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  1. #1
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    Mar 2013
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    Easley, SC, USA
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    Default Spliting a pacage of bees

    I new to beekeeping if you get a 3lb pacage of bees can you split it into two nucs are would that make them to weak?

  2. #2
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    Jan 2013
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    longton, kansas USA
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    queen. no brood yet to form a new queen. non established. not enough bees. better off building the package into a strong colony and MAYBE being able to split by the end of the spring...early summer. but i recommend overwintering that package before any thing else. any chance on getting nucs in your area instead of a package ?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    Because the bees die everyday, there isn't enough young worker bees to replace the old and misfortune ones.
    It takes one month to make new worker bees to replace the old one.
    If you are lucky with the right conditions and lots of forages they will build up very fast. Once they are
    established then you can make a split later on. Splitting them up will make them really weak in case weather
    conditions do not favor them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Issaquah,WA,USA
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    Bad Idea. Put the package into the Nuc's is just fine. But, splitting them is a bad idea. If you want to go that route get a 4lb package and split that and maybe you have a chance. But, I would just do the 3# and let them go. Dont fuss with what has been working for years.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Hartford, CT
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    If you had 2 frames of drawn comb with larvae and workers then you could. Typically you can split a strong nuc into 2 nucs easy.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Danbury, CT
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    I have known a lot of people over the years who buy 1 package and 2 queens and do exactly as you suggest. If you actually weigh a good 3 lb pack without the syrup and subtract for the weight of the wood and screen they usually run closer to 4.5-5 lbs anyway. The excess is often put in to make up for losses in shipping. As long as the packs are not being shipped by the USPS there should be rather few losses.

    Personally I would be less inclined to do it in a northern climate, but you should be fine in SC. And it would be better if you started with drawn comb like suggested above. IMO the chances of them surviving is no less than if you didn't split them in half. You will likely be feeding syrup to both halves regardless.

    I would like to figure out who measured the average life of a summer worker bee and how they did it? We throw this 6 week figure around a lot without any citation. A new package isn't doing much in foraging because we feed for the first few weeks and the bulk of a package is all very young nurse bees.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    Stronger is better of course, and I don't have any experience splitting a package like that, but I have seen some really tiny mating nucs grow like crazy once they had a laying queen and the conditions are right.

    Why are so many people compelled to say "I have no interest in doing this, therefore it will not work"? Why not just say you don't know?
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  8. #8
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    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    I have known a lot of people over the years who buy 1 package and 2 queens and do exactly as you suggest. If you actually weigh a good 3 lb pack without the syrup and subtract for the weight of the wood and screen they usually run closer to 4.5-5 lbs anyway. The excess is often put in to make up for losses in shipping. As long as the packs are not being shipped by the USPS there should be rather few losses.

    Personally I would be less inclined to do it in a northern climate, but you should be fine in SC. And it would be better if you started with drawn comb like suggested above. IMO the chances of them surviving is no less than if you didn't split them in half. You will likely be feeding syrup to both halves regardless.

    I would like to figure out who measured the average life of a summer worker bee and how they did it? We throw this 6 week figure around a lot without any citation. A new package isn't doing much in foraging because we feed for the first few weeks and the bulk of a package is all very young nurse bees.


    Blue grass is 100 Right. I do it every year and it works fine. best if they already have drawn comb though. If there Bare nucs the will not have any success in drawing comb fast enough to do well.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Anderson, SC
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    25

    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    So if you just install your package in your hive and let the queen release and let it build up as one hive, when is a good time to split into another hive? I've heard by the end of June you should be fine if you installed the package the 1st of April (that gives about two months). Also, is it a good or bad idea to wait until after the flow in July and harvest any honey that you may get and THEN make the split? Or will that make the hives too weak going into the fall/winter?

  10. #10
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    May 2009
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    It depends on how your wintering, on feed or honey. Usualy if you have a new package with no comb, a GOOD split will be tough to do first year. If you feed constantly you can probably get away with it, but that means no honey for you. I wouldn't ever split until I had 8 good frames of bees. any less and your going to be wintering small nucs size hives.

  11. #11
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    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    Comb is really the main issue for first year bee keepers. You could split one package 4 ways (or more) during the season if conditions are good and you play your cards right. But when September rolls around if you only have enough comb for one or two hives you would just have to combine them. I'm not saying that you should do that btw. But I have seen a good package draw out 20 deep frames in one season - plenty for 4 good nucs. Also, two queens will usually lay more eggs than one, and I would rather go into winter with 2 good small hives than only one. Just my opinion.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Anderson, SC
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    So, in your opinion, make a split this year and go in with two for the winter. Would you split before any honey crop, thus forfitting the harvest this year for the bees, or would you split right after any honey is harvested and let them begin to make stores for the winter starting in like the beginning of August? I feel like I should probably split before, so they have more time to build up each hive going in to winter, but the selfishness in me wants to keep any honey I can for myself. I had two hives last year, both absconded in the beginning of July. One package last year was very strong, the other had multiple issues, and I eventually ordered a new queen and made a split, but when that queen got in she was dead so I got another one and introduced her to the hive and so I was constantly in and out of my hives (some because I had to, some because it was my first year and I didn't give them the space they needed). Whatever the reason, both hives ended up taking off about two and a half months into it. So I have all the equipment for two hives, and I get my new package this Saturday. I was just looking for some more opinions as far as split/no split, when to split, etc. I want to split this year, and go into winter with two even if they're smaller hives. Just didn't really know when to do so in order to give them the best chance. Michael Bush's site says to split whenever you have enough frames for 5 brood frames and 3 honey/pollen frames for each hive. Which I think is what gmcharlie was referring to. Also, when you split would you buy a mated queen and introduce her in or just let them raise their own?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    You have to consider all of that depending on your own priorities. Whatever way you go harvest your honey as soon as possible, then equalize the two hives, and manage them to keep them equal to minimize robbing, and pump as much nutrition into both hives as you can without making them swarm - until the end of the season.

    If it was me I would probably start a small nuc ASAP along with the main hive so it could build up on the flow, and cause you have options with 2 that you dont have with 1. I would still equalize and feed as soon as I pulled honey. That's just me though.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    Splitting like what is being discussed in this thread can be successful if 1) the beekeeper is in the right geographic area and 2) has enough resources (both drawn comb and beekeeping experience) to make the split work. Rarely would a new beekeeper be successful with such a plan. In my area it would get zero consideration. 3lb Packages are sold as starter colonies for a reason - experience says that's the number of bees needed to start a new colony.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  15. #15
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    Mar 2013
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    Easley, SC, USA
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    thanks for help.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    Somewhere there is a happy balance that is the perfect worker bee/queen ratio. I haven't quite figured out where it is, but it would harmonize the laying and rearing ability of the started colony. At some point you have too many nurse bees and it would be more beneficial to divert the excess to a second queen. The same is true for two few nurse bees where the laying ability of the queen is wasted.

    At one time all packages were 2# only... now some producers are going to 4# packs and I have heard of people buying 2 3# packs and 1 queen and doing a combine from the start.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  17. #17
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    Jan 2013
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    longton, kansas USA
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    I have heard of people buying 2 3# packs and 1 queen and doing a combine from the start.


    strong colonies are always better than MORE colonies....especially in a colonies first year. there is something that needs to be said about a good overwintered colony and queen. just my opinion and im only in my 3rd year beekeeping. but we have had a colony and queen that has lasted that long and she is a laying machine. although with the snows we have just had we are very afraid that the 3 hives we have right now are dead


    say some prayers for us peeps because we really wanted to start breeding off of the great survivor queen we have had.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    In my opinion combining two 3# packages is likely not added advantage. An established colony has a nice balance of bees in various stages of life. A package is extremely nurse bee heavy in general. So there comes a point that you have more nurse bees than the queen can keep busy. That over abundance of bees to queen ratio may lead to some ideas that it might be time to replace the queen because she isn't laying fast enough. And possibly may be part of the reason that many 3# packs actually supersede early on.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    Tommysnare - "strong colonies are Always better than more...". Unless you have three and they all die? Or only one dies, but you only had one to begin with? It's good to have a backup in my opinion. Also, a nuc can be a strong colony - don't confuse big with strong.

    Besides which if you use your head you can split off a nuc without ANY long term impact on the parent hive.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    Default Re: Spliting a pacage of bees

    Andrew Dewey has it right, where you are. I would add, what kind of a year follows.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

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