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Thread: Splitting Hives

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Ben Lomond, Arkansas, USA

    Default Splitting Hives

    I have 5 hives that I intend to split this year. I use medium supers all the way - including the hive bodys. Three of the hives are a total of four supers and two of the hives are five supers. The supers are all full to the brim. I have been feeding for a month - and the bees have been active for about half that time on the warmer days. My plan was/is for walk away splits - a full super of brood, with a super on top of that with new foundation (not drawn out), and then a full super of honey on top of that. I have noticed drone comb in several of the hives - so I think they are ready. I might - depending on what the brood looks like when I get in there - make an extra hive in addition to just making 2 for 1 splits. Any advice? Would you put empty supers on the top to begin with - or let them get established?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA

    Default Re: Splitting Hives

    You may find this page from Michel Bush about splitting useful:
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Danbury, CT

    Default Re: Splitting Hives

    You can check if your drones are ripe by squeezing them... their phallus will pop out and if ripe will have a milky white ball of fluid on the underside. If that (spermetha) is absent the drones are not ripe and ready to mate.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Richmond, Virginia, USA

    Default Re: Splitting Hives

    Drone comb is not enough for me to feel good about doing my first splits. From capped to mating for a drone can be longer that it takes a hive to raise a queen and have her go on the maiden flights. So, for me, I wait until I have 'walking drones' in all of my hives before I do the first 'walk away' splits (I am assuming this means you let your bees raise their own queens.)

    I can usually make 3 easy splits out of a medium set-up. All of the regular early Spring warnings apply - fewer bees means it will be more difficult for them to keep the brood warm if you have a bad cold snap. So, the more splits, the higher this risk will be.

    In early Spring, I always give the bees foundation to work if they are raising a queen, but this is usually only a frame or two. In my opinion, idle hands are the devil's work. All of those nurse bees with nothing to do once the queen is capped can be problematic. This might be just a feel good for me. That said, I've never given them a full super of foundation if they are raising a queen. Not sure if it would be the end of them or not, but one of the few golden rules that I have been successful with is to never, ever give the bees more space than they can handle (but, maybe I end up having more swarms than folks who do otherwise - I just know that my success rate is very high with splits.)


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