Fly-back splits, Ray's way
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  1. #1
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    Default Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    OK, here is the way that I like for making up fly-back splits. I thought I'd post it to share as I get asked about it now and then. These can be done when you have a hive of 2 boxes in strength, and works better when a flow is on, but can be done with feeders if needed.

    Doing a flyback split

    OK, here ya go...

    Take with you a box with 10 frames of foundation, 2 top boards and 2 bottom boards. Remove the 4 center frames of foundation, setting them aside for now. Go through your 2 box hive, and get a frame that is full of open nectar and put in the edge of the central space you now have in the hew box.

    Next, find a frame of drawn but mostly empty comb to put next to the nectar frame, this is so the queen will have open cells to continue laying. This is important, you don't want her to slow down or suddenly have to stop laying.

    Next to that open cells frame, put the frame you find the queen on, with her on it.

    Next to that, put in a frame of sealed/emerging brood. This gives the queen young nurse bees to help with the brood she has and will continue to make.

    Set this box on it's own bottom board with new top board or boards, in the spot that the 2 box hive was in.

    Now, grab the 4 frames of foundation you set aside, and the spare top and bottom boards, and bring them as you move the rest of the two boxes remaining to new stands. Equalize those to box's frames with each other so they both have frames of: eggs/youngest larva, older open larva, sealed brood, and stores. Put a frame of foundation on each outside edge of both boxes, that takes care of the four frames of foundation you had extra from making up the queen's artificial swarm box. Set them on their own bottom boards and give them their top boards.

    The queen you left in place will get all the foraging aged bees from the two boxes you moved away. She'll get the most of them the first day or three, but will continue to get some for two weeks, since bees go back into the hive for two weeks after their first orientation flights before they become forager aged. The old queens bees will draw comb, they have to in order to keep the queen laying. This has created an artificial swarm with a head start of a bare 4 frame nucleus in the center of the box.

    The two boxes you moved to new stands will make their own queens. They will lose their older foraging force to the old queen's swarm box you made. This leaves younger bees in them which are the best for making new queens, and for feeding all the open brood they have. These two also got most of the stores frames, so they will be fine with stores to keep feeding open larva and making new queens.

    In 12 +/- 1 days new queens will be emerging in the two new hives. Check them on day 9-11 after making them up to be sure they both do have sealed queen cells. The queen will emerge and be laying 2 weeks after emerging, sometimes up to 3 weeks after emerging, but usually after 2 weeks. So, that will mean you should have eggs in them from new laying queens 28 days after setting all of this up.

    You should end up with the original queen hive, and 2 additional hives with 2 new laying queens, all 3 full in single boxes. Depending on the time of year in your area, you may need to start feeding. Check the original queen's box 3 days to a week after setting this all up, if they are not drawing comb yet, then they might need a feeder at this time to draw comb. The other two hives should not really need a feeder until you see eggs laid from the new queen. This way, the danger of robbing is greatly reduced by not having a feeder on a non laying queen hive. Once they are laying, feeders can be given if needed. (I am assuming there was a few frames of stores in these boxes when they were made up.)

    If you can follow all of this, then it may be an option for you to try. If you feel it's a bit much at this time in your experience, then it's something you can think about for next year. Good luck with your adventures in beekeeping!

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Very nice instructions Ray.
    For those who might have trouble locating the queen, could you add instructions on how to isolate the queen during the process.
    To everything there is a season....

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Yea ray, That is what I am thinking about now. I did my last one with the goal of only ending up with two hives and not three. Back then, I still had a chance of getting a laying queen and still having some flow left and it did work and I did get some honey off of the young bee and all the brood hive. I also got lots of comb drawn and full of stores on the old bee part hive at the original location.

    This year, I think our main flow will end near the end of june. I was expecting the hives to try and swarm but none have yet. I have a few hives that I don't believe are going to give much excess honey. I have been running it around in my brain of maybe trying a few flyback splits around the 15th of june and hoping not to have to feed too much and maybe catch a little of the fall flow if we have one.

    I am trying to decide the pitfalls of such a plan. I wintered a single medium last year and believe that the old bee part that has the queen could easily draw that amount in the time I have though if they don't do it in the first few weeks, I have had issue of getting comb drawn later even feeding ungodly amounts of sugar. I am pretty sure they would make it though.

    I have lots of equipment but don't really want to set up a bunch of failures that won't winter. I think there is plenty of time but have not decided yet to do it.

    I know it was the favorite thing I did when I did it in middle/late april.
    I like that you laid out the makeup that you felt made the old hive balanced.
    This is so easy to do that it seems a shame not to and that is why I am thinking on it. I don't really need more hives but it just seems wasteful not to do it.
    Thanks for posting.
    gww

    Ps the worst part is that I would like queens from my biggest hives and not the ones I am splitting if I were to split.
    zone 5b

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Excellent instructions and timely. Thanks Ray.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    Very nice instructions Ray.
    For those who might have trouble locating the queen, could you add instructions on how to isolate the queen during the process.
    OH Mike, thanks for the added pressure here..

    Sure, I'll see what I can come up with.
    First of all, experience. It takes some of us a bit of time trying.
    Next, marked queens are the only way to go. Even if you are good at finding queens, marking them makes the whole adventure so much more quick and enjoyable.

    Queens lay eggs, so that's where she's at, on the frames with eggs and youngest larva. But then we get those pesky SHY queens that just run on along ahead of you as you are pulling frames. Those are the ones that are on the last 20th frame in the box that you pull out to inspect. So, when pulling a frame to check, especially if you are in the egg/youngest larva area of the hive, scan the next frame behind the frame you are pulling out as you pull it. Especially if she's marked, many times you'll see her there on that next frame.

    OK, now for another trick, split the top box off and set it on a bottom board, and go pour yourself a cup of coffee and wait ten minutes. After ten or 15 minutes, come back and look at both halves. The calm quiet one will have the queen in it. The loud noisey one with agitated bees and nasonov fanning will be the one that she is not in.

    And finally, an old trick that many have never heard of, is to put in a frame with eggs/young open larva from a different hive, with the original bees all shook off, into the center of the top box and put on the lid. That frame has brood with the smell of a different queen on it, and the queen in this hive will come to inspect and spread her pheromones to claim it as her own. after 3-5 minutes, go back in and quickly remove that frame. A very good percentage of the time, the queen will be on it.

    OK, I know I said finally on the last one, but another way that helps is to smoke under the lid fairly heavily, then wait 3-5 minutes and split the boxes. Most of the time the queen has run down to the lower box.

    OK, hope this helps. I know that me, if the queen isn't marked, I sometimes have a very difficult finding the queen. I find it hardest in hives with mostly dark bees that have a darker queen, or what I call a darker ring striped queen, as she looks so much the same color and pattern of the other bees in the hive. That's why I say, having a marked queen can be a real time saver, even for those of you that are good at finding them.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    Yea ray, That is what I am thinking about now. I did my last one with the goal of only ending up with two hives and not three...

    Ps the worst part is that I would like queens from my biggest hives and not the ones I am splitting if I were to split.
    So, if you have a fully populated single box hive, you can do the flyback and get only one split off it eh? That would get you two hives, and not need to do it on a stronger two box hive. There are options to any method.

    OK, here's what you do. After setting this all up, 7-9 days later, go into the box or boxes moved away and destroy all queen cells. Shake the bees off every frame and check close, all cells need to be destroyed. The bees will get mean on you doing this, as you are making them desperate and hopeless. When that's done, slip in a frame that has plenty of eggs from the best queen in your yard. Go ahead and shake all the bees off it to insure you don't move a queeen, the box will have plenty of bees to build cells as most of the sealed brood from initially setting this all up have emerged. This time, they will draw a lot of very large good cells as they are desperate and hopeless, and you'll get cells from your best queen to be daughters. You can cut out cells and give to other nucs too, at the nine to ten day mark after doing this.

    Hope this helps, and as always, modifications can be done for different situations.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    what happened to mike's post quoted in ray's post #4?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    what happened to mike's post quoted in ray's post #4?
    Post #2.

    Edit: refreshed my page and it is gone! Well, it was post #2 ...

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Ray
    Thanks for taking on my question. I was thinking out loud like I always do on things I have never tried and am fearful I am missing stuff that may make a difference. I had thought about destroying cells and replacing but then that is ten more days after already starting late. I know lots make stuff later but I never have and that is where the fear comes in. Your advice to me has always been spot on. I am going to just think about it all and then see if I wake up one day and just do something. That seems to be how I handle things and this is just home work to give me a chance of success and to not be shooting blind.
    Thanks for taking the time and effort to address what I had ask.
    Thanks
    gww
    Last edited by gww; 06-07-2018 at 08:38 AM.
    zone 5b

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up Ray. Always looking for different approaches to splitting.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Ray,

    Can new laying queens be added to the two splits that are queenless instead of having them make their own queens? Would this gain a few weeks of extra brood?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Thanks for the post Ray. Easy to follow and well thought out. Great for new beeks like me that worry when splitting! A couple questions for you:

    Can you provide a guideline on the minimum amount of brood that should be going into the queenless, forager-less splits? (I know as with everything that a lot of variables likely go into this, but if you assume good weather, during a nectar flow and putting them into a nuc perhaps?)

    And, can you explain to me why one might chose to do a flyback split as opposed to a split where the queenright section of the hive is moved to the new location? Presumably there are pros and cons to each method?

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    what happened to mike's post quoted in ray's post #4?
    i see that mike's post #2 is back.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    I want to try "fly back" this season.

    My question:
    * this thread talks about building "head start of a bare 4 frame nucleus in the center of the box"
    * but here is a thread that says "the established queen and ONE or two frames of open brood & adhearing bees".
    From: https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...11#post1168911

    So what gives? What is better? Why?
    4 frames vs. 1 frame.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame experimentation.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    greg
    I put zero nurse bees in and one frame of brood with a queen cell, one or two frames of honey and empty foundationless frames in the one I did early last year and it did great. It does make me wonder if it would have even did better if I would have given it more young bees. I did not have a queen cause the hive I did it on had already swarmed. So to your question, I imagine how many frames and the young bees adds speed to the build up. Sorta like one brrod frame split compared to a four brood comb split.

    I only point this out cause my split with no young bees and only a medium frame of brood with no bees on it, the old bees if they only live 20/30 days during a flow should have been dead before the queen started laying but it was my best split and I did not feed it and did the others. It must be pretty forgiving on the brood added part or I just got lucky as heck. All I did was move the whole hive sideways and put a box and one or two frames of honey and one frame of brood with a queen cell on it in a box where the old hive used to be. It could not have been easier.

    I have never made a traditional split yet where I pull the queen and some brood comb and moved them 3 miles. I did this type of split cause it can be done in the same yard. I screwed it up by conventional wisdom cause at the time I did not know better and it was still the best thing I did.

    Late splits scare me cause of the 50/60 days before the first brood hatches.
    I did learn that old bees have no problem drawing comb.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    I want to try "fly back" this season.

    My question:
    * this thread talks about building "head start of a bare 4 frame nucleus in the center of the box"
    * but here is a thread that says "the established queen and ONE or two frames of open brood & adhearing bees".
    From: https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...11#post1168911

    So what gives? What is better? Why?
    4 frames vs. 1 frame.
    The 4 frames listed above:
    1. open nectar
    2. drawn empty comb
    3. frame w/ queen
    4 capped brood
    This is 2 frames of brood & bees...a lot like "ONE or two frames of open brood & adhearing bees"
    Regards,
    KGB-8Fmed

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Its not... its still 4 DRAWN frames with the concept your giving the queen space to lay
    The reverse is you don't give them space to lay, with the concept you are triggering waxbuilding responce ad kick them in to wax drawing mode and keep them there as the hive expands. very much super vs nadir with 2 different reactions

    Now like all things beekeeping "best" is often subjective.. Does 4 vs 2 matter...maybe, maybe not... both seem to be very effective !!!!! so try them both if your worried.
    I have always done 2
    here's a "golden mean" KTBH hive I did a FBS in to 32 days ago with a comb of open brood and a comb of stores, then came by and checker boarded it at 10 days when I came back to split and move cells form the QL side and again at 24 days when I came by to do the 1st check on mate out.
    Its got comb all the way to the back, bees on every bar, the hive filled up fast and while it may have 1/3 more space to draw still everything is nice and strait.
    photo 1.jpg photo 2.jpg
    Last edited by msl; 06-07-2018 at 04:19 PM.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    I suppose my goals for the FBS are:

    * do push them into a "swarming" mode (as close as possible to the true swarm mode - which is zero drawn frames); this is to generate as much new natural comb as possible - as I am in my second season of cell regression with these bees and need to try and see what cell size they build if starting from scratch.

    * also, this FBS will be the way I implement my July brood breaks (see OTS).

    With these in mind, it maybe I want as strong shock as possible - one drawn frame KBS in one hive/2 drawn frame KBS on the other hive (whichever hive is weaker, will get 2 drawn frames). This will be done during the July flow as well.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame experimentation.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    Ray
    Thanks for taking on my question. I was thinking out loud like I always do on things I have never tried and am fearful I am missing stuff that may make a difference. I had thought about destroying cells and replacing but then that is ten more days after already starting late. I know lots make stuff later but I never have and that is where the fear comes in. Your advice to me has always been spot on. I am going to just think about it all and then see if I wake up one day and just do something. That seems to be how I handle things and this is just home work to give me a chance of success and to not be shooting blind.
    Thanks for taking the time and effort to address what I had ask.
    Thanks
    gww
    There are many ways to do a split or make up splits, and a flyback split is probably not the way to go about getting daughters from your favourite queen or queens.

    The flyback is geared more for preventing swarming, getting wax drawn, and increasing hive count numbers. During a flow it also gets some honey production going. As far as making increase from your best queens, there's other ways that might be more advantageous for that.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Fly-back splits, Ray's way

    Quote Originally Posted by couesbro View Post
    Ray,

    Can new laying queens be added to the two splits that are queenless instead of having them make their own queens? Would this gain a few weeks of extra brood?
    Yes they can, but it might be a little problematic as the splits made are not hopelessly queenless, and sometimes they'd rather kill an introduced queen instead. The way to do that with a fly-back would be to wait a week, destroy all cells made, then introduce the new queen. This of course would be counter productive to the idea of saving time of brooding downtime. There are many ways to make up splits or nucs for introducing queens, and one of them may be more advantageous than a fly-back split for doing so.

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