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  1. #1
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    Default Tactics for making splits

    I see interest in how to go about making splits so I figured I would start a new thread to discuss just that.
    Salty asked me how I make my splits.

    So there are many different ways to make NUC splits. I will discuss 2 that I have successfully done and will also add in other thoughts based on my experience. It would be great to have others who successfully make splits chime in as well.

    Basic understanding of making splits is everything is moved out of splitting yard once splitting is done. I move everything atleast 3 miles away. Well except for 2 yards and I am not going to explain why.

    Method 1: Ruthlessly open up a hive and pull out all brood resting it on the hive next to me on end. I mean ALL the brood. I try to make sure all split boxes have 1 frame capped and 1 frame of open brood on it. So bottom box will have 2 frames brood, 2 frames food (1 pollen, 1 honey). The second box will be stacked on top and the same will happen with the second box. The third box will be placed on top of second box with same brood, food configuration. I forgot to mention all brood goes dead center of box! I will continue until all brood is back in the stack of boxes. Once this is done I will allow the bees to equalize inside the boxes. Meaning your nurse bees and forages will distribute themselves sort of evenly. That evening or next evening we place all the stacked boxes on a pallet so everything is 1 high. Then immediately move them to outyard/s. Next morning we cell all new splits.

    ***Note*** I never once mentioned about looking or finding the queen. I don't care. Everything gets a cell. Its similar to what Jim described when mentioning checking NUCs at 3 weeks and fixing those that are questionable. Again I dont care.
    You can tell where your parent queens are once you check back. It will be the box that has 9 1/2 frames of brood in it.

    Method 2: Shake all bees off brood and place all brood above a queen excluder for 24 to 48 hours. This will allow nurse bees to come up on brood and keep parent colony alive. I generally leave a frame of eggs or so in parent colony but not terribly concerned, if she is worth her salt she will mae up for it. Pull two frames bees and brood and place in seperate box (NUC box or full size box matters none) on a pallet in the evening. Once all pallets are filled move them to outyard/s, that night. Next morning add queen cells.

    Thoughts: bees drift like alot when you tear them apart. Folks doing this for a living know that drifting means lots of foragers in a few colonies which also means those takes are at about a 30 - 50% range due to all the p^ssed off bees. Acceptance levels take a hit. So thought of taking maybe 12 pallets of doubles to outyard and making all splits as similar as above and setting them down with the bees that are on the frames and thats it. Nurse bees will be on the brood and I am thinking this will alleviate some of the mass drifting of foragers.

  2. #2
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    syracuse n.y.
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Quote Originally Posted by BMAC View Post

    ***Note*** I never once mentioned about looking or finding the queen. I don't care. Everything gets a cell. Its similar to what Jim described when mentioning checking NUCs at 3 weeks and fixing those that are questionable. Again I dont care.
    You can tell where your parent queens are once you check back. It will be the box that has 9 1/2 frames of brood in it.

    Method 2: Shake all bees off brood and place all brood above a queen excluder for 24 to 48 hours. This will allow nurse bees to come up on brood and keep parent colony alive. I generally leave a frame of eggs or so in parent colony but not terribly concerned, if she is worth her salt she will mae up for it. Pull two frames bees and brood and place in seperate box (NUC box or full size box matters none) on a pallet in the evening. Once all pallets are filled move them to outyard/s, that night. Next morning add queen cells.

    Thoughts: bees drift like alot when you tear them apart. Folks doing this for a living know that drifting means lots of foragers in a few colonies which also means those takes are at about a 30 - 50% range due to all the p^ssed off bees. Acceptance levels take a hit. So thought of taking maybe 12 pallets of doubles to outyard and making all splits as similar as above and setting them down with the bees that are on the frames and thats it. Nurse bees will be on the brood and I am thinking this will alleviate some of the mass drifting of foragers.
    I use option 2. don't you find using option 1, that the hives that end up with the queen in it, also end up with all the foragers in it as they can find the queen in the yard?
    also I assume you do this while in S.C.? So people in the North because you are starting later may want to put more brood in the split/nuc early in the season.

    also because I need to track my queens I only use capped brood as I want to know if the queen cell fails, I can always put in a new cell but don't want them raising their own queen as I only get this aggresive on hive I don't like the genetics on.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Its an excellent point that I am doing this in the south. I still make splits in Schoharie county after I get them home but the only expectations I have from them are solid heavy hives ready for wintering here until mid December before they become snow birds and head down south. Sometimes I get honey from them sometimes NOT! However the ones I make in the south go thru a complete honey flow down there before landing their little feet here to work.

    I often wondered if the foragers find and stick with the queen. It appears to me NOT the case. More times than not I have seen them stick to the bottom box on the pallet. I don't mind splitting either way. option 1 is down and dirty. Option 2 is more work intensive as you have to shake bees and use queen excluders. That also means you need to own more equipment.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    BMAC, this is just what I need, more choices on how to make splits really, I am happy you started this thread, hopefully many will chime in like you say and give us their methods, as I'm sure there are many good ones out there, just need to find one that works best for you. So far I like your "ruthless method". John

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Exactly. Figure out which path best suits your operation.

  6. #6
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    Apr 2012
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    Wayensboro, Virginia, USA
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    BMAC, making sure you have mostly nurse bees when making up splits to insure a higher success rate makes very good sense but I would like to know why that is not important when putting queen cells into mating nucs, I see a lot of people split a deep 4 ways to use as a mating nuc and they are often taking the hives laying queen after she is mated and laying well and replacing her with a queen cell.Does the small size of these hives prevent the foragers from tearing down the new cell when introduced?

  7. #7
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    Mar 2009
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    Green,Wisconsin,USA
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Too complicated. I take an overwintered colony. I take one frame sealed brood, one frame eggs, one frame pollen, one frame honey, one open frame. Take a fair amount of nurse bees. Put them in a nuc. Move it to a new yard. No three mile rule. Wait three weeks and check. Old hive won't swarm, new hive usually produces a new queen. It ain't rocket science.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    The methods that Brian described in the op will most certainly work and is quite commonly done. Its a bit more turmoil than I like in a yard but sometimes nucing involves a lot of turmoil no matter how you do it. Of course we do things somewhat differently (I can hear the surprised gasps all around). In my mind a perfect scenario is never handling a frame more than once. If its a double I split it before even pulling a frame and usually look downstairs first. (more surprised gasps and someone in the back whispers "but the queen is usually upstairs") Don't worry I'm just taking a quick inventory, if there isnt much there I will begin setting it up for a nuc and then begin dropping the good stuff into the lower box, starting from one side frame feeder, honey, brood, open brood, brood, brood, (if there is a lot) extra bees, then fill it out with empties. If there is brood downstairs I leave some making sure there is at least some open brood and usually honey needs to be dropped down from the upper box, and ration out pollen frames equally. I spend 10 seconds or so looking at each frame of brood for the queen as I progress through both boxes. When I find her (warning graphic language) I kill her. I keep an empty box near if there is extra brood to begin making a third nuc up. Set the new nucs onto a pallet and lid them always keeping an eye out for robbing. We keep a forklift handy and at the first sign of drifting we just start moving pallets around to neutralize it. After the yard is done we have lots of 1 high pallets of bees a few with queens that we miss but it isnt usually more than 10%, meaning typically something under 5% have queens. That evening or early the next morning we move everything out to a new yard and let them fly for a full day. When the new yard is set out it should ideally look like the person running the forklift should be ticketed for a DUI. Scatter and alternate angles as much as possible and put in a few "firebreaks" if there is room. Anything but lined up neatly in a row. The next morning we even up bee populations as needed, sometimes by simply trading places and also by pulling frames of bees out to bolster the hives that are short of bees and then install a queen cell down on the brood to prevent chilling on the occasional cold night. On checkbacks 3 weeks later those missed queens are usually wall to wall brood and we use that to rebuild the misses. We also occasionally make up additional nucs in split boxes and transfer those into some of the "misses" as well. So there ya go, a bit of work for sure and a few more steps than most take but worth the extra work in my opinion.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  9. #9
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    Feb 2012
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    DesAllemands, Lousiana
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    I just take two frames of brood one frame of honey/pollen and drop in two new frames on the outside. Then i shake in one or two frames of bees if i'm keeping them in the same yard. Pop in a queen cell or let them raise there own and that's it. Fast and simple.
    I do this before the main flow and split those nucs half way through the flow for my overwintered nucs. Your nuc count can grow very fast this way.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Bee View Post
    Does the small size of these hives prevent the foragers from tearing down the new cell when introduced?
    Anyone that runs mating NUCs can tell you its challenging and the those who run large scaled mating yards have mastered that Micro beekeeping. I have found the major problem with mating NUCs is when setting them up with a handful of bees. These bees generally immediately reject the queen cell and tend to abscond. IE you will notice or atleast I have noticed the bees will migrate into a few of the NUCs so you will have more bees than ever thought in the mating NUCs and over half your other NUCs will be completely empty. This is the main reason folks on large scale operations have the mini mating nuc boxes with a screen over the entrance to force the bees to stay inside for a few days.

    When I make up my mating NUCs I actually created specialty supers and place on my normal colonies. Queens put eggs in those frames and shortly its full of the nurse bees I am looking forward to working. Then I take out the those frames and place into my mating NUCs. Move the mating NUCs to my outyards (this outyards is dedicated to mating NUCs only) and cell them.

    I like Jims approach. Lynn Barton and I spoke a bit on doing something similar. The exception being we discussed moving the bees to the new location that morning in the doubles, then split them all down. I also like the idea of moving the drifty pallets with the lift. I suppose fogging them with water also helps. Preventing robbing is not to be disregarded as Jim pointed out. We keep a very close eye on robbing as this increases tensions in the yard for both bees and humans.

    This year I will keep all my parent colonies for an attempt to run for honey after splits are made. The parents should recover fine. I am a fan of killing old queens as well. They swarm much more and peter out when least wanted. Oh well that is all part of what we love to do, maybe I will cell those one at a time once back here.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    I tested Mel's OTS method last year on a few hives for the fun of it. I see this a fine way for a small timer to make some splits with no queen yard or cells, and no searching for the queen. It's probably too much work for the big guys.

    Shook and moved all but 1 1/2 frame of brood above an excluder.
    Moved bottom box with queen 10 feet away the next day. Field bees returned to old hive, leaving the old queen with bees as a nuc which built back up well.
    OTS notched every frame that had ready larva at this time. Mel says to make 2 notches per frame. I made one notch per frame to encourage more frames of qc's. Mel also uses his hive tool to crush the bottom of a row of cells. I have found using the corner of my hive tool to break the bottom wall of a single cell, then press down at 45 degree angle, allows me much more control and acceptance.
    A week later, there were queen cells on several of the notched frames. Every frame with a qc was used to start a nuc mixed with brood and bees from other hives moved to a new yard. I left a very weak split for the hive in the old location since it still had the foragers. It built back up well.

    Just my 2 cents, OTS is pretty slick. Mike Bush talks about "the panacea of beekeeping", giving a frame of brood to a "possibly queenless" hive. I OTS that frame. It changes their behavior toward that cell and gives them a way to make a straight cell in the middle of a comb.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Don, good to hear the OTS worked for you, first time I have read that anyone actually tried it and gave their results. I have watched Mel's video a few times and seems to me the man really understands bees and their behavior. I will have to give it a try myself sometime. John

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    We tried (as an experiment) a split by taking three frames of eggs, brood ,etc. with nurse bees from one hive and three frames eggs, brood, stores, with nurse bees from another hive. We placed them into a ten frame medium and made sure there was no queen in the new hive and added four frames of foundation to the outsides of the center frames.
    This was all placed within 20 yards of the original hive.
    Needless to say it worked well. We added (paper combine) some bees from a queenless cutout about a month after the split.
    Again, worked out to be a very strong hive, with good genetics.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Quote Originally Posted by BMAC View Post
    We keep a very close eye on robbing as this increases tensions in the yard for both bees and humans.

    This year I will keep all my parent colonies for an attempt to run for honey after splits are made.
    Tensions in the beeyard related to robbing? No kidding. If robbing gets too bad we first revert to a form of what you originally talked about which is setting up and stacking up your nucs together then setting them down at the end of the day, the other option is the boss just throws up his hands and says "shut it down guys lets go to another yard and finish this one tomorrow". That works well too, its amazing the difference a day can make. This I know for sure: If you put your cells in immediately when the yard is still alive with robbing and unsettled bees in the air then don't expect good cell acceptance. Our biggest messes always involved lots of turmoil while splitting. One big problem you have with leaving hives in the yard and putting cells in too soon is those few old queens really attract bees and that means some nucs end up really short.
    On the subject of trying to get an immediate honey crop. I would suggest making them up about 5 combs just prior to a flow and putting a super on as you are putting in the cells. Feed demands are low in those next few weeks without a laying queen, you might be shocked at how much honey a nuc that size could make, we haven't tried it but it is something we are thinking about. The only consideration there is that means no feeding so you better be pretty sure your flow is going to be a good one and that its going to kick in on schedule.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Jim, when you talked about how much honey a newly make up 5 comb nuc can make, it reminded me of the cut down splits I did last year on a bunch of my hives, it was the first time I had tried it. It was unbelieveable to me how much honey they made in a short time without any mouths to feed. John

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    Don, good to hear the OTS worked for you, first time I have read that anyone actually tried it and gave their results. I have watched Mel's video a few times and seems to me the man really understands bees and their behavior. I will have to give it a try myself sometime. John
    I didn't get the kind of production Mel charts out, partly due to my not having enough drawn comb. My splits got 4 drawn frames, then foundationless frames.

    Still, OTS is simple, reliable once you get the knack, and provides free queens cell that look as nice as any. Since I'm using foundationless, you know I value free ;-) I plan on using this for 60 new splits this spring. More if I can make enough parts!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    What makes a good plan bad really helps.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Didn't see it as a bad, just takes time to draw comb, whether foundation or foundationless. I wanted to clarify what I did, that I was pleased with it, and found room for improvement.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Hi there!!! Would someone give us newbies step by step instructions for splits. This will be my first Spring and first honey flow, etc. I am very limited on money, so want to hopefully raise my own queens. Please Start with #1 and so on and I can print it out and take it home. Thanks so much in advance.

    Simple and sweet way, I should add. I am all about getting it done practically.
    "Live it like you stole it"

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Tactics for making splits

    Quote Originally Posted by Pamela White View Post
    Hi there!!! Would someone give us newbies step by step instructions for splits. This will be my first Spring and first honey flow, etc. I am very limited on money, so want to hopefully raise my own queens. Please Start with #1 and so on and I can print it out and take it home. Thanks so much in advance.

    Simple and sweet way, I should add. I am all about getting it done practically.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm

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