Is it too late to do a split ?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Brunswick, North Carolina
    Posts
    172

    Default Is it too late to do a split ?

    I am located in SE North Carolina - the flow is long over here and our fall flows are pretty skimpy. I have lost a couple of my hives for unknown reasons but still have several hives and one of them is exceptionally strong. Is it too late to do a successful split ofthat hive and how do I go about it ? I have never done one this late in the season and robbing appears to be especially bad this year. Should I purchase a queen? Should I feed them?

    On a related question I also captured a swarm a few weeks ago that has a very small population but has a good queen. How do I get them beefed up in order to make it through the coming winter ?- Should I feed a weak syrup with an internal feeder?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Winona MN USA
    Posts
    252

    Default Re: Is it too late to do a split ?

    My biggest concern would be, why/how did you loose your other colonies? (disease, mites, swarming, lost queen, ect.) If you can take a reasonable guess, you can use your empty resources to do several things. Keeping your remaining hives would be MY first concern. Starting with treating for mites if you haven't. Then be sure they have plenty of room.
    I am assuming you have drawn frames from your lost hives. These could be used to build your small swarm much faster as well as building a split. Again being as sure as you can, as to why you lost your hives. This can not be over stated. A description as to the events leading up to their demise here may help people here help you determine why you lost them. That being said, Drawn comb will provide room for your "good" swarm queen to lay and honey/syrup to be store for the up coming winter.( Does north Carolina have winter ) It will also prevent back filling the brood area as your bees store honey/syrup. Doing a split is possible but I would buy a queen as opposed to raising one as it gives you a month head start on brood rearing as opposed to raising your own. There are numerous ways to do a split. A "walk away split is easy, but taking a few frames of brood and bees is another and is also simple. There is lots of info on here, and the net on making splits. But if you are buying a queen wait until she arrives before making the split. Your drawn comb can also be used for building your splits. I don't know what your hive beetle situation is in your area so keep that in mind. In any event I would feed your swarm and your split 1/1 syrup to help them along and to build comb.
    There are different theories/reasons why and how much, but generally, yes you should feed. In general that's what I would do. There is more but, until you decide on some of these things, that is what I would do. JMO

    More help is here if you need it. GOOD LUCK!!!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Brunswick, North Carolina
    Posts
    172

    Default Re: Is it too late to do a split ?

    Thank lyou for the response Bee Havin-

    I really do not know why my hives have plummeted- I had a couple of them do the exact same thing last year- I treat all my hives in the spring as directed with apivar and with oxalic acid vapor in the fall when it is cool enough to close the hives up for 10 minutes - I do not believe mites are the problem- I also do not see crawling sick bees. Both hives this year and last year which crashed were some of my strongest hives - bees had been spilling out prior to pulling the honey supers- so many bees that when I did harvest honey I had to put on empty supers to give them room. Now 3-4 weeks later - there is no evidence of a queen in two of those hives, what appears to be one partial frame of unattended eggs in one of them and very few bees - maybe a frame or frame and a half if they were all on one frame. I do not think it was swarming - there just are not enough bees left over in the hives and I see no swarm cells for new queens - absconding maybe ? But do hives abscond on mass and why would they do so ? It should be noted that as far as I know both these hives had queens that were at a minimum over a year old - I do not routinely requeen hives that seem to be doing well.

    Thank you for your help - I think I am going to attempt a split, find a queen and install all on drawn comb - I just got some pro feeders from Mann Lake so I will feed with them - I don't want to feed from outside the hive because robbing has been a bit of a problem this year.

    And yes, we do have winter here in my part of NC - probably about what you would call a warm spring in Minnesota !

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    sparta, tn
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Is it too late to do a split ?

    After you harvested your honey, did you place any equipment outside for the bees to clean up? If so, did you see any evidence of robbing, dead bees at the entrance of the hives, wax droppings on bottom board and completely empty drawn comb? as you stated, robbing is really bad this year. Even a large hive can be emptied in just a couple of days and if the queen was killed, it goes downhill fast.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hotlanta, GA
    Posts
    764

    Default Re: Is it too late to do a split ?

    Personally I would buy mated queens and move the splits to a new yard a couple of miles away at least and feed them like crazy. At least that's exactly what I did yesterday.
    Ask two beekeepers, get three answers

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Winona MN USA
    Posts
    252

    Default Re: Is it too late to do a split ?

    I'm thinking they swarmed, and then after swarmed. You may not see any sign of empty queen cells as they often tear them down shortly after hatching. After swarms can empty a hive very quickly, and if they left you queen less, they are domed. The time it takes for a after swarm to leave is just minutes as they are smaller. Another reason I say this is that second year queens are a lot more likely to swarm. Even though you harvested honey, the crowded condition you described leads me to believe they were already in their swarm preparation mode. Giving them room after they get swarming in their head it's very hard to stop. Giving them room usually doesn't help. Only removing the old queen to a new location usually stops the swarm instinct. If after swarming there are no young enough larva to produce queen cells you won't see any queen cells. I'm betting that's what happened. But what do I know?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Brunswick, North Carolina
    Posts
    172

    Default Re: Is it too late to do a split ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bee Havin View Post
    I'm thinking they swarmed, and then after swarmed. You may not see any sign of empty queen cells as they often tear them down shortly after hatching. After swarms can empty a hive very quickly, and if they left you queen less, they are domed. The time it takes for a after swarm to leave is just minutes as they are smaller. Another reason I say this is that second year queens are a lot more likely to swarm. Even though you harvested honey, the crowded condition you described leads me to believe they were already in their swarm preparation mode. Giving them room after they get swarming in their head it's very hard to stop. Giving them room usually doesn't help. Only removing the old queen to a new location usually stops the swarm instinct. If after swarming there are no young enough larva to produce queen cells you won't see any queen cells. I'm betting that's what happened. But what do I know?
    That sounds like as reasonable an explanation for the dying hive as I am likely to have now and probably about the most logical one at that. . Well I lost/am losing 2 hives to this condition but I caught 2 swarms early this spring that look like they are going to be viable going into winter so I guess I haven't really made out too badly.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lexington, VA, USA
    Posts
    465

    Default Re: Is it too late to do a split ?

    Why not combine your caught swarms with the queenless splits. Easier to do and beefs up your swarms for winter. Also saves money. Then you could split the combined hives in spring.

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