Is there a good reference guide for splits?
There are so many different types, and methods that I'm kinda lost. We have an initiative in our club to raise more local bees, and splits will be our primary tool. We will be doing three major methods.
1- a reference of videos, books, articles etc. of splits
2- Classroom instruction on methodology
3- Field classes on splits in local bee yards.
I appreciate any leads on good reference material either in print or online.
Of course I could just spend the rest of the winter reading all of the posts on this site, and that is indeed a treasure trove of information, but I just don't have enough time, and wanted to get some expert opinions.
I'm going with the OTS method described by Mel. Looks to be one of the simplest, and most solid, gives the highest chance for lots of new colonies. Since most of my frames are foundation less, I will be able to cut out many of the queen cells and transfer them over to make more splits. I did the first phase last weekend to two hives, and will do the second phase this weekend. Wish me luck.
So, we did 3 hives in the past few weeks. And another club member tried it out also.
We did 2 with a slight variation. 2 weeks before we removed the queen, we opened up the brood chamber by adding a foundation less frame in the middle of the brood chamber, and spread the brood chamber between two boxes on one hive, and between three boxes on another hive. The yellow wax is easier for the bees to modify for queen cells. Or at least that's the thought. C.C. Miller did something similar with with his wax cut into big V shapes. (which I'm going to try next)
We removed the queen and gave her a few frames of brood and honey to ensure a good start. In all of our cases, we moved the box just a few feet away. We left the original hive in the original location. This is important to ensure the strong forager workforce brings a lot of resources back to the hive and builds the best queen cells possible.
The following week, we went into the hives and looked for queen cells. For each split, we used 1-2 queen cells and as much resources as we had on hand. We tried to split it up as evenly as possible, giving every split enough capped brood, nurse bees, and resources as we could to ensure good success in raising a good queen.
Hive 1 got 5 splits along with the original start from 2 deep boxes, Hive 2 got 6 splits along with the original start from 2 deep boxes, and hive 3 got 7 splits from 3 deep boxes. The other club member got 4 frames with queen cells on them from 2 deep boxes, so he made 4 splits along with his original start.
In most cases, the most number of queen cells were on new fresh wax. Hive 2 had one frame with 9 cells, and hive 3 had 10 queen cells on one frame. Unfortunately, both of those frames were plastic foundation, so we couldn't cut out those cells and make even more splits. We just culled out the excess cells.
The challenge that we had was managing the returning bees. We used mostly nuc boxes on hive 1, and I rotated them on the first day and ended up with a decent balance between all of the boxes. Hive 2 we used a queen castle with 2 frames per section. We put it in the original location, and we got way too many foragers returning that could not fit into the box. On hive 3 we used some 10 frame boxes with separate entrances, which basically made 5 frame nucs side by side. Those too had a huge pile of bees on the outside of the hives at night and on rainy days.
So I think that Nuc boxes are the best, even if you only put 2 frames in a box, and foundation frames to fill it up. You need the space for the hatching brood. In the future, I will put a full 10 frame box back at the original site, and put in the weakest split.
Any advise on managing the bees after the split are more than welcomed.