen and you can split and start again. Once the NUCs are established and overflowing, start as many hives as you can, remember healthy, well fed, dense colonies is the goal. The one hive, if healthy and with a good queen will throw you several queens in a season. I don't raise queens cause I don't have enough bees to support all I could raise. That's another subject.

    NO EXPERT, JUST MY OPINION.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
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    293

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    Thank you Scottsman: You said you will "close the openings and feed heavy syrup." How long do you keep the openings closed for? Do you remember what time last year that was when you did split? If I am understanding this you mean you split your nuc as well?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Kingston, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    277

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    I've lived in Woodstock since 2001 up until recently but if you feed heavy with 1:1 sugar mixture and protein patties from now till the tulip populars start blooming in April, you should be able to start splitting in mid-March to the mid-April.
    Swarms cells started to show up last year the first of March, they may be on track to to start early again this year. Just let your eyes tell you so keep looking in the hives till they tell you it's time, booming population, full of brood and drone development.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Loganville/Greensboro, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    241

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    Excellent answers so far. Last year in Loganville we had capped drones in late February. This past week, all my hives (that I checked) have some to lots of brood but no capped drones to speak of yet but soon I think. One hive had a few capped drones but a bad pattern, I think maybe queen issues. I like Scottsman like to use queen cells to make splits. Fireants are a real problem for me when it comes to splits so I put new splits on an antproof stand. (As antproof as a stand can be anyway) Entrance reducers, feed. If the weather keeps up like this I'm thinking mid to late March to start splits. Gotta have drones first.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Hartwell, GA
    Posts
    183

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    I agree, mid March, maybe earlier if it tracks as it has the past two years. Early spring seems to be the new norm. Watch the bees, on warm days, they'll tell you by the drone cells when it's time to get your equipment ready. I leave the entrance covered for a minimum of 24 hours and depending on how they are acting up to 3 days. Any longer and they will need water.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    Good morning SallyD.

    Like so many other aspects of beekeeping it is hard to fix a date and can be a tricky business. Drones, as have been pointed out already, are a key. I look for drones and drone cells in my hives. Some start earlier than others…so again, it can be a sticky wicket.

    If you wait until you see swarm cells…you’d be safe to split but……that too can require some close timing. A couple of days too long and the swarm may already have left. If there is a mix of different aged swarm cells…you can get multiple swarms that will deplete your hive to a point that it may not be strong enough to survive the season itself. And if you choose to remove the swarm cells for your splits…but you overlook a single cell (and they can hide them well) your hive will swarm all the same. If you remove the old queen with your split you must go back and check for supercedure cells or you may unintentionally produce a swarm.

    My preference is to start inspecting my hives as soon as the weather permits (already happening here). When I see a lot of capped drone cells and a number of drones, I’ll begin splitting. I've already seen a couple of hives that fit that description but the great majority aren't there...yet. I prefer to get ahead of the swarm impulse.

    As I said….it can be a tricky business and doesn’t have any one-size-fits-all answers.

    Good luck!
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
    Posts
    293

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    Thank you all. It sure is not a one size fits all! There are several ways to do splits too. I will start looking for drone pattern. I really want to split my hive (I only have one) so they do not swarm and also would love to have two hives. I just do not want to screw it up. I still am not that experienced in finding the queen. Thank you all for your response. Sally

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,734

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    +1 on the beemandan

    My belief is that once you've found queen cells you've waited too long. The colony is already in swarm prep mode and will likely be less productive than if the split was done earlier. Colonies that move into swarm prep are far less efficient than those who do not. A split using queen cells may stop a swarm, but it may require taking more resources from the parent colony.

    Make your splits early, which if you're going to make a queen requires purple-eyed drone brood at a minimum. I prefer to have drones flying.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,734

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    Quote Originally Posted by UTvolshype View Post
    ... if you feed heavy with 1:1 sugar mixture and protein patties from now till the tulip populars start blooming in April, you should be able to start splitting in mid-March to the mid-April.
    I guess that might work in your area, but if I fed like that here it would be swarm fest 2013.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  11. #11

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    I guess that might work in your area, but if I fed like that here it would be swarm fest 2013.
    And here, if we fed like that (pollen/sub/protein patties) it would be a small hive beetle fest! Beekeeping is very different from one place to another.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
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    293

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    So the best bet would be too look for a good drone pattern and not queen cells? Split when you see a good drone pattern. I would like them to raise their own queen. I am not really concerned about the honey. Should I let the nuc (split) raise their own queen or take the queen from the mother colony (if I can find it) and let the original hive make their own queen.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    I'm always concerned about honey, so I manage my colonies for maximum production, which mean any early splits (if taken at all) would be done with maximum production as their basis. Following my earlier guidance, you would look for drones either flying (preferred), on the comb, or purple-eyed stage of drone pupae. You'll need to uncap some drone brood to assess its development stage.

    If you're not concerned about honey, then it doesn't matter too much how you do your splits. If you wait till you see swarm cells, your biggest concern would be the parent colony swarming and losing it to the trees. Seriously, wouldn't you much rather get a nice honey crop and a split rather than trying to figure out how to get your swarm out of a 50ft tree?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  14. #14

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    Hi Sally. Look for capped drone cells and drones that have already emerged. Historically this would occur in mid to late March here but last year (and following other mild winters) it was early March. Based on this winter, so far, I’m guessing early March or even late February. If you are ready to make your split and are unable to find your queen, then make sure to take a frame with eggs to your split and make sure to leave the parent hive with one as well. Whichever was left queenless should begin making queen cells and they should be easily recognizable in 5 – 6 days. The queenless hive should have new brood (eggs and larvae) visible in about thirty days, if they were successful in making a queen. You may have to look closely as the new queen may have just begun laying.

    If you are splitting into a nuc box (my preference) take at least three frames: a frame with eggs and larvae, one with capped brood and one with pollen/honey. If the parent hive can spare it, take another with honey. Take all the bees covering those frames and gently shake another frame or so of extra bees. If you plan to leave the split in the same yard as the parent hive make sure to place the split at least several feet away and even then some of the old foragers will return to their original home. Younger nurse bees will remain with the split. Feed both hives until there is a good nectar flow. I would continue to feed the split until they’ve drawn all of their new frames, and once they’ve done that, I’d move them into a full size hive and continue to feed them.
    That is the basics. Check both regularly until you are confident that both are growing and vigorous.
    Good luck.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
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    293

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    Dan...thank you and I will follow that advice for sure. Astrobee..no I sure do not want to be getting a swarm out of a tree....no thank you! I guess my point is I am more concerned about the bees making it then getting a lot of honey! Thank you all !

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Loganville, GA
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    2,172

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    I'll add that after that 4 or 5 days and the queen cells have been drawn. I will inspect the cells, which there could be many of, and tear out the dinks. Preferring the larger cells and larger queens that will emerge. The first queen to emerge from the cells will find the rest and kill the other queens before they also emerge. Hopefully! So there isn't a battle to the death and two queens wind up dead, leaving you to place more eggs in the split to make new queen cells.
    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
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    293

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    I know you generally find the queen cells on the bottom of the frames in a brood box. I have to deep brood boxes on mine. Would it generally be in the bottom one or does that matter? For that matter since I have two brood boxes could I just take one brood box and start a new hive (making sure there are newly laid eggs to raise a queen) along with pollen, honey and some nurse bees. I have a nuc box so it would be no problem to start a nuc for that matter. I was just thinking though since I have two deep brood boxes on the hive. Let me know what you think of that idea. THank you all!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Loganville, GA
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    2,172

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    It would be fine to split the boxes if you have enough bees to do so. You usually want to make the split with a nuc to leave as many bees as possible in the mother hive to keep honey production high. And the use of a nuc, assuming your using a small amount of resources, is so that the split doesn't have a lot of real estate to protect. Empty space not protected by the bees is invasion territory for pests.
    If you're splitting with eggs prior to swarm activity, my preference personally(swarming bees can be hard to persuade otherwise unless you move the queen with the split), the bees will be in panic mode because they have lost their queen and they will make cells where ever there are viable larva. So you'll find cells all over the frames and often quite a few. I don't typically allow more than two or even one cell to remain for fear of having multiple queens hatching out at the same time. But then I am probably also inclined to cut some of those cells out to make other splits with. But I also have plenty of hives to do that with. Not your case and not what your goal is. Making a smaller split will give you the second hive you want and allow your first hive to produce some honey for you to enjoy. The split will have plenty of time to come up to speed and be strong enough to make it through winter. If it's a good season, crossed fingers, they may even produce for you? A fresh new, well mated queen can amaze with their ability to make a hive explode with bees. Hope that's your case! It's exciting to see!
    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
    Posts
    293

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    Today I looked into my hive and saw drone cells on my frames- I just took out a few frames in the honey super and could see the cells. I was mainly looking to make sure they had enough honey. Now that I saw drone cells I should be getting close to splitting right? I feel it is too cold to split and if I split to a nuc (which I do have a nuc box) it would be too cold to feed them. I am really concerned they will swarm before I get the chance to split. I did not look for swarm cells- do you think I still have a few weeks, perhaps late February- any one in Atlanta plan on splitting soon? Thanks in advance. The hive seems very active with a lot of bees!

  20. #20

    Default Re: Question for Atlanta area beekeepers

    I am hoping to take a look in the hives at SGG this week….Wednesday....weather permitting. I’ll be happy to let you know what I think.
    For my hives at home…it is still a wee bit early….and this is what I’m expecting in Kennesaw.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

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