Walk-away split question
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Default Walk-away split question

    I want to split my hive to help prevent swarming next spring.

    If I make a walkaway split with a frame or two of eggs and brood (with nurse bees on the frame(s) but no queen), a frame of honey, and a frame with pollen in a nuc, I have a couple of questions:

    1. How many frames of nurse bees should be shaken into the nuc?
    2. Will the split work if the new nuc is kept in the same location as the hive the split was made from?

    I have only one hive and I have no other place to put the split.

    Thanks for your advise!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    You need enough nurse bees to cover the frames. What I do instead of shake nurse bees is this:
    1) Pull the frames of eggs/brood from the donor hive and shake off all the bees. Replace with empty frames.
    2) Put frames of eggs/brood in an empty box.
    3) Put a queen excluder on top of the donor hive.
    4) Set the box with your frames of eggs/brood on top of the excluder. Cover.
    5) Go do something else for an hour or two.
    6) When you return, the frames of brood and eggs should be covered with enough nurse bees.
    What I like about making splits this way is that there is no need for me to find the queen.

    Since these nurse bees haven't been outside the hive, there's no need to move the split any distance.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    hinesville ga usa
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    I have did the splits the way you describe, but found it only delayed swarming in a strong hive. If the hive is really strong and has the resources you could do two of them and have three hives and prevent the original hive from swarming. To be on the safe side since you only have the one hive I suggest doing an equal divide, leave them side by side, go back in four or five days and by inspecting for uncapped larvae decide which has the queen, then move the queen right as far away as your limited space will allow, this leaves the one that needs to make a queen with all the foragers, the queen right hive will make new bees while forcing some of the nurse bees to become foragers. I rarely loose a colony this way. An equal divide is just like dealing cards when deciding which gets which frame, it's easy, fast, and about as safe a split that you can do. JMO

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    Thank you indypartridge, sounds like a good, safe ,method.

  6. #5
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    Apr 2014
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    This sounds like a good plan for me, stan.vick, then maybe I could sell the extra hive. I really don't have room for a permanent second hive. Thank you!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    10,079

    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    here's a good reference for splits:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm

    if you scroll down you will find 'cut down splits'.

    that's the one i like to use. my variation is to take the queen and three frames from the donor hive. i try to get a good mix of honey, pollen, and brood on the frames. sometimes i'll shake some bees in if needed to end up with enough to cover most of the three frames.

    this leaves the donor hive nice and strong and it will have the resources to make a good queen. a smaller queenless split doesnt' always produce a good queen. the queenright split will take off nicely because of the flow.

    so far i haven't had a donor hive swarm after doing this. i know i am just before the main nectar flow here by watching for the tulip poplar blooms getting ready to open.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  8. #7
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    May 2014
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    Charlotte, NC
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    1,694

    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    Quote Originally Posted by indypartridge View Post
    You need enough nurse bees to cover the frames. What I do instead of shake nurse bees is this:
    1) Pull the frames of eggs/brood from the donor hive and shake off all the bees. Replace with empty frames.
    2) Put frames of eggs/brood in an empty box.
    3) Put a queen excluder on top of the donor hive.
    4) Set the box with your frames of eggs/brood on top of the excluder. Cover.
    5) Go do something else for an hour or two.
    6) When you return, the frames of brood and eggs should be covered with enough nurse bees.
    What I like about making splits this way is that there is no need for me to find the queen.

    Since these nurse bees haven't been outside the hive, there's no need to move the split any distance.
    This is so simple. I love it. Just for insurance (not as a challenge); how long have you been keeping bees?

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    Quote Originally Posted by beewitched View Post
    I want to split my hive to help prevent swarming next spring.
    I'm just courious....are you doing that split now or in early spring??
    3 hives/2 nucs

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    Quote Originally Posted by Santa Caras View Post
    I'm just curious....are you doing that split now or in early spring??
    I'm planning for next spring

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    Quote Originally Posted by beewitched View Post
    This sounds like a good plan for me, stan.vick, then maybe I could sell the extra hive. I really don't have room for a permanent second hive. Thank you!
    If you only want to reduce the colony to prevent swarming, and not have to deal with a second hive, why not call your local bee club and have one of them come do the "dirty work" for you. If I was in your area, I'd be happy to remove part of the colony to reduce the numbers for you. (In fact, that's what I have told the lady down the street whose top bar hive I set up for her in July. She only ever wants 1 hive, so I will help her get rid of the extra bees. And if she runs into trouble where she needs brood/etc to help out her hive, I will donate some back to her).

    The splits I like to do are in late June/early July to give my main hives a brood break to help with the mites. I pull the queen and brood over to the nuc with a few bars of stores and capped brood. Then I let the main hive make the new queen. All 3 hives re-queened successfully this year. But you don't want to use this method in spring, otherwise you would impact your honey gathering potential.

  12. #11
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    Park City Ky
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    If you are going to do a "walk-away" there is no need to shake the bees off. (In fact, I do not like to shake or brush frames that have uncapped brood on them. Can damage the eggs). Just take 2 to 3 frames of brood that is well covered with bees, (Make sure some uncapped brood is in both boxes), then go over and take two more frames that have pollen and honey and some bees, Then put 5 frames of foundation in the original hive, cover both, and walk away. The queen will be in one of them. Which ever one of them starts building queen cells will be the queenless hive. Monitor this one closely, to insure that any virgin queens emerge, and return, to insure that your hive does not go queenless.

    If the queen is in the original hive, they will have 5 frames to draw and help reduce the urge to swarm. If you do your split during a honey flow, at the same time you make your split, add a shallow honey super above the original hive. By the time the bees draw the 5 frames and the queen starts laying in them, the workers will have filled the honey super with nectar and you will not have to use a queen excluder to keep the queen out of your honey supers. She will rarely cross honey to lay eggs. Leave that super on all Summer to act as your excluder. Remove at the end of the season.

    If the queen is in the 5 frame split, get ready to put in big box (8 or 10 framer) and add frames.

    cchoganjr

  13. #12
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    Thumbs Up Re: Walk-away split question

    Wow, thanks to all of you guys & gals for taking the time and effort to give me your suggestions! Now, I have to choose which fits my situation best. Fortunately I've a little time since I'm making plans for next spring. Thanks again!

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    If you have very little room there is a method of making a split and putting it above the existing hive. google Snelgrove board or Snelgrove method. It combines swarm control with raising replacement queens or several nucs or running as a 2 queen hive. I did one on a hive this past summer. Made a few extra queens which I used to requeen other hives, then I combined the upper box back with the mother hive this fall. That put a new queen in the original hive as well. It probably decreased honey production a bit but I still got at least 2 mediums off it. You can buy the division board or easily make it. I plan to run several hives this way next summer.
    Frank

  15. #14
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    Aug 2005
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    This method sounds as easy as for the most part it is, but there are some bee behavior things that differ from what has been posted.

    Most importantly some bees as young as 4 days old do leave the hive for orientation flights. This seems to vary much depending upon things like race and location.

    Other matters include a presumption of adequate drone numbers locally for mating, and the assumption that doing a walk away split will stop swarming.

    That said the walk away type split is a great method for increasing hive counts while weakening colonies in hopes that they won't swarm. I operate on the assumption that once a colony makes queen cells it is extremely hard to keep them from swarming. I am sometimes able to accomplish swarm prevention by moving frames with queen cells into the split off colony that needs to make a queen. My experience has been if I leave a queen cell behind it is still going to hatch, the colony will swarm, just with fewer bees.

    There are several methods to making up splits that will make their own queen and how they are made up will depend largely on local practice and tradition. Here if I remove bees from a colony it is always into a nuc box (4 or 5 deep frames) so if I am splitting a colony that over wintered in two deeps I'd usually end up with the parent colony and two nucs.

    I hear what Cleo says about not shaking bees off of open frames of brood - I do add extra what I believe are nurse bees to each nuc that I make up, as I believe some of them will return to the parent colony.

    There are lots of different methods and they will most likely all work.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    Mr Dewey... I should have also said to add extra bees to the nuc you are making up, especially if leaving the nuc in the same bee yard.

    When I make my nucs up in the Spring and early Summer, I have the luxury of moving them about 3 1/2 miles to another yard that I call the bee nursery. (They stay there until the new queen begins to lay, then they are moved back to the main yard for customer pickup.) I still shake a few extra bees into them, but, if you are leaving them close proximity to the parent colony you will have some bees go back, so yes, give the nuc extra bees.

    I would like to ask a question. Your post states, quote, "if I leave queen cells behind it is still going to hatch, the colony will swarm, just with fewer bees"unquote,

    I can't say that I find that. But, then again, I split my brood stock so often that they normally do not reach numbers sufficient to swarm, and if I find queen cells, I normally take the queen and 5 frames and move 3+ miles to my bee nursery. I don't think the parent hives normally go ahead and swarm, rather they treat the queens that emerge as a normal supercedure. By giving the parent colony, (which is left queenless,) 5 frames of foundation, the colony has room to draw comb and make cells for the new queen to lay in. I do think if the queen cells are capped, then there is little you can do to keep them from swarming, but, if they are not capped, I haven't observed that they go ahead and swarm. Please give me your thoughts on this. Anyone else with thoughts on this, also please chime in.

    One additional thought. The reason I take the old queen is, some people ask for an overwintered queen in their nuc. I put her in the nuc, mark as overwintered queen, then let the parent colony make the new queen. The overwintered queen nucs will normally take off much faster than those with an introduced new queen.

    cchoganjr

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    Quote Originally Posted by Cleo C. Hogan Jr View Post
    Mr Dewey... I would like to ask a question. Your post states, quote, "if I leave queen cells behind it is still going to hatch, the colony will swarm, just with fewer bees"unquote,

    I can't say that I find that. But, then again, I split my brood stock so often that they normally do not reach numbers sufficient to swarm, and if I find queen cells, I normally take the queen and 5 frames and move 3+ miles to my bee nursery. I don't think the parent hives normally go ahead and swarm, rather they treat the queens that emerge as a normal supercedure. By giving the parent colony, (which is left queenless,) 5 frames of foundation, the colony has room to draw comb and make cells for the new queen to lay in. I do think if the queen cells are capped, then there is little you can do to keep them from swarming, but, if they are not capped, I haven't observed that they go ahead and swarm. Please give me your thoughts on this.
    Mr. Dewey was my now deceased father - I prefer to go by Andrew - but I appreciate your use of the title, especially if you were offended by my referring to you as Cleo.

    Spring splits are wonderful fun to talk about especially on days when it looks like it is going to rain and I've got a fire going in the wood stove.

    What to do with the old queens is a perpetual question. Not having customers who want overwintered queens and not having a convenient yard to move splits into I typically leave the old queen right where she was in the parent split. I am loath to cut any capped queen cells that I leave in the parent colony unless I have seen the queen. The last thing I want is a colony without a queen and the easy means of making one. Yes I know they can make a queen from eggs but being an impatient sort I want the parent colony to grow ASAP. Why would I leave capped queen cells? Primarily for insurance in those instances when I have not laid eyes on the queen and don't know with certainty where she is.

    I haven't been paying much attention to uncapped queen cells though I will this spring.

    The other difference between our practices is that I by and large replace the frames used to make up the splits with drawn but empty comb. I'll do a few next spring with foundation and see if I like it. Certainly it would speed comb rotation and if I start selling nucs (which I have been thinking about) I'll have a need for comb!

    Now to get around my philosophical stumbling block of selling bees AND teaching bee school. I've thus far avoided profiting on bee school. Not that profit is a dirty word - so far my profit or rather earnings have come by means of selling honey (mostly wholesale.)

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    There is some great information here. Am commenting to follow this thread. I am hoping to do splits in the spring. April 2015 will mark the end of my first year of beekeeping. Thanks everyone.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Walk-away split question

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    especially if you were offended by my referring to you as Cleo.is a dirty word - so far my profit or rather earnings have come by means of selling honey (mostly wholesale.)
    No, Cleo is fine with me. I have been called almost everything in the books over time. (retired military)

    To me, selling nucs and complete hives is the way to go. Much easier than fooling with honey. I too get rid of my honey by selling it wholesale.

    By using foundation, almost all the frames my customers get are either new or very nearly new. The foundation is put into the brood hives.

    Thanks.

    cchoganjr

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