Spring Splits?
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Thread: Spring Splits?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Darlington, SC
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    Default Spring Splits?

    SHB destroyed my hives this past fall and I finally lost 1 more in December leaving with 1 nice (Last I looked) two deep hive overwintering.

    I have local queens available to me just before the spring flow here in SC. How would you this situation to maximize honey and bee production?

    I also have about 15 empty honey and comb frames left over from dead outs, I plan on getting 3 packages and starting nuc's with them!!!!!!!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    You cannot maximize both honey and bee production. Buy three extra queens and split the packages in half to start six nucs. Give each nuc two drawn frames to get started on and feed like crazy. Leave the one good hive to be your production hive. You will get some honey and at least six more hives. If they do well, you will be able to split the nucs again in May or June and go into next year with 12 or more nucs. Or hive three and split three. Regardless, you should not plan on honey from any of the packages if you are trying to produce bees with them.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
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    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    You cannot maximize both honey and bee production. Buy three extra queens and split the packages in half to start six nucs. Give each nuc two drawn frames to get started on and feed like crazy. Leave the one good hive to be your production hive. You will get some honey and at least six more hives. If they do well, you will be able to split the nucs again in May or June and go into next year with 12 or more nucs. Or hive three and split three. Regardless, you should not plan on honey from any of the packages if you are trying to produce bees with them.
    You know this how? Sounds like a indisputable fact.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    Which part? Indisputable fact, no. Opinion based on personal experience and the learned experience of others, yes. If the OP's goal is only the four hives, he can certainly get a decent honey harvest, including from the packages. But if he is going to aggressivly split colonies to maximize bee production, honey will not be forthcoming from those colonies. That is why I would recommend leaving the overwintered hive as a production colony. What would you do in this situation?

    I will strive to better clarify my advice as opinion in the future.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
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    May 2014
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    Darlington, SC
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    Default

    I knew you couldnt do both honey and bees, I was hoping there was a secret out there like stacking a super on top of two nucs while the nucs grow.

    That said I went to my one hive today and it was bone dry. The land owner had told me there were bees all over the plants and pool earlier this week. I suspect they absconded. Why, I dunno. No wax moth, or chewed up comb, no dead SHB, I just dont know.

    So now I have 40 full frames to play with.

    JW, can you please elaborate on the two for one package idea. I understand the extra queens but two frames plus what? In a five frame nuc? What would the configuration look like?

    If too weak, wouldn't SHB be an issue?

    I have to tell ya, I started bee keeping in Vermont, and it was soooooo much easier even with the cold winters. I can not figure out how to keep bees from swarming and safe from SHB and wax moths. Only third year, so I am.still trying to figure it out.

  7. #6
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    Jan 2011
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    At the beginning of that honeyflow, catch that queen and put her in a nuc with two or three frames of her brood. One mosly capped and one mixed and the frame of pollen and fresh nectar besides the brood nest. The queenless hive will raise a new queen at optimum time and that strong colony not having brood to raise for three weeks, will store you a modest crop of honey. The old queen will build you a new colony and probably be superceded and you will have two hives with options of taking brood and bees off them to make splits with caged queens. See mdasplitter.com for winter reading. Good luck. I have used this method a lot.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    The secret on producing honey off splits is not a secret. Divide a deep box. I router out a 3/8" track as deep as the frame rest so the plywood division completely separates the box. Divide a bottom board and provide a two inch entrance at each end. I make fairly strong splits with caged queens and after ten days inspect to make sure both queens are cooking, I put a flat plastic or metal excluder on top. These vigorous new young queens are least likely to swarm so I use these often to draw foundation. Still safest to have a drawn bait frame or frame of wet brood right in the middle above. Of course shake off bees before moving it up so you don't transfer a queen.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    You can incorporate Vance's suggestion with my own by using a queen castle with only the center divder in place. That will give you two five frame nucs in a 10 frame box. Put a qe on top of that and then a super. If you start a medium frame in the bottom deep first, you move it up to the super after there is wet brood in it. You only need two drawn frames in each nuc side to start. Put foundation or starter strip frames in the other three slots. Divide the package bees evenly between the sides and Introduce the queens as normal. Once they get going and the now released queens are laying well, add the super and the qe. Most of the bees will continue to work out of their side of the hive but there will be some drift. If one queen has much stronger pheromones, there may be a lot of drift. Such is the nature of this type of set up.
    I don't know if removing the queen from your largest hive really produces more honey or not. I have done it twice, the first time it seemed to help but last year my harvest still was sub par. That may have been due to a poor nectar flow however. Still, it is a good way to make split without sacrificing honey. I did that split Easter last year, and made several nucs with the extra queen cells the parent colony produced. Hope this gives you some ideas.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    Sawyer County,WI USA
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    With some Beeks trending toward managing smaller colonies and smaller yards emphasizing survival over production, buying xtra queens and splitting packages seems a good way to grow into a sustainable population of bees.

    Splitting packages and finding/raising 'local' queens also seems a wise economic choice these days with the price of packages skyrocketing, all while suppliers offer little in the way of desired guarantees as they relate to queen suitability (or resistance to disease etc) for a particular region. Many Q suppliers seem resistant to offer guarantees, the type of guarantees recommended by Randy Oliver, the type needed by most of us due to the issues revolving around modern queens.

    This seems like a likely remedy and easy enough to adopt IMO.

    We generally split our survivor colonies as a longtime rule anyway, but have been considering simply purchasing 'queen less' packages, splitting them up and providing our own or another's local queen or from another like minded Beek.

    Is this a trend we should perhaps encourage?

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    im planning to split any non productive hives up this year and graft from my best queens.
    Grafting and raising queens was really intimidating to me initially but having had a couple cracks at it now and having had success its really not terribly challenging at all as it turns out. Just gotta time it all right.
    Im planning in late May/early June to split all the lower producing hives into nucs ( have 25 x 5 frame wooden nuc boxes i built) with 2 frames brood, 2 frames honey/pollen and a foundation frame.
    -> will try and time this so they are made up when my grafted cells are a day or two from emerging....timing is the key lol

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    Is this a trend we should perhaps encourage?
    No...
    make you own bees, importing in to your yard you risk pathagions... If you at all a good beekeeper there is no reason to ever buy bees, short of a castoftic event.
    run the numbers..
    3500 bees per pound, 7000 cells per deep frame, 0.5 pounds of cover bees on a full covered frame... call it 2 pounds of bees per full covered frame of capped brood filled to 75%.... poof "package"... most brood factorys will kick out at least one per week
    The internet is instant, and the internet is often wrong-Kim Flottum

  13. #12
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    washington, vermont, USA
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    I had the same thought as MSL make your own queenless "packages" and add a cell.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    With a goal of 25+ nucs to make this year, I was thinking about shaking a few homemade "packages" myself. Reduces the impact of removing so many bees from any individual colony. Much depends on my ability to get my grafted queens mated early in the season, but figure with 16 hives now, I should be able to shake 7 new nucs every week. Going to be a busy spring.

  15. #14
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    Dec 2015
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    Sawyer County,WI USA
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    No...
    make you own bees, importing in to your yard you risk pathagions... If you at all a good beekeeper there is no reason to ever buy bees, short of a castoftic event.
    run the numbers..
    3500 bees per pound, 7000 cells per deep frame, 0.5 pounds of cover bees on a full covered frame... call it 2 pounds of bees per full covered frame of capped brood filled to 75%.... poof "package"... most brood factorys will kick out at least one per week
    Buying queen less packages, splitting them up and using local queens can be a win-win for those seeking bees or intending to make quick increase.

    After all; Its all about the Queen.

    If one has little money, no bees or has suffered some catastrophic event, it could be a way to get back into the game, no?

    My first few packages of bees were like $20.00 (mid 70's) and they survived for years with minimal input, whether we split them or not. Now with all the problems bees are having, and prices approaching $200.00 with few guarantees, this method of splitting packages and using local queens should/could be a way for some folks to stay a beekeeper without potential bankruptcy

    I;m also intrigued for the reasons already stated, the apparent trend toward keeping colonies small, splitting them often or allowing them to swarm ala Tom Seeley, something we began doing a couple years ago. We're learning a new way, nothing wrong with that. Fun is still fun.

    Seems like over the last 40 some years or so, we've (us humans) evolved as much as our bees have, at least when compared to how we attempt to keep them alive and thriving for future generations.

    Good luck to all......only 4 months to go until the first dandelions bloom. Hoo-Ray!

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    Splitting packages and finding/raising 'local' queens also seems a wise economic choice these days with the price of packages skyrocketing, all while suppliers offer little in the way of desired guarantees as they relate to queen suitability (or resistance to disease etc) for a particular region. Many Q suppliers seem resistant to offer guarantees, the type of guarantees recommended by Randy Oliver, the type needed by most of us due to the issues revolving around modern queens.
    What are these guarantees as recommended by ROliver?
    What guarantee would you like to see producers offer?

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    Quote Originally Posted by clyderoad View Post
    What are these guarantees as recommended by ROliver?
    What guarantee would you like to see producers offer?
    Read any of his articles from the ABJ over the last year for the things consumers should be asking/demanding queen suppliers to provide. Mite resistance would be a personal #1, but we raise our own queens already so its not a usual problem for us....as of today anyway. Who know what may come?

  18. #17
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    Mar 2017
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    dallas, tx, usa
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    I live in north Texas. I have made splits and added purchased queens. I have been concerned about Africanized bees that maps show would be in this area and a little north of me. I have not heard of anyone having issues with Africanized bees at the local club but the people I talk to also buy queens. I am sure I have had queen raised by a hive and not know it and have not had any issues but I have not been at this that long. Anyone from North Texas of other areas where Africanized bees may be have any thoughts on letting hive raise their own queens?

  19. #18
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    richardson TX USA
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    I am in North Texas as well. I have a couple swarms I caught last year. And one seems to run a bit hotter than the other. But smoke them. Always suit up. And you will be fine. This same hive is nice in the spring when they are busy, but come fall and dwindling resources, and they can get DEfenSIVE. Working them will help you understand them, and you can always requeen if they get to be too much. Don't fear what might could be. Just use good practices, and good judgement and you'll be where you need to be.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Spring Splits?

    Can you get queens in ones and two’s local? I got my brother in law on his feet last year by giving him frames of bees. He purchased queens I gave him a couple of frames for each. Getting a queen laying in drawn foundation (compared to grafting or cells) puts you exponentially ahead of the game. Just do the math. Figure you would get two queens one week and two more 2 weeks later. Give each queen 1.5 frames of mixed brood. If you want honey and want to mess around start feeding brood frames back into a production hive or two before the flow starts.
    I do not have SHB here so you may to manage your hive space different than I do.
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

  21. #20
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    Mar 2017
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    dallas, tx, usa
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    Default

    Master fish - I know what you mean. They are nasty in August and September. My first year I requeened in September because I thought something was wrong.

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