Walk away split
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Thread: Walk away split

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    South Point, Ohio, USA
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    55

    Default Walk away split

    I know this has been asked a few times, a variation by me, but I wanted to ask it fresh and try to get a perspective unique to my exact situation.

    I'm going out of town soon, and while my wife is great at taking care of the chickens, she won't touch the bees with a 10-foot pole wearing full gear.

    That being said, my one hive (two deeps with a super on they just started drawing) is going gangbusters currently, and I was thinking about doing a walk away split before I left since the time I'm gone will be less paranoia time for me worrying if all is going well. But, that also means I won't be there if I need to be for whatever reason ..... but from what I've gathered there really is no reason for a few weeks anyway?

    Here's the plan:

    Take 2 frames of capped brood, larvae and young eggs (I understand this last one is essential) and place in a nuc box with two frames of stores and a partially drawn and empty frame.
    Reduce entrance and call it a day (the box has plenty of ventilation with a screened hole on the bottom and two small screened holes in the back)
    Check back in 3-4 weeks and see what's going on.

    Is it that simple? Would it be damaging to the bees in the nuc if when I check there isn't a queen? Could I then just purchase one? Or will they leave after weeks without a queen or just dwindle in size at that point no matter what I do?

    Thanks in advance for anyone who takes the time to read and reply!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Champaign, Illinois
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    2,461

    Default Re: Walk away split

    Tried the way you just described only with four frames.
    Sorry but that's the backwards way. Your success will be much better doing it where you take a couple frames of capped and about to emerge brood along with the current queen you have. First I'll explain how to find the exact frames you want.
    Look for well-traveled capped brood. Scrape the cover off one cell or two with your hive tool and look at the head of the bee inside. If it has purple eyes that's what you're looking for.

    If you do it the way I described all the brood in your big hive will emerge since there is no laying queen. They'll have less and less baby bees to care for and will make more and more honey. Backfill the brood nest and maybe pull that comb the rest of the way and fill it as well.

    Both hives will be fine for two weeks in that condition. Might put a undrawn frame in with the old queen to give them something to work on. If you have two nucs stack the second on top of the queen right nuc you made and then you can sleep good for a week or two.
    If the virgin queen fails to mate, gets eaten, or killed you can re-untite the nuc and save the day.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
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    5,400

    Default Re: Walk away split

    Aunt Betty is right! By leaving the queen in the production hive you still have a potential for swarming and leave an impinged workforce. By removing the queen and mature brood you make the split capable of growing, Place ample stores in the hive for maintenance shake in plenty of bees. Leave the split in the same apiary. the foragers will return to the parent hive and gather nectar. The nurse bees will mature into gatherers for the split and the mature brood will leave ample nurse bees. Success on this type of split is extremely high, and as Aunt Betty stated re-combining is always an option.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    South Point, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Walk away split

    Thanks for the detailed reply!

    If I'm basically pulling a well-populated nuc, with a laying queen, out of the existing hive - could I not just put them in a full-sized hive instead of a nuc?

    In that case, a thought from my admittedly limited experience, I shouldn't have to worry too much for about three weeks because the split will be busy building new comb while the now queenless hive will be busy rearing a new queen.

    I'm now wondering ... knowing it would be basically zero honey, since I have two fill deeps, could I just take one deep off to make a new hive and add another empty deep on top each of those? At least the queenright colony at first?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
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    5,532

    Default Re: Walk away split

    Quote Originally Posted by RiversideBeek View Post

    I'm now wondering ... knowing it would be basically zero honey, since I have two fill deeps, could I just take one deep off to make a new hive and add another empty deep on top each of those? At least the queenright colony at first?
    If your main objective is having two strong hives going into winter, rather than focusing on the maximum honey yield this summer, an equal split on a robust colony would work just fine. Especially if you are having trouble locating the queen and running out of time.

    Split all the resources and brood equally between the 2 deeps making sure you have frames with eggs in each, and add a second deep to each colony. A month from now you can move some capped brood over to the split with the new laying queen to equalize things a bit.
    To everything there is a season....

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
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    Default Re: Walk away split

    Making the split as described earlier does not really take many bees from the parent hive. Most of what remains with the Nuc is nurse bees. The foragers stay with the parent. This allows the parent hive to continue producing honey in fact It increases production. Allowing one to increase hive numbers while at the same time producing surplus honey.
    If you are not interested in the honey, then by all means follow mikes advice.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
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    1,788

    Default Re: Walk away split

    To your original plan of two frames of brood, just transferring two frames of brood will leave the colony weak and susceptible to pests which can overwhelm very quickly. Shake in extra nurse bees to boost their numbers. I do 3 frames splits but lost some last year to SHB/moths over a 6 day trip but last year was a banner year for SHB here.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,582

    Default Re: Walk away split

    A strong hive is more likely to raise a well fed queen than a weak one. I would either do an even split or put the queen with the weak split and let the old/strong location raise the new queen.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
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    4,323

    Default Re: Walk away split

    I started taking frames from my strong hive when I made a few nucs. After a couple of days I checked the nucs to find one of them wasn't making queen cells. Right away I knew something was a miss.
    Upon further inspection, I realized I grabbed my queen from the strong hive and placed her in the nuc by accident. She was laying eggs like there was no tomorrow.
    The strong hive had some of the best looking queen cells that I have seen.
    I let it all play out and it worked amazingly well. The strong hive was able to handle the "queenlessness" far better than a nuc would have due to the population and the amount of perfect eggs to start queen cells.
    With the extra queen cells, I was able to start 6 more nucs. All of which are full size hives now.
    I learn something new everyday.

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