I've got a guesthouse with teak posts that the stingless bees (Tetragonula Pagdenis) love. I've got four active colonies that live inside the teak posts and now I am attempting a soft split with a new box I build from internet suggestion. It has been three days since I attached my box and upon opening the top lid to have a look I was pleasantly surprised to see the bees had begun sealing the inside cracks and edges with propolis. How thrilling! here are a few pics
"Soft split" meaning that the bees are coaxed out of their existing home; log, tree, wall etc into a new hive box attached to the entrance via some kind of tube which forces the bees to travel through the new box out to the world until they become accustomed to the new environment and begin "colonizing" the new box. Once the colony is well under way and a queen appears then the new box can be removed and transported to wherever you wish.
"Hard split" meaning opening the hive and scooping out brood, eggs, queen cells and food and plopping it all into a new box.
* "...a queen appears" - that could mean a new queen from the original hive is born and moves in to the new hive (not likely), or it could be from workers make queen cells in the new hive and the queen is born in the new box once the basic foundation of the colony is established. I am sure, and I hope that someone else could elaborate on this.
* After queen appears in the new box either sever the attachment and move the box, or cut a hole in the connecting tube (better to do this beforehand and then tape it over for easy removal later) so that bees can enter the tube and go to either the original colony of the new colony. If not done the original queen may come into the new hive and kill the new queen.
* Moving the box - be sure that there is an adequate food source specific to these bees.
I have learned all of this from this forum, you tube and other beeks. I am no expert, but I am leaning by doing. Loving it!
Three days into my soft split. Very premature to be checking, but I couldnt help myself. The attached photos show the bees sealing cracks and investigating this new cavity. Also, they have decided that the 10 mm entrance hole needs to be smaller and they are working on sealing that. It appears that the bees are attracted to the modeling clay that I used to seal the tube between existing post and my new box. either they are eating it or they are recycling the sticky, gooey bits to their own purposes. I dont know, but in the photos they are clearly interested in the clay.entrance-sealing.jpgInside-cracks-seaed.jpgInside-cracks-seaed-front.jpg
After a little further research i think it is more likely that when doing a split the queen from original colony would move into new box and begin to lay eggs rather than workers laying eggs to make a queen as I suggested in my previous post. I know that Apis Melifera (Western honey bee) workers will lay eggs resulting in either new queen or drones. What happens after that I don't know. Is original hive is now without a queen and dies out? or the original queen moves back after a new queen is established in the new box? and, so why would I need to make a hole in the connecting tube so that bees have a choice of which hive to go to which supposedly eliminates the likelyhood of queens from the two colonies fighting to the death?
These questions come after viewing two different sources on you tube. https://youtu.be/1qaLdGcopFU
Update - The bees are hard at work inside my new split box attached to the teak post at my guesthouse and it appears that they are making use of the modeling clay that I used to seal around the incoming tube to make their hive infrastructure. They are building around the tube inside the new box as it juts out coming inside. Otherwise, they are also working on the bottom mesh that I laid down on top of broken bamboo strips for space off the floor of the box, and they are also sealing up the edges and corners of the box with normal (black) propolis.
When I first inserted the tube in to the teak post, before I attached the new box, I thought it strange that the bees were paying a lot of attention to the clay seal. Now i can see that they discovered that it is useful to build with. The clay remains very soft and not very sticky like propolis. I think in the really hot weather here it will sag and maybe drop off. I think it would be best to remove it. I'll post some pics before I cut it away.