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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Strafford, MO
    Posts
    30

    Default NUCs vs. Splitting hive

    I am trying to decide which way to go here, make up a few NUCS or split the strong ones in two.

    Last spring finished my second year keeping bees and the first year bringing hives out of winter with success. I thought I was keeping a close watch but didn't realize how fast things could change on a flow.
    I didn't super early enough and had several swarms, most of which I caught. So I did in effect split last spring.

    I was't prepared from an equipment standpoint and it was a hectic time. This year I have constructed extra deeps and mediums with frames to go with them. I have the extra bottom boards and tops too.

    I would like to create some increases of a planned nature and have 5 queens coming from Johnny Thompson the end of April to that end. I have 7 double deep hives, 1 single deep with a medium, and 3 NUCs all doing well so-far. Three of the double deeps are looking considerable stronger than the others but none appear to be in poor shape at all.

    What are peoples thoughts on splitting? I realize its a trade off between increasing the number of colonies and getting a harvest at some point.

    In addition I may need to take some action before the queens actually arrive depending on how the spring weather and the flow come on.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: NUCs vs. Splitting hive

    I would split each production hive in half giving them each a new deep with empty frames. It takes them no time to draw out the frames and there is no reason to think that splitting will cause a loss of honey production. At a minimum 14 smaller hives will produce as much honey as the un-split 7 production hives... Likely they will do better.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: NUCs vs. Splitting hive

    Well it sounds like you've got plenty of larger hives already. You should be able to make splits without harming your honey gathering by simply taking only one or two frames from each double deep hive. Wouldn't be enough to set any single hive back much if at all, but you've got enough big hives going that you could make several nuc's worth of new colonies.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Ash Grove MO. USA.
    Posts
    535

    Default Re: NUCs vs. Splitting hive

    Hey neighbor
    I'm in ash grove, not too far from you.
    Here is what I do and it's worked so far. I raise my own queens but I don't think that's relevant here.

    Any queen that's less than a year old is not prone to swarm. Any queen I have over a year old gets put in a nuc with 3 or 4 frames of bees. At least one need a lot of capped or emerging brood.
    The hive will raise a new one or you can introduce one. Highly unlikely they'll swarm this year.
    The queen in the nuc thinks she has swarmed and will build up really fast usually. If not the bees usually replace her.

    Since I raise my own queens I wont do this until the blackberries bloom. I've raised several earlier but they all failed before fall.

    Since your buying queens the last of April should be fine.

    The three frames of bees in the nuc won't hurt your production in the big hive much if at all.
    Woody Roberts

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Strafford, MO
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: NUCs vs. Splitting hive

    Thanks for everyone's input. I think I'll make up eve split from the really strong hives when the new queens arrive and maybe some do some NUCs with swarm cell frames if I start seeing them before
    the queens are here.

    Also I may move the old queen to a NUC if I have a really strong box and I am seeing drone brood. That would provide a brood break and help mitigate varroa somewhat although the timing needs to be just right.

    I tried a cut-down last year in the end of march since it was warm and the hive in question was booming. Both the split and the original ended up doing fine but we had a cold snap in late April early May and I didn't end up getting honey from either one. I did this based on the fact that March he previous year had days in the 80 and was very warm, **** weather!
    Last edited by MissouriMule; 03-13-2014 at 08:05 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,110

    Default Re: NUCs vs. Splitting hive

    Either way you go it is better than letting them swarm.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Strafford, MO
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: NUCs vs. Splitting hive

    Thanks guys, i ended up getting the queens early and pulled queens from my strong hives with a couple of brood frames and placed in NUCs last Saturday.

    I waited till the next morning and then introduced the caged queens into the double deep hives.

    I checked one yesterday evening and found the queen was released but didn't see her during a quick inspection. I figure in just less than a week she may not be ready to start laying after being caged for a few days.

    I did notice a few queen cells some on the face of the come some near the bottom. I am concerned about whether these are in response in the break in queen laying and the pheromone presence of a laying queen or the fact that the hive is big and might swarm.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Strafford, MO
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: NUCs vs. Splitting hive

    OK All the hives that were re-queened are doing great as are the NUCs with the old queens. I plan on trying to raise some queens from the old queens since that have all over-wintered in my area successfully two years running.

    However I have found myself with extra queens since I had put myself on a local beeks list to get queens but didn't expect to get them for sure so I ordered some from Broke-T just to be sure.

    So you guessed it I have more than I originally planned on, I guess it could be worse. So the next question is what to do?

    I have a couple of hive that wintered and are doing OK but nowhere near as strong as the ones I re-queened and pulled the old queens from into NUCs. One started as an over wintered NUC from year before last and while it has survived it has never impressed, the other is from a swarm that issued from one of my hives last year and just isn't building up very fast at all.

    I also have two hives that I made up last year late as NUCs and over wintered, one of them is going strong the other one not so much. Both were assembled from donor hives an given a Beeweaver queen last August.

    This is the first year I have had queens from Beeweaver so I don't know if they get started rearing brood a little later but since one is already going much better than the other I not sure it matters.

    So I have at least a couple I could re-queen and enough other strong hives I could pull resources from to make up more NUCs but I don't want to do that at the expense of honey if I can avoid it.

    Thoughts?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Default Re: NUCs vs. Splitting hive

    If I find a hive has a lot of queen cells, I do a lot of splits to make use of the cells. Otherwise I tend to prefer strong splits if I want production. A strong split will build up quickly and can be split again or left to produce honey. A weak split often struggles.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Hartford, CT
    Posts
    607

    Default Re: NUCs vs. Splitting hive

    I split a single double deep like 5 times last year in 5 nucs plus the hive.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,753

    Default Re: NUCs vs. Splitting hive

    Quote Originally Posted by MissouriMule View Post
    I think I'll make up eve split from the really strong hives when the new queens arrive and maybe some do some NUCs with swarm cell frames if I start seeing them before
    the queens are here.
    Even splits don't usually stay even unless you work at it. That is my way of determining where the queen is. That being said the queenless hive stores a lot of honey and the hive with the old queen keeps on trucking. If you time it right you can split the hive that made a new queen and successfully got mated and put your bought queen in the queenless half. If the first split didn't succeed in producing a mated queen you can use the bought queen for that.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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