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  1. #1
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    Default How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    I have 2 hives. I want to expand to 4 hives next summer, by doing splits, assuming both hives come out of winter okay.

    May/June is probably the best time to split. If I take a frame of brood (w/nurse bees), a frame of honey, and stick a queen in a medium super (w/built up comb), how likely is that to succeed?

    I'd probably have to buy southern Italian queens, altho I'd really rather a northern Russian (for my area), but my last Russian queen wasn't ready until July. I don't want to wait that long.

    If you're doing a split with a new queen, do you have to slowly introduce her like with a new package?

  2. #2
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    Dec 2009
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    440

    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    I have 2 hives. I want to expand to 4 hives next summer, by doing splits, assuming both hives come out of winter okay.

    May/June is probably the best time to split. If I take a frame of brood (w/nurse bees), a frame of honey, and stick a queen in a medium super (w/built up comb), how likely is that to succeed?
    That's kind of light. If you use three times as much brood and there is a flow on you will have better luck because they will build up faster.

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    I'd probably have to buy southern Italian queens, altho I'd really rather a northern Russian (for my area), but my last Russian queen wasn't ready until July. I don't want to wait that long.
    What if you let them raise their own queen? You could let them get crowded to the point that they build some swarm cells. Then make splits with the swarm cells. Take the queen out of the original hive with a split and leave a couple nice looking cells back in the original box. Don't leave too many swarm cells or you may end up with swarms anyway with the virgin queens. Two should work fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    If you're doing a split with a new queen, do you have to slowly introduce her like with a new package?
    Mated queens are usually introduced "slowly" using a queen cage with candy that the bees will eat, releasing the queen.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Hartford, CT
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    607

    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    This is my 2nd year and my 2 from last year ended up in 5 new ones this year for a total of 7. 2 of which where swarms from the original 2 hives. You should buy Northern queens, I got 2 Carns from BetterBees in upstate NY and their great!!! Carns are good for fast summer buildup in New England.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Washington County, Maine
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    2,874

    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    You up the chances of walk aways working if you place queen cells in them when you make them up. Where do you get queen cells? The most obvious source is any swarm cells that get drawn in your overwintered hives. Then splitting is a form of swarm management - you get to decide how important is having large colonies (population) to make honey and if that trumps making spring splits.

    I encourage you to look localy for mated queens. There are some very good producers in Vermont (that I know of) and there are probably some good ones in New Hampshire that I haven't heard of yet!

    Walk aways are chancy - sometimes you give them a frame of brood three weeks running and for whatever reason they won't make a queen. Rather than doing true walk aways I would purchase mated queens if only to up your odds of developing successful splits. But I don't know your reasons for being a beekeeper. Having bees with at least some local genes may be important to you.

    Good luck!
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Louisville, KY
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    Make your own queens. Swarm cells can be tough to catch. True walk away splits (emergency splits) can be risky if you don't supply enough bees, pollen and open nectar. Also if the split moved away is queenless all of foragers will return the queenright hive lowering the population. If they do make queen cells they may be of low quality, malnourished queens.

    This year I made a booming hive queenless just after the harvesting the mainflow in early June. I split out the queen with a few frames of brood, pollen etc. The original now queenless hive made about 20 nice queen cells. Once capped I split those out into 2 more hives. The splits were put on empty drawn comb with a few extra doner frames of pollen and honey from another hive so they are building up nicely. 1 into 4. We also had really good weather with well timed rain. All of the queens are really nice plump black beauties, one more carnolian looking.

    If you find they don't make a queen, buy a queen or reunite the old queen with queenless colony. Not much lost. At the very lease you will learn alot about bees during this time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    720

    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    The 2 into 7 and 1 into 4 stories are encouraging. The reason I was thinking of just buying queens instead of using swarm/queen cells is because our season is so short up here in NH, and can be iffy. But if I do have any swarm cells in the spring, I'll use those.

    Making queens would be another fun thing to get into.

    Putting lots of new hardware on the Christmas list...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    *oops, duplicate post*

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    I have good luck with walk away splits if they are timed well. Two weeks before the main flow is theoretically the best time. But it varies from hive to hive from year to year.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Fort Wayne, IN
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    940

    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    I primarily use MB's split by box method.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    The Atlantic makes my spring cold. I find splitting a little later works better than as soon possible. Larger is warmer and the 1 makes more bees than divided. Taking the queen to a new spot and leaving the foragers with the qc builders works better.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I have good luck with walk away splits if they are timed well. Two weeks before the main flow is theoretically the best time. But it varies from hive to hive from year to year.
    Is this what you're talking about, from your website? "A walk away split. You take a frame of eggs, two frames of emerging brood and two frames of pollen and honey and put them in a 5 frame nuc, shake in some extra nurse bees (making sure you don't get the queen), put the lid on and walk away. Come back in four weeks and see if the queen is laying."

    So do you have to use a nuc? Because I was hoping to do everything with mediums. Otherwise it's another piece of equipment I have to buy.

    I think I may have to start smaller, and just focus on trying one split at first. Trying to get 2 splits from my 2 overwintered hives might be a stretch, unless buying queens would make it easier on the bees - would need less brood (I think).

    That's why I was thinking of buying queens - easier on everyone.

  12. #12
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    Jun 2012
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    Belews Creek, NC, USA
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    I did 3 walk aways the year. I decided to put them in 5 frame nucs instead of 10 frames and it worked well for me. I don't like to start a hive with low populations and give them all those extra empty frames they will not use immediately. Here we have beetles and wax moths. All that empty real estate will let them get a foothold and ruin the hive. I also like the idea of the girls creating their own queen. All my queens (Russian and Italian) have been great layers and I want to continue their genetics in my new hives. It worked out very well.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    Maybe I could try one walk-away and one split with a purchased queen, and see which works better.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    >Is this what you're talking about, from your website? "A walk away split. You take a frame of eggs, two frames of emerging brood and two frames of pollen and honey and put them in a 5 frame nuc, shake in some extra nurse bees (making sure you don't get the queen), put the lid on and walk away. Come back in four weeks and see if the queen is laying."

    Not necessarily. Anytime you let them raise their own queen, and especially when you don't even bother to find a queen, I would call it a walk away split.

    >So do you have to use a nuc?

    No.

    >Because I was hoping to do everything with mediums. Otherwise it's another piece of equipment I have to buy.

    I run all eight frame mediums and my typical split is by the box sometime between a month before the main flow and during the main flow. I only split if I have four eight frame mediums full of bees, brood and honey. I split by the box by putting down two bottoms, and "dealing" the boxes like cards--one for you and one for you. Then I add an equal number of empty boxes on top (e.g. if there were three full ones, I add three empty ones) and walk away. I usually split the entire yard this way all at once.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    "I only split if I have four eight frame mediums full of bees, brood and honey. I split by the box by putting down two bottoms, and "dealing" the boxes like cards--one for you and one for you. Then I add an equal number of empty boxes on top (e.g. if there were three full ones, I add three empty ones) and walk away. I usually split the entire yard this way all at once."

    Okay, so that's interesting. When you split, you really split, as in 50/50, I take it. So when you do it this way, you don't worry about which hive the queen ends up in, because the ones without queens will make their own? Is that it?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    >When you split, you really split, as in 50/50, I take it.

    Yes.

    > So when you do it this way, you don't worry about which hive the queen ends up in, because the ones without queens will make their own? Is that it?

    Correct. I only pull some frames out if I suspect they might have swarmed and might not have some brood to raise a new queen. Searching the bottoms of the frames is a good way to see if there were open queen cells.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    I will take the liberty of answering the last question on behalf of M Bush. I am certain the answer is "Yes". This mirrors what I did this past spring. I did what I consider a true walk away split. Some background for you OP. I am 3rd year beek, last summer I had two hives. Neither did real well, one hive superceded about end of July. That queen went bonkers and built up the hive and stores. I pulled only 3 frames of honey from it and left 90% for the winter as I was paranoid the hive would die. It ended up as M. Bush said a 4 story 8 frame medium hive going into winter. It went into winter fairly strong with good stores. This spring it was BOOMING. I had ended up adding 5 stories by later may/early June as I recall (or 6 boxes I forget) I said... hmm I want a copy of those genetics. So not having a ton of time or experience, I did exactly the "walk away method". One brood box for this, one for that. I had 2 brood boxes for the new split and 3 for the existing hive I think was the configuration, thinking that returning foragers would occupy more space than the new split. No queen cells, no idea which hive had the queen, no idea if a queen would emerge. I really did figure there would be nothing lost. If no queen, I would recombine with the original OR combine with some packages I had coming. I just did not want to lose the genetics by some fluke or mistake on my part. After all, it was mostly a local queen, wintered well and doing in my limited experience, really well. The split happened to be queenless one and I looked for eggs/queen cells. Never did see a queen cell but about a month into it toward mid July, I did start to see some capped cells. It was slow taking off. I didnt think it was queenright at first as I saw capped drone brood first and no queen cell. I was convinced I had a laying worker and was ready to shake out. I added a frame of swarm cells and 2-3 other frames of egs/brood from the original hive though by this time it was 6-7 mediums. (That queen and hive is amazing to me!!) This I figured would raise a queen but next look there were no cells, and capped worker brood. How the ...?? Somehow I have a queen. I harvested 2 medium honey supers from the split about 3 weeks ago. It didnt take off like crazy until last look. Capped brood everywhere. I guess the queen just took some time and when she was ready to go, we were in a dearth.

    Hope this long story is helpful and interesting to OP and those on the thread. If you really enjoy the bees and this sort of thing, I for one encourage you make a split! Raise your own queen, especially if you have the Russian genetics you want.. One thing I think is that I left the hive plenty of stores for winter and my opinion is that the spring build up reflected this. The queen knew she had stores and got that hive ready and going for the flow.
    I would consider this if I were you. Leave more for the hive if you can, if you plan to split. It may be worth it. Maybe someone with more experience can chime in on this idea, but I think it is an idea worth considering.

    Good luck!!

  18. #18
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    Dan, your story pretty much is the same as mine. This is my 2nd year and I had 2 really weak hives coming out of last winter, which I combined and requeened, and this year I'm paranoid they won't make it thru winter (2 hives now), so I am not taking any honey. Crossing my fingers mine will come thru this winter strong like yours did, so I can split, just the way you did.

    Really looking forward to splitting. I prefer mutts for dogs, and I think feral queens would probably be hardier. Just my opinion.

    I hadn't thought about going 50/50 when splitting tho, that sounds super easy.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    Newbee....Early mite control and food are the keys to getting through winter.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Brookville, PA
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    Default Re: How chancy is a walk away split w/queen? (thinking about next spring)

    In the past two years, I've done 3 splits. I only use full size hive bodies, so the very first split I did was on a hive that had 3 hive bodies on it. I took the top two hive bodies off and put them on top of a bottom board. I left the bottom hive body where it was and added an new hive with frames on top of it. Whichever hive was queenless, made their own queen.


    This year, instead of just splitting boxes, I got into the hives and dealt out frames. I looked for the queen but couldn't find her, and whichever hive was queenless made their own queen.

    I have never bought queens as I just don't see the extra expense worth it (unless you are looking for a specific kind of genetics or breed).

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