Vertical Split question
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  1. #1
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    Aug 2014
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    Default Vertical Split question

    Thinking about trying a vertical split this spring as described here:
    http://honeybeesuite.com/how-to-make-a-vertical-split/

    I want the bees to make their own queen and I do not have a double screened board. On other sites I have read where you can use a queen excluder (instead of a double screened board) and the bees will make a new queen above the excluder. This seems to easy, am I missing something? Has anyone tried this? What problems do you run into?

    Thanks

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    The difference between using a queen excluder and a double screen board is the double screen board has its own entrance(s). These entrances actually are stacked so that they go either into the lower section or the upper section, depending on which way they are toggled. I think they may be a critical feature of a split made using a double screen board, which depends (in my experience) on the ability to move foragers back and forth between the two sections, but under the control of the beekeeper. Some double screen boards have a total of eight entrances, mine only have three pairs (one pair each on the long sides, and a pair on one short side.)

    The upper section needs a separate entrance from the moment the boxes are re-stacked, and I don't see how you could provide that with a QeX. And I don't see how you could do the further manipulations that involve sending some of the hatching bees back down to the lower section if you don't have the matching pairs of toggle doors of double screen board.

    I think you could easily make a double screen board (sometimes also called a Snelgrove Board). I think the joinery is minimal, and could be entirely made with simple butt joints. Even the toggles are pretty simple. And they aren't expensive to buy (less than $20.)

    I am as hopeless a carpenter as you can imagine and I intend to modify my Snelgrove boards before deploying them this spring.

    Been siting here mulling over the notion of using a QeX instead of a double screen board, and my guess is that it won't work in the same way because you haven't physically divided the worker bees. It might make a successful split, but I think it would work in some completely different way from a double screen board, if it worked at all.

    That said, I can vouch for the efficacy of doing so-called vertical splits with Snelgrove/double screen boards. They work very well, with a minimum of fuss. The things I would add to the Rusty's (HoneyBeeSuite) instructions is to take a good bit more of the capped brood (with nurse bees) out of the bottom, especially if you are doing this as a swarm precaution. And also to throw on a generous amount of supers under the board so that the foragers have plenty of storage room. I also give the upper section a lot of honey and pollen frames as all the foragers will be exiting and the remaining bees will be on nurse duty for the next few weeks. And you really want that new queen to be wonderfully well fed., so she is strong and healthy

    The question of getting the best queens made from emergency cells is an interesting one. A refinement is to destroy the first few cells they make and force them to use larvae that's been fed all its life (after the split) with royal jelly, not ones that had already stopped being fed royal jelly, and then it was resumed when a e-cell was needed. If you are familiar with the OTS notching technique this might be a good time to do that as well.

    The other thing is that you will likely get more than a few queen cells started, more than may be actually a good idea to allow to develop into queens. So you may wish to cull the extras, or very carefully move some of them to a queen castle for further splitting. I average about enough QCells to make three nucs from my strong hives. (The modification I am planning to make to my Snelgrove boards this years is to turn them into two-chamber spaces so I can simultaneously raise two new queens, in stronger nucs, above the original queen in the lower box, rather than just one principal and other re-splits being transferred to two-frame queen castles. So during the re-queening process I will have three-queen stacks.

    I hope my ramblings are helpful to you. Vertical splits work so well, I hope you will try one (but with a proper board for the best chance f success.)

    For further reading about using a Snelgrove board, I suggest searching for sites in the UK, particularly the Welsh Beekeepers' Assoc., apparently the boards are much more common there than here. If they sound confusing to read about, get a board and sit with on your kitchen table set on an empty hive body - with one in hand the tricky stuff about the doors suddenly becomes perfectly clear.

    One final note: plan your beekeeping affairs, including any needed peeks into the bottom section, such that once you've got your chosen Qcells cooking along that you needn't disturb this tall stack again until after the new queen is out and mated and back on the job. Use Michael Bush's bee math chart so you can keep track of when it's safe to go looking for eggs. And never mess with the toggle doors later on in the process. The very last thing you want to do is to inadvertently divert the upper entrance door into the lower section when the queen has gone out to mate - leading her to re-enter the lower section where her Mamma still reigns. The Queen-Mother will not be amused.

    Enj.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Lexington, VA, USA
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    What is your goal? If all you want is to split and create a new hive just do an overnight split also described well on Rusty Burlew's site. You can introduce a mated queen, or let the bees raise their own or help them along with OTS. These only require a screen excluder.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    > On other sites I have read where you can use a queen excluder (instead of a double screened board) and the bees will make a new queen above the excluder. This seems to easy, am I missing something?

    It's not 100% but typically they will raise a queen on the other side of the excluder.

    > Has anyone tried this?

    Often.

    > What problems do you run into?

    If you want 100% success, the double screen is better. if you'll settle for 90% the queen excluder is probably better as it really doesn't divide the resources of the colony.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  6. #5
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    Sep 2015
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    I have done the vertical splits with success. I had added a mated queen to the top, and left the split on top until the main honey flow started.

    When I did this previously I took an old bottom board, cut out the middle and added screening to the top and bottom.
    Last year in a pinch I took an inner cover with an entrance notch and used it as a divider to house a small swarm above a strong stock until I figured out what to do with them. To prevent the bees from travelling between the 2 colonies via the feeder whole, I took a plastic queen excluder that I no longer wanted and cut 3 small pieces, one on the top, one on the bottom and one loose to bloack the bees but allow the warm air to travel up.

    This weekend I plan to make some boards for my plan this spring. My plan for the double screen board, will be to use some more of that cut up plastic queen excluder attached with a staple gun to the bottom. I will then make an insert using a small screen the bees can't cross. I plan to do this so that I can use the board for Vertical Splits and 2 queen hives with the insert in, or remove it and use the board to make Doolittle splits.

    There are different ways to make the double screen board, and really putting a whole in a flat piece of wood doesn't require much skill.
    If you go with the Queen Excluder make sure of course that the new queen, and resultant drones have an exit.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Madison, Alabama
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    15

    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    As enjambres states in his response, the portion of the split above the queen excluder needs an entrance (if for no other reason than for the virgin queen to exit and return at mating time).

    Should this upper entrance be on the same side of the colony as the entrance for the portion of the split below the QE? If so, what’s to prevent bees departing from the upper portion of the split from returning and entering the lower portion of the split?

  8. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    Ap.....
    If so, what’s to prevent bees departing from the upper portion of the split from returning and entering the lower portion of the split?
    I am new but this is my take and also why the double screen board works well with the way its entrances are set up.

    Bee that leave a hive for the first time oreint on where they left the hive. For example, one of my hives had warping that left a bee space entrance between the top of the first box and the bottom of the second box. The bees were coming and going from that hole and having to stay outside and wait thier turn because the hole was so small. The clustered there even though the whole bottom board entrance was only 6 inches away. I inspected and reversed the boxes (brood chamber) and it made that hole go away. So now the bees still gether at where the hole used to be and then make a train from there and march down to the bottom entrance. They have been doing this for a few days.

    The double screen works well for minipulating bees cause it has tabs that are in the same place and you can open them to send bees up of open the bottom one and close the top one to send bees down from the very same place.

    So I think bees go by memory from where they left the hive for the first time and only when something changes do they go by smell to end up where they want to be.

    I think mostly it would work fine with entrances facing the same direction but would work even better and with less risk with them facing differrent directions.
    I am new so take my comments with that in mind.
    gww

    Ps The last time I saw this come up, a guy said if you put on two supers before putting on the queen excluder with brood above it that the seperation made them make queen cells.
    Last edited by gww; 04-03-2017 at 10:59 AM.
    zone 5b

  9. #8
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    May 2015
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    Pataskala, OH
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    I think they may be a critical feature of a split made using a double screen board, which depends (in my experience) on the ability to move foragers back and forth between the two sections, but under the control of the beekeeper.
    To me, at least, that is the mysterious part about using the Snelgrove board. I get the mechanics of opening/closing entrances to move them, but I have no clue how I am supposed to decide I *need* more foragers on one side or the other.

    Regards,
    Wally
    Last edited by wallyblackburn; 04-03-2017 at 03:17 PM. Reason: Typos

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    Wally
    Again, I am new. It seems to me that you really don't need to guage the foragers on the top split if you feed it a bit. I think the biggest reason the entrances are so handy is to be able to strengthen the origional bottom part for actual honey gethering. Most of the totorials that I have been reading is that syphoning bees down is how it is used most. My uneducated belief for this is that it allows you to keep the split small and the hive big until you decide to break the split off on its own. I have lots of reasons in my mind why this is helpful but have reached my typing energy quota untill some one else with more eperiance agrees with me or tells me I have it wrong. No sence wasting typing energy if I am getting it wrong.
    Cheers
    gww

    Ps when you move the top split off the hive and put it on its own, all the flying bees will leave it anyway unless you move it three miles.
    Last edited by gww; 04-03-2017 at 10:56 PM.
    zone 5b

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post

    I am as hopeless a carpenter as you can imagine and I intend to modify my Snelgrove boards before deploying them this spring.

    The modification I am planning to make to my Snelgrove boards this years is to turn them into two-chamber spaces so I can simultaneously raise two new queens, in stronger nucs, above the original queen in the lower box, rather than just one principal and other re-splits being transferred to two-frame queen castles. So during the re-queening process I will have three-queen stacks.
    Enj: Did you ever make this modified Snelgrove board? Is so, can you post a picture? Thanks.

  12. #11
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    May 2015
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    I second that Enj: this 3 queen stack is intriguing. The snelgrove boards definitely work i used them this past year and will be getting a few more of them for this coming spring. But the idea of splitting the top box is interesting. I think im going to have to sit with a pen and paper and try and figure out the design that would work for this.

    Presumably a split super that we would use to make the bottom box of a double overwintering nuc would work to go above the modified snelgrove board.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    If you built your board like this, you can put a center devider for nucs like michael palmer makes giving you your 3 queens. I built mine like this but do not ever intend to use them in that fassion. I just followed the plan cause it was the plan.
    https://www.beesource.com/wordpress/w...ds/scrnbrd.pdf
    Cheers
    gww

    Ps unless the side opening satisfied you, You might want to off set the front and back openings if you were going to do double nucs on top.
    zone 5b

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    This is what I was envisioning. Put two 4 frame nucs on top of the SB and raise two queens up top while moving the parent queen down to the bottom box.

    double nuc snelgrove board.jpg

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    If you built your board like this, you can put a center devider for nucs like michael palmer makes giving you your 3 queens. I built mine like this but do not ever intend to use them in that fassion. I just followed the plan cause it was the plan.
    https://www.beesource.com/wordpress/w...ds/scrnbrd.pdf
    gww: I think that works fine too. In addition to adding the center divider on the SB, you will also need to change the front and back doors to pivot only out, because they will not be able to pivot as it is built with the divider board betweeen them. If you are working with 2 4-frame nucs and 3/4" material, you would only need to cut a 1 1/2" X 3/4" X 19 7/8" for the top side and then anchor the gates to on the top side where they will swing only out and not hit the divider. Easy.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    I set up my cell builders in a similar way. About 60 a cell building season. Brood above an excluder over a queen-right colony. After 10 days, I inspect. 25% of the time the bees start queen cell above the excluder. I don't feel that 25% is good enough if attempting to raise queen cells.

    Rather than a double screen, you can use an inner cover with feed hole closed by duct tape. Rim up and entrance notch to the rear of the hive. In this configuration, the bees will always raise cells.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question


  18. #17
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    psm, I would put one of those front entrances on the back.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    psm, I would put one of those front entrances on the back.
    Thank you Michael. I was planning on placing the board on the hive where those two entrances would be situated to the rear. Are you concerned that those 2 entrances are so close together that they could cause confusion for the bees or queens?

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    For returning queens

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Vertical Split question

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    For returning queens
    Thanks. That will be an easy fix.

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