distance when splitting a hive
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Louisville, OH
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    Default distance when splitting a hive

    When I first started in beekeeping 2 years ago, they told us in the class I attended that when splitting a hive to take the split 2 miles away to keep the bees from coming back to the original hive. I had three hives last summer that appear to have all survived the winter and are doing well with a good amount of capped honey still. So I'm trying to get ready for the spring, reading about how they will likely swarm and therefore do a split. So as I've been reading about that I've come across some people who say don't bother moving the split away, just put it in a hive next to the old one with a tree limb out in front of it or something so that the bees coming out of it know which hive is theirs and they'll come back to it. So, is it really that important to move the hive 2 miles away? The closest location I have to 2 miles is an apple orchard but it's 1.5 miles. And I'd rather not move them at all if I don't have to - I don't want to have to inspect 3 hives here, drag my suit and equipment to the orchard and do it all again. I'd rather have them in one location if it's not really going to be a problem.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Placer County, CA
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    442

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    I've only done 1 split, but I placed it 5 feet away from the hive I split from. They are both doing well and brood is increasing rapidly.
    On my 5th year with bees, 2 hives.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Red Bud, IL, USA
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    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    I frequently split and leave the splits within inches of each other, just remember the foragers are going to go back to the original hive location and plan accordingly. With splits being done during daylight hours, the foragers are out doing their thing so you don't have them being transferred during the initial split anyway; so I miss the point of splitting and running the nucs miles away. If one of the splits appears weaker I have moved it to the original location to "increase its forager workforce."

    After I move a hive, for whatever reason, I do place an obstruction in front of the hive or stuff the entrance with grass to force reorientation.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Louisville, KY
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    3,284

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    There are multiple strategies to supplement the problem, you should probably research that. The bottom line is if you make a split and move less than a few miles, all of the flyers will return to the old site, amounting to potentially a large reduction of population. Depending on the hwo you made the split and age mix of the split, it could be just a handful.

    I have the luxury of multiple yards 5-10 miles apart. So its no problem for me to. I always move them, then move them back a couple weeks later. If you are making small nucs with lower populations of bees, I would no doubt move them as it could spell catastrophy. If you are doing a half and half split, the losses may not be so bad.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Casey, Il, USA
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    4,130

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    I usually Split off the queen and move her to the next available slot on the hive stand sometimes only 18 inches away. Give her honey and pollen frames untill they get the workforce they need. By placing all of the capped brood with her, it doesn't take long before they are up and running on their own.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    2,227

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    About 30 feet and facing a different cardinal direction is about optimum for run-of-the-mill splits. I move the queenright hive, and leave the queenless split in the old location.

    If you cage and hold the bees overnight or 48 hours -- a split will reorganize itself and can be placed very close to the original location. A caged split should be fed.

    A queenless split runs the risk of drifting back to the main hive if done in the morning and placed near the main hive. You will come back one day later, and the brood will be cold and abandoned. This is especially true if you are splitting off a tower into a single or nuc. The bees have a visual recognition of the hive and will return to the "old" shape -- even if you rotate the tower 180. I split into nucs off a tower this spring, rotated the tower, and had returning bees clustered on the new "backside" - which was shifted 7 feet and ignoring the little boxes in the old location and the old orientation. The cluster walked around the box to the new entrance. Same day, I did the 30 foot move on another yard and had 100% take on the nucs.

    A mating yard works best with tens of boxes of all the same cohort. Mating nucs tend to drift off more catastrophically (as you only have 500 bees to start).

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Vernon, AZ. USA
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    627

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    The person that taught your class was confused. If you catch a swarm from your own hives at your own house and put it in a box it helps to move it away from your yard two miles for a few days. Or else the Scout bees continue to scout for a house and will leave with everybody. There are other uses for that, it forces a complete reorientation. Like moving 20 hives 200 yards, it can be easier to just load up and park 2 miles down the street for 2 days. Then bring them back, off load, no piles of lost bees at the old sites.

    For ordinary splits just make the split and reverse the positions ,old and new hive. They can be a few feet apart. Swapping positions allows the new split to gain a lot of the old foragers. They are the ones that will fly to the old hive position. Swapping position is not neccesary, but makes a better split. The foragers help the new split.
    Last edited by jadebees; 03-20-2016 at 10:21 AM.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Louisville, OH
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    48

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    Thank you for the information everyone. I like the idea of swapping the positions of the hives to allow the foragers to return to the new hive.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    5,183

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    There are a lot of strategies for same-yard splitting that will work, but if you try just a little you can probably get a place to use as a secondary yard. Now that I have one I see that it's well worth the effort.
    Since '09-75H-T-Z6b

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Gadsden, Alabama
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    85

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    I hope the OP doesn't mind me hijacking their thread, but I have a similar question. I am doing my first split next weekend. The old hive and new hive will need to be about half a block from each other. How's the best way to handle this? Does it matter which half goes to the new location? I'd rather not switch their positions after the initial move. What would your process be?

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Ottertail Minnesota USA
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    410

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    Why can't you move the original hive over let say 12 inches and place the new box 1/2 way where the original hive was? Wouldn't your foragers return to both hives?

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Fayetteville NC, USA
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    15

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    look on YouTube for the Taranov split. It works great and you won't need to move the split hive.

  14. #13
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    Mar 2014
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    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    Stella, remember the old foragers will return to the original location. Your choice on which split gets the queen, just remember the one without the queen needs young larvae and the one without foragers needs resources. If in doubt or unable to find the queen; split the brood and resources 50/50 and c’est la vie. (monitor and adjust as needed)

  15. #14
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    Mar 2015
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    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Eikel View Post
    Stella, remember the old foragers will return to the original location. Your choice on which split gets the queen, just remember the one without the queen needs young larvae and the one without foragers needs resources. If in doubt or unable to find the queen; split the brood and resources 50/50 and c’est la vie. (monitor and adjust as needed)
    Thanks! I watched a video the other day where the guy basically took out half of the frames of brood (which I would assume contained both capped brood and very young larvae/eggs), shook the bees back into the hive, and then placed the now empty frames into a new box on top of the hive with a queen excluder between the new box and the rest of the hive. Later in the day he came back and took the top box, which was now covered in nurse bees and moved it to a new location. I like the idea of being pretty much absolutely sure which half the queen is in without having to actually find her (I suck at that). But I'm afraid that I'll end up hurting the queen by doing that.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    I frequently do three way splits without finding the queen first. I do the splits and set the tops back on the nucs; wait 15 minutes and open each split to listen. The split with the queen will be business as usual; the queenless splits will have a roar. The roar isn't a louder sound just a deeper sound, think of the bees passing around the news that the "queen as Left the building." Once you hear it you'll remember it.

  17. #16
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    Mar 2015
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    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    That's a good idea. I think I would rather have the queenless half stay in the old location because it's the harder location to get to.

  18. #17
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    Mar 2015
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    Ocala, Florida, USA
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    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    For short moves we split and move the queens away from the original location. As stated above leave the queen right one with the majority of the capped brood. When moving hives a short distance we lock them up for a day using a #8 screen across the opening. We move at night and orient the hive opening 180 degrees from the prior direction. Then we go the next morning at sunrise to open them up. Doesn't hurt to put a few sticks or leaves at the opening.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    Jackson, Ohio (SE Ohio) USA
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    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    FWIW, I've done one split, set up the new hive about three feet from the old. Didn't even try to find the queen, just tried to do a 50-50 split on brood and resources, that was last spring, both did well and came through the winter just fine. I'm not in it particuarly for the honey, so didn't worry about immediately requeening, prefer to let the bees do that. I did notice that one hive had less resources going into the fall, so fed them 2:1 syrup. I would guess that was the one that didn't have the old queen and the approximately four weeks it took to produce a new one affected the population and thereby resource gathering. That made it clear to me that those in this for the honey production would want to requeen and why.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    S Hadley, Massachusetts USA
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    983

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    Quote Originally Posted by gswartz View Post
    When I first started in beekeeping 2 years ago, they told us in the class I attended that when splitting a hive to take the split 2 miles away to keep the bees from coming back to the original hive. I had three hives last summer that appear to have all survived the winter and are doing well with a good amount of capped honey still. So I'm trying to get ready for the spring, reading about how they will likely swarm and therefore do a split. So as I've been reading about that I've come across some people who say don't bother moving the split away, just put it in a hive next to the old one with a tree limb out in front of it or something so that the bees coming out of it know which hive is theirs and they'll come back to it. So, is it really that important to move the hive 2 miles away? The closest location I have to 2 miles is an apple orchard but it's 1.5 miles. And I'd rather not move them at all if I don't have to - I don't want to have to inspect 3 hives here, drag my suit and equipment to the orchard and do it all again. I'd rather have them in one location if it's not really going to be a problem.
    Split in the same yard. Just realize foragers will go back to the parent hive. Make sure you have capped brood and open brood full of nurse bees that will not go back. The population will dip but will rebound as new brood emerges and queen starts laying.
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  21. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Kenton County, Ky
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    61

    Default Re: distance when splitting a hive

    I have a OB hive on my porch that is 24/60" i split them 2 days ago put split 5' away in window,just threw a hand full of grass in front of opening let them sort and clear out of way,their still going and coming back to the right place. If there are caped brood,they will come back.

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