I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    Scipio, Indiana
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    68

    Default I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    I've got (5) first year hives that have been doing very well. I've been feeding them a 1:1 mix all season. I live in South Central Indiana.

    I'm interested in expanding for the purpose of selling honey to friends, family, neighbors etc.

    1 of my hives is heavily populated. I've not seen a queen cell, but I have seen a cluster of drone cells yesterday. I'm thinking it's time to split but don't know how to proceed.

    Can someone provide advise on how to expand for the above mentioned proposes?

    Many thanks

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    7,775

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    My advice is to treat your mites effectively. Strong colonies, I would recommend apiguard. Put a shim or rim a couple inches deep and set the apiguard over the top bars in the middle so the bees have to deal with it.

    Weigh your hives and feed any 2:1 syrup that do not weigh 125 pounds. My target wintering weight is 125 to 140 for two deep brood chambers. Use the rim you used for the apiguard to hold two one gallon zip lock bags of syrup after the bees are treated

    Wrap those bees with tarpaper in November to keep the wind out. Bore a one inch hole in the upper brood box for a winter entrance/ventilation right below the handhold right thru the tarpaper. Staple around hole cut in the wrap to insure airflow stays open. Put a couple sheets of newspaper over top bars, wdet it with water, set that 2" rim on top and dump in a ten pound bag of sugar. Put a 16x20" sheet of plastic over the sugar so it will float down and keep the bees from clustering above the frames. Put on an inner cover of soundboard or biltrite to absorb moisture. Put on a cover of 2" epe insulation to prevent water freezing over cluster in hive. Fold wrap over top and set on summer cover held down by fine large rock or brick. 1 January order at least one queen per hive to make splits and requeen for delivery first week of April. I use Carpenter Apiaries in Frostproof Fla and Gentrys in Northern Ca.

    Leave bees alone until February. Carefully open top. I like to do it on a cold still day so bees are not active. If bees have eaten most of sugar, add bricks made previously. Two cups water mixed into ten pounds sugar untill all sugar damp then pressed into form of dixie paper soup bowl makes good ones. Add pollen patty on top of clustered bees. Put plastic back on, soundboard,replace if wet; insulation ect.

    Return in ten days prepared to add two pollen patties and more sugar bricks. Never let bees run out of patties. Continue the feeding until your queens arrive and split your hives. Requeen any that had really kept you busy feeding supplimental sugar. You will be drawing second brood boxes so continue feeding until the second brood box is full of brood and bees.

    I killed literally hundreds of hives before I learned to winter this way. My only losses are queen failures and last year I got stupid and didn't treat mites in a yard that was on a flow til mid September. Mites killed all but four!

    Since you want to xpand and make a crop, try this. When making splits, I will put an excluder over a single brood box. I will move a frame of brood over the excluder after brushing off the bees and surround it with a deep of foundation. When the bees have drawn that deep super or multiple supers full, I will extract them and use that drawn comb as the second brood box. B sure to do this beginning of August. It is time to kill mites and feed that second brood box full of 2:1 syrup. WARNING. After pulling those deep supers, immediately feed the bees as he bottom deep may have no honey at all and thebees can quickly starve.

    Long winded, but this works every time it is done just like I layed it out. Leave out any elements and it probably won't work. Some fools think their pine bee boxes are fine hardwood furniture and can't drill that one inch hole right below the handhold in the upper box! The warranty is also voided if your silliness extends to SBBs.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Dade county, Mo.
    Posts
    195

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    Vance, your post is worthy of a bookmark for a beginner. Thanks.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,775

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    I didn't really answer his question. Not now would be the answer. If you do this, you will have many options for splitting. The easiest is to equalize bees and brood between the brood boxes and three days later, requeen the one that has emergency cells. All those cells need to die or the bought queen will. Something else I forgot. Super very early. Hives wintered this way make a crop off dandelions and fruit, even maples.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Shelby, Missouri USA
    Posts
    526

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    Here is a link sheet that shows a couple of different ways to split hives...

    http://nwba.njbeekeepers.org/documen..._of_splits.pdf

    Good luck...

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Fargo, North Dakota
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    If you plan on selling honey, you also have to quit feeding 1:1 all season so they make honey!

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Scipio, Indiana
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    My bees have made lots of honey. It's been very good production for 1st year hives. I would think that they would eat the sugar water rather then the honey their storing. I could be wrong.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Roxboro, North Carolina
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    155

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    Quote Originally Posted by JTGaraas View Post
    If you plan on selling honey, you also have to quit feeding 1:1 all season so they make honey!
    Amen!

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Roxboro, North Carolina
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    155

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    Quote Originally Posted by Scottankarens View Post
    My bees have made lots of honey. It's been very good production for 1st year hives. I would think that they would eat the sugar water rather then the honey their storing. I could be wrong.
    Alot of the honey they are storing is from the sugar water. Oldest trick in the book or one of them at least. Know of beeks that feed sugar water to make lots of honey and then sell it. It has no or very little of honeys benefits. Even worse some feed HFCS and then sell that for honey. If you get a good reputation for selling real honey the world will beat a path to your door.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Fargo, North Dakota
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    J.Lee hit the nail on the head! Qualifies for "master carpenter/beekeeper".

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
    Posts
    1,762

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    I've got (5) first year hives that have been doing very well. I've been feeding them a 1:1 mix all season
    My bees have made lots of honey. It's been very good production for 1st year hives
    LOL... I bet "production" has been great. add some food coloring to the syrup, you will clearly see were it ends up
    Wait till spring to split, look in to OTS queen rearing

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Scipio, Indiana
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    68

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Lee View Post
    Alot of the honey they are storing is from the sugar water. Oldest trick in the book or one of them at least. Know of beeks that feed sugar water to make lots of honey and then sell it. It has no or very little of honeys benefits. Even worse some feed HFCS and then sell that for honey. If you get a good reputation for selling real honey the world will beat a path to your door.
    Noted!
    I'm a 2nd year bee keeper. So I'm still in the infant stages of learning. So when should 1 feed?or should I? I've read a lot of conflicting reports on feeding. I appreciate the feedback!

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    Fargo, North Dakota
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    All beekeeping is local - watch for blooming flowers in spring; I presume from onset of dandelions (first noticed blooms) until October hard-freeze, the bees are on their own. Lone exception is starting a package with a single feeding (using a frame of unthawed honey). In the fall, be prepared to use 2:1 sugar mix to fill out hive honey deficiencies, if any exist. I try to over-winter in 3-deep OR 2-deep/1-honey medium hives. In those springs that arrive early, but never seem to develop plant activity - be prepared to feed every year due to increased, but non-productive hive activity.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    washington, vermont, USA
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    365

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    I wouldn't do any splits this year. At this point in the year it can still he done but my suggestion is do a lot of reading and come at it next year with a clear plan on where you want to be and how to get there from your current numbers and resources. Fast expansion is possible I have gone from 2 hives this spring to 14 currently and the only bees I bought was 4 queens cause I wanted to buy them I had cells. But I had a clear plan this spring, I had a couple overwinters hives not first year hives, and I have a flow almost all summer so I wasn't trying to fight the bees to expand. You will have to choose though between rapid expansion and honey harvest. All my extra honey from strong colonies has gone to my new splits. Also one last thing drone cells do not mean your hive is getting ready to swarm, bees want to have some drones in their hive mine are probably 5% drones at least and they're doing great don't be afraid of drones.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Champaign, Illinois
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    2,461

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    To increase do like the advice in this thread. Build a pair of queen castles for next spring. Build a half-dozen nucs and hang on for the ride.
    If you do like Vance suggests you'll be either splitting all hives in April or May or you can wait til they start swarm preparation and take frames with swarm cells to the queen castles and/or nucs. Before you know it you'll have more bees than you can shake a stick at.
    When you take them queen cells put back fresh undrawn frames and that's your swarm prevention model.

    Better be prepared to have ten or fifteen hives next year if not more because you'll probably catch a swarm or maybe two.
    Spend the time this fall and winter getting ready and don't forget to treat this fall for mites or you'll be back to square one.
    If you got a table saw...get busy. Save some cash for that black friday sale and buy at least 200 deep frames, 100 medium frames, and foundations if you can. This means building twenty deeps and 10 mediums. It'll pay off.

    Your year three honey crop will astound you if you can get to fifteen next year.
    Second year is rough because you run out of gear constantly.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Fayette, IL
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    You missed your window this year I think, I am at nearly the same latitude as you, but over in IL. I did some splits with mated queens on July 17, I think that is about as late as one wants to try it here(this one anyway). They need enough time to build up and put stores on for winter.

    That said, you should be in great shape to do some OTS splits and still get some honey production from the parent colonies. Would probably happen around the second or third week in April for your area? You need to look for a club in your area or another beekeeper with experience and talk with them about the timing for your area. If this is your first year, just be happy to have them overwinter, don't be surprised when/if you lose some, it happens. Start making plans for next year, see where you are in the spring and go from there.
    -David Zone 6a

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
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    398

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    I am in OH, and our easiest time for splits is from mid May to mid June. There is a lot of nectar and pollen available, so the bees can easily feed queen cells (that requires a strong 10 frame hive with one frame open brood, lots of nurse bees - and it's a minimum - or the queens won't be fed enough). This time of year, if you really want to split, it is said that you need to simulate a nectar flow to get the nurse bees to be primed to take care of queen cells.

    Sounds like you have been feeding, and getting the bees to think it is a nectar flow. If you really want to split, here are some thoughts. First, you have to realize that a hive has 6 components that need to be sorted optimally - 1) foragers (who are locked to their hive location - don't mess with that), 2) nurse bees (AKA future foragers), 3) capped brood (AKA future nurse bees), 4) open brood/eggs, which is just COMPETITION for the bees who would other wise make honey or queen cells, 5)pollen and nectar stores, and 6) da queen. Extra nectar/honey is not counted because it is less helpful to raising new bees. Honey has to be diluted to be fed to brood so it is work.

    Do you want the foragers + nurses to be responsible for feeding the queen cell? then they can go on to make lots of honey. Do you want the queen to keep the foragers, and move most of the nurses/capped brood/resouces to 2 new locations? just be sure it is a 10 frame hive with each frame pretty covered in bees, with frames of capped brood, stores, and queen bar/eggs for queen cells. That's a great brood break for all 3 hives. I suggest diagramming it out... Michael Bush has a great page on options about splitting.

    There are 2 other key things to consider.
    1) Bees prefer to make queen cells with fresh new cells, NOT out of old brood comb. Old brood comb is too hard to reshape and compromises the queen's growth. Of course, you could graft a larvae into a queen cup. Not my cup of tea. If you prefer to let them make the queen cell, then in the QUEENRIGHT hive before you split, cut out a section of comb in a foundation frame, or insert a foundationless frame. That is the frame you will use for the queenless hive to build queen cells. You can do it after you split too so that you can be sure you have the queen in the hive you think you do!

    2) Many virgins enter, only one leaves... usually anyways. You really need at least 2 hives with queen cells to be SURE to get 1 hive with a laying queen. When the lone surviving virgin goes out (in my beeyard anyways) I have about 50-75% chance of her coming back to lay. Plan for failure early on, where you need to recombine a failed split, before they develop laying workers and develop foragers locked to that location.

    Once I realized those 2 issues were at the heart of successful splitting, it helped me understand why there are so many different ways with all these steps for splitting or queen rearing.

    OK, a very serious caution: this time of year the bees want to get ready for winter. They want to rear healthy "winter bees", who are born right around now, who ideally have a pampered life without needing to forage or feed the babies cuz their older sisters can do that. This allows the winter bees to have the longest life span possible. If you split now, you will force some of those winter bees to feed and to forage cuz their older sisters aren't there. They will not be able to help get the hive through winter and spring brood rearing; they will die too young.

    Bees also want to store honey now, not make new comb. For my splits this year, I am feeding the ones who do not yet have enough comb to fill 2 deeps. I am feeding 1:1 reliably, to simulate a nectar flow. I am inserting empty bars (I have top bar hives) in the brood nest so the bees will make more comb, not just backfill existing comb and force the queen to stop laying. For the other hives who have enough comb, I will not feed unless we get to early Sept and they have 2-5 combs of nectar or honey only, and the rest empty combs. They I'll feed 2:1 sugar syrup so they can store it as honey. I feed as a tool to accomplish something - keep bees from starving in spring if it rains, trigger comb building, or to allow the bees to store it as pseudo-honey. I also flavor my sugar syrup lightly with raspberry tea - any "honey" I get that tastes of raspberry is thusly only from my own sugar syrup. I still like it but I can't sell it!

    Having said all this about winter bees being put at risk with splitting now, I just heard a talk from an accomplished BeeK who splits in mid July for the brood break. And she has very good winter survival. I prefer to work with the bees' instincts so I don't have to work too hard! So I split in early May, so I have time to fix any failed splits with more eggs to make queen cells. Sure needed it this year!

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: I'm interested in expanding but not sure how to split

    Tmrw I will tell the story of how I split this year. But I have to go do garden chores now - it won't rain so I have to water!

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