When to split a package?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Columbia City, Indiana, USA
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    217

    Default When to split a package?

    When starting a new colony from a package, how advisable is it to split it during the first year?

    I know honey production will suffer, but if I wanted to simply split a package and make a small nuc with a purchased queen and build that new colony up, when would be a good time to do it? Should I wait until I have a certain amount of frames with capped brood? A certain amount of bee covered frames? Certain time of the year?

    I have plenty of frames of capped honey in my freezer that I can add to this new colony to help get it going, but I am debating on the timing of when to do it. Thanks for any tips and advice.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Taylorville, IL
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    Default Re: When to split a package?

    I am only in my second year, so my advice may be suspect. Given that, I started last year with two packages in early April. By the middle of June one of them had built out two deeps of foundation, I split off a five frame nuc, with 1 frame open and 1 frame capped brood and bees to cover and 2 frames honey/pollen, and allowed it to rear its own queen. By the end of July I had it in a 10 frame deep, and by the end of the season they had filled two deeps.The split survived the winter and now has 3 supers on it. I fed the packages and the split til they had drawn out two deeps. Alot of feeding, but a good start to my beekeeping. I didn't harvest anything last year, just getting them and me established.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
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    1,790

    Default Re: When to split a package?

    timing is up the the package and your goles
    put a frame or 2 of brood and frame or 2 of food in a nuc with a queen and a few shake of bees in early July and it will build up enuf to overwinter as a nuc in most places. start early and or heaver if you need it bigger or have a shorter season. Local advice matters

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    7,861

    Default Re: When to split a package?

    Splitting is based on the hive population that will support another nuc hive. Doesn't matter if you start it from a package or a nuc hive. With timing, it will depend on your local environment. And you should do it as early as possible when there are enough bees to do so. Some will do a 50/50 split while others will make a 5 frame nuc split. Feeding will help them establish faster before the cold winter sets in. Because I don't follow traditional I took 3 hives to split 6 nucs out of them in a fairly populated hive. This will help the new queens to establish faster. With good timing and the production hive's help, these nucs will grow much faster. Maybe they will be able to harvest some nectar on the Autumn flow too. I'm also planting echium to help them along.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
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    Default Re: When to split a package?

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    And you should do it as early as possible when there are enough bees to do so.
    nope, depends on your goles.. too early and you will fight swarming in a nuc your trying to over winter, I have had them drawing cells in Oct

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    7,861

    Default Re: When to split a package?

    There are many factors involved depending on your local bee environment again. Going through a
    summer dearth the hive will be struggling though I feed them well to maintain the hive population until the Autumn flow. When you are fighting to keep them in a nuc then put another one or 2 on top. It doesn't has to be a one nuc hive box so that they will swarm away. That is why the production hive will help. Being flexible according to your bee situation will keep
    everything within perspective. I don't have any swarm issue in 5 year of beekeeping because everything is managed well at the right time. Know your local bee environment as we are all different from state to state!
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    34,541

    Default Re: When to split a package?

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeHoosier View Post
    When starting a new colony from a package, how advisable is it to split it during the first year?

    I know honey production will suffer, but if I wanted to simply split a package and make a small nuc with a purchased queen and build that new colony up, when would be a good time to do it? Should I wait until I have a certain amount of frames with capped brood? A certain amount of bee covered frames? Certain time of the year?

    I have plenty of frames of capped honey in my freezer that I can add to this new colony to help get it going, but I am debating on the timing of when to do it. Thanks for any tips and advice.
    Just off the top of my head I'd say once you have 6 fullish individual frames of brood, of various stages, but mostly capped, and enough adult bee population to maintain each half when you divide the colony. So, late July, maybe?

    Whether you can get them through the Winter is the question. It can be done. But it's often a matter of luck these days, luck and skill.
    Mark Berninghausen

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Columbia City, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    217

    Default Re: When to split a package?

    Thanks for the responses. Good info sqkcrk.

    Overall, I plan to use a wooden 5-frame nuc box and then as they grow I will add another 5 frame box on top and then eventually move them into a regular 10-frame hive. I am hoping to have it grow large enough to be in a 10 frame deep box (or more) before winter so that I can add a medium box on top with capped honey from another colony to serve as food through the winter.

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