Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?
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  1. #1
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    Default Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    I have 3 overwintered hives. One has a pure Russian queen (by one of the bona fide Russian breeders) and was started in August, so it's smaller than the other two. The other 2 hives are Russian hybrid queens from last summer's swarm cells.

    I'd like to expand the apiary and am thinking about the best way to make splits AND still get honey.

    I'm thinking of taking that pure Russian hive which is small right now (weather has prevented checking for a couple weeks, but I'll check tomorrow) and trying to get 3 walk-away splits out of it this summer, just by taking a frame of brood and eggs out of there 3 times. I can get a frame or two of honey/pollen from the bigger hives I think and get away with it. The mother hive and the splits would be smaller this summer and going into winter, most likely, but that's okay.

    Does that sound plausible?

    The only exception would be if I find swarm cells in a hive. Then I'll use those for splits, all at once, and start as many hives as there are queen cells.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    Taking a small pop hive and splitting it three times seems like there has to be a better alternative. Splitting a booming hive three times sounds better. Especially IF you want honey AND bees to over winter.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    Split the strongest ones, let the weak build or die-out. The splits will build up just fine if you make them early and strong enough to grow. Waitting on nataural swarm cells is tough you have about a 5 day window to catch them. I don't like walk away splits unless its a 50/50 sort of thing in a strong hive, the cell builder needs to be strong.

    I would pull the queen and a few good frames of brood. They will build up no problem. The the main hive now queenless builds the cells, then split them out before they emerge. Or pull the queen and make a few grafts. A graft frame is easier than hunting thru the hive for cells.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    I like to follow mel disselkoens practice of taking the queen from a good strong hive a week before the main flow with a couple frames of brood and bees and letting the parent colony raise a new queen and store the honey that would have been used to raise the brood cycle when queenless. IF you can get the timing right, it works very well for getting a crop. If your requeening fails, you have the split to requeen your parent hive with. A side benefit is breaking the varroa mites breeding cycle and crashing their population in the hive you make queenless.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    I would take some resources from the stronger hives to use with the eggs / larvae of the pure Russian queen. I'd do one nuc at a time, using nurse bees and emerging brood from a donor hive, make up a nuc and place it in the position of the donor hive. There's currently a thread about using 5-frame nuc boxes as cell builders...

    One suggestion was to use a second nuc box under the one with the "grafts" so there would be room for a cluster of bees to hang from the center with maybe a frame of honey on the sides...

    You might replace the frame of pure Russian eggs with frame of emerging brood from a strong hive.

    You might find this interesting : https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...-for-Hobbyists
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    I think it's Michael Palmer who breaks up his weak hives into nucs. I read that information on here. It makes perfectly good common sense to me, and that's what I do. Unless overcrowding in the hive is becoming a problem, why would you want to take resources from hives that should make a good crop of honey and keep a weak hive intact that probably won't? I split my weak ones into nucs and put good queen cells in them.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Bee View Post
    I think it's Michael Palmer who breaks up his weak hives into nucs. I read that information on here. It makes perfectly good common sense to me, and that's what I do. Unless overcrowding in the hive is becoming a problem, why would you want to take resources from hives that should make a good crop of honey and keep a weak hive intact that probably won't? I split my weak ones into nucs and put good queen cells in them.
    I heard Michael say that when he spoke to our state's beekeepers association this spring, and it's where I got the idea. It seemed to make sense: why sacrifice a strong hive, just use the weak hive as a nuc-maker, basically. Not that this small hive is a weak hive, it's just an overwintered nuc itself basically. But with good queen stock, it could be the queenmaker for the apiary, I'm thinking.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Bee View Post
    I split my weak ones into nucs and put good queen cells in them.
    Getting the strong hives to build "good cells" with the larvae from the pure Russian would be my objective. Bees can eventually be reunited with the donor hive after the cells are made.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeCurious View Post
    Getting the strong hives to build "good cells" with the larvae from the pure Russian would be my objective.
    Me too.
    And to take it a step further, I think that I would be tempted to turn her into "The" queen breeder and also introduce a foundationless or partially foundationless frame into her breeding hive repeatedly to encourage drone brood, and try to saturate the area with as many Russian drones as possible, instead of leaving it all to the hybrids. It may seem counter-intuitive, but more and better drones mated with better queens can only make better bees. Of course this is dependent on the belief that Russians ARE better bees

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    Could the Russian queens genetics be used without taking a whole frame of brood from them? Get the bees from the other colonies to supply the nurse bees and get queens mated in a three frame divisions.

    I found Oltimers post on queen rearing without grafting to be helpful in a lot of ways.

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...+queen+rearing
    Frank

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    I heard Michael say that when he spoke to our state's beekeepers association this spring, and it's where I got the idea. It seemed to make sense: why sacrifice a strong hive, just use the weak hive as a nuc-maker, basically. Not that this small hive is a weak hive, it's just an overwintered nuc itself basically. But with good queen stock, it could be the queenmaker for the apiary, I'm thinking.
    I started doing the small/weak hive splits last year and it worked out well for me. I could get 4 or 5 good nucs from one hive. I tore the hive down into nucs when I found capped queen swarm cells in my best queens hive. I plugged a queen cell in each nuc. I also thinned some frames from the best queens hive and opened up the brood nest which apparently kept them from swarming. I think I just got plain lucky with the non swarm. I've got 2 hives that I am going to break down into nucs within the next week or two.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    try to saturate the area with as many Russian drones as possible, instead of leaving it all to the hybrids. It may seem counter-intuitive, but more and better drones mated with better queens can only make better bees. Of course this is dependent on the belief that Russians ARE better bees
    I agree with that - of course, most Russians are probably not pure to begin with. And their genes, with hybrids of hybrids, will get watered down quickly. For my northern area, I feel that Russians overwinter better, on less stores. But local survivor stock is probably worth duplicating too.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    Propagate (split) from the hive that has the best temperament or whatever characteristics that you want. My preference is to pull the queen to a nuc from that designated hive and let the full size colony raise lots of emergency queen cells. Once they are capped, then you split up that hive into nucs leaving enough bees behind in the main hive to rebound for winter.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    NewbeeInNH,

    In addition to my idea of how to use your resources, I would also consider removing the queens from the stronger colonies when your main nectar flow is approaching to increase the honey crop.

    Having "queen castles" and nuc equipment makes all of this much easier.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    Quote Originally Posted by VikingJim View Post
    And to take it a step further, I think that I would be tempted to turn her into "The" queen breeder and also introduce a foundationless or partially foundationless frame into her breeding hive repeatedly to encourage drone brood
    You dont want your drones coming from the same hive that your queens come from. If you are in an area where there are lots of other bees around, probably doesn't matter. In our case, a very limited supply of external bees within flying distance, I removed the drone frame from the colony that provided larvae for grafting and made sure none of the brood in it would survive.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Sacrifice one hive to make a few splits this season?

    In addition to my idea of how to use your resources, I would also consider removing the queens from the stronger colonies when your main nectar flow is approaching to increase the honey crop.

    Having "queen castles" and nuc equipment makes all of this much easier.
    I've heard of that. Doesn't that also interrupt the brood cycle for mite control? I think there was a workshop on that in Maine last year sometime.

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