Making splits with caged queens
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Reno, Nevada, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Making splits with caged queens

    Help! We tried making 3 splits with caged queens but none were successful. In all 3 of them, the queens were not released from the cage and died. What did we do wrong?

    For split #1 we took 2 frames of capped brood and 1 frame of honey with a few shakes of bees and put it in 8 frame deep box.

    For splits #2 and 3 we took 4 frames of capped brood without bees and put it in a box on top of a strong hive with queen excluder underneath. We left it overnight for nurse bees to move up into the top box. Then we used those frames of capped brood to form the splits #2 and 3.
    Each 8-frame deep box for the splits had 2 frames of capped brood and 1 frame of honey plus empty frames to fill out the box.

    We moved the splits away from the source hives but they were still close by (less than 50 feet) since we don't have many places to put the bees on our property.
    We left the splits queenless for several hours before installing the queen cages.

    When installing the caged queens, we removed the cork to expose the candy and put it cage side down between frames of brood. The bees were fanning and appeared to be accepting her.

    We had read posts on beesource that said to just let them eat through the candy to make sure they've had enough time to accept the queen and not to disturb the new hive for 10 days to allow the queen to become established. But when we checked them at 10 days, all the bees in the queen cages were dead. Some candy had been eaten from the inside of the cage but otherwise it appeared that the bees had not been trying to release the queen.

    Also the frames of honey in each of the splits had collapsed in the heat making a mess inside the boxes and inducing some robbing...not sure if this also contributed to the failure to release the queens or if this should be a separate post for another time? We are running foundationless frames.

    Thanks in advance for any advice!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,244

    Default Re: Making splits with caged queens

    It is hard to tell exactly what is going on. Local conditions vary so not all advice transfer equally. But, I have a always had queens released by just removing the cork. I know some people use a small nail to poke a hole in the candy.

    I am wondering if the hive temps are getting too high with smaller bee numbers? I am also wondering if you are getting brood/bee numbers out of balance? Or, are they getting robbed out before they can become established?

    I would try nuc boxes with a very small entrance, one or two bees at a time. I like to have a frame of capped brood and a frame of open brood, but no eggs/larvae under three days old. I don't want the bees to think they can make their own queen. I would do this when there is at least a little nectar flow to reduce the robbing pressure.

    I don't usually have to deal with the daytime temps you do so I am not sure how a small nuc would deal with them. You might want to look at how Randy Oliver makes splits. His environmental conditions are a lot closer to yours than mine.

    Tom

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    4,577

    Default Re: Making splits with caged queens

    Bee numbers too low to control hive temperature. They have to bring in water and fan it off for evaporative cooling. If the wax is collapsing it is too hot for brood. Your method of populating the frames and moving the splits a short distance may have lost all the flying bees.

    My son makes many splits just as you describe but much much cooler climate.
    Frank

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
    Posts
    1,467

    Default Re: Making splits with caged queens

    have you checked for queen cells?
    Lawrence Heafner
    15 hives; 17 years; TF for 12; Zone 7B

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Lima, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    760

    Default Re: Making splits with caged queens

    Candy can be a very imperfect timing mechanism for releasing a queen. They can sometimes get though it in a less than a day, and sometimes never quite get though it. My perfered method is to not remove the cork, but to check in 3 days and manually release if they aren't still trying to ball or chew on the cage. If she isn't accepted yet, I try again in a day or two. It's much more reliable as it doesn't depend on the timing of the candy, or the variables of queen acceptance. It also lets you react more quickly if the queen happens to die in the cage.

    After release, we then generally check the hive in a week to make sure she is laying and they arent still trying to build queen cells. Sometimes a caged queen may take a few days to begin laying, but in a week, she certainly should be.

    If you do rely on the candy for release, it doesn't hurt to check back in 3-4 days just to make sure she is out. It's a quick check and doesn't require pulling frames.

    However, as others have said, you likely had a temperature issue which complicated things. Typically not something I see in my area either.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Reno, Nevada, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Making splits with caged queens

    Thanks for the replies! Yes, we will for sure be checking back next time and not let them go more than 3 days before checking. No there weren't any sign of queen cells. The bees that were in there didn't make it. It was a mess. We don't recall coming across ANY information about not doing splits when temps were too high but that makes a lot of sense and I do think that was probably it. There may have been a little robbing but we did have the entrance reduced pretty small. So many possible variables to account for. We will wait for spring and try again as I believe we can meet the above mentioned criteria if our hives make it through winter. Thanks for the insight.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    6,739

    Default Re: Making splits with caged queens

    I agree:
    Move splits two miles to retain population
    Place in shade as to not overheat
    prevent robbing
    manual release queens after three days

    I have two way queen castles on division screens to allow small entrances with good ventilation. For queen cells the foam mating nucs are well ventilated and insulated for hot climate queen rearing.




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