Minimum Temperature Outside To Split
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Petaluma, CA
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    Default Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    I'm curious to hear what people's opinions are on the minimum temperature outside needed to split a hive. I once waited because the temperature on the weekend (only time I can access my hives) was what I thought was low to do a split but then during that week during the week days the temperatures shot up and a couple of my hives swarmed so I lost out. Looking at a potential 60 degree Sunday this weekend and wondering if that's to cold or not to split?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    10,146

    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    60 degrees should be no problem.

    generally speaking if it is warm enough for the bees to fly i think it is warm enough for deep inspections and manipulations.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    I bet you get a lot of differing opinions on this one. Here's mine. Daytime temps around 50, nightime temps should be above 30. Much depends on the type of split and how many bees you put in. A double deep hive can easily donate two frames of brood, a frame of honey, and three shook frames of nurse bees to populate a nuc strong enough to survive dips in the temps. I made two splits 11 days ago here in Richmond. Since then, the daytime temps have been in the high 40s and night have dipped into the low 20s. One nuc had too many foragers in it and failed, killing a bunch of brood in the process. The other nuc has a strong cluster and has produced three capped queen cells. I don't think temperature had anything to do with the failure, more like beekeeper error.
    What is ths two week forecast in your area? Days over 50? Nights around 40? I would go for it. Just make sure the splits are strong.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    I made two splits 11 days ago here in Richmond.
    Wow, splits in February in VA - bold move for sure. I'm going to make a few in the next couple of weeks. Seems lately that March is the most difficult month for us.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Ojai, California
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    2,572

    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    Why would you split a hive in non-ideal conditions?

    Unless they are back-filling the brood nest or have made queen cells, don't do it. Wait for warmer weather.

  7. #6
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    Astro, For me it was experimenting. That, and spring fever. Was not expecting the 20į temps and it was 70į the day I did it. Some of the queens are outlaying the hive's ability to eat the stores so these two hives were getting close to being honeybound. I have one more that is getting split this weekend and getting a super to start drawing out. If the OP is in a similar situation and the weather will not be getting below freezing in his locale, why not try? I would rather lose a few frames of brood in a failed split, than half my bees to a swarm.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee
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    1,407

    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    I just split in the 40's...... so far so good
    Splitting a first year hive successfully https://youtu.be/ZfRTreQ-S9c

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
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    336

    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    You're just North of me and I had the same question.

    This rain is sure keeping the girls inside but some of my hives are BOOMING! I'm still adding dry sugar to deal with humidity and keep them fed, since they can't fly. I've also loaded up the hives with pollen patties to keep them growing - also since they can't collect it during storms.

    I did a small split on Monday and it's holding very strong. It's suppose to be clear here early next week and I'll likely do the rest of my splits then. We're getting night temps in the high 40s/low 50s but day temps int he 60s. I have no doubt that by the time the queen's emerge we'll get some nicer weather for her to mate.

    Does anyone know the minimum temp for a queen to do a mating flight? I know a lot of literature says 70, bu I've certainly gotten good queens mated under that.
    Last edited by mtnmyke; 03-06-2019 at 08:45 PM.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Petaluma, CA
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    83

    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    Thanks everyone. Temps here have been in the high 50's low 60's recently with nights int he 40's. I'm going to split this Sunday as if I go any later I think I'll start taking fairly decent risks of swarming.

  11. #10
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,760

    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    I'm never thinking about temperatures. I'm thinking about how strong the hive is. My hives are not strong enough to split when temperature might be an issue. I like strong splits. In my opinion, if a hive isn't at least two ten frame deeps or four eight frame mediums, then it's not strong enough to split yet.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  12. #11
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    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    I would rather lose a few frames of brood in a failed split, than half my bees to a swarm.
    I hope my comment didnít come across as critical - that was not my intention! I've made nearly every mistake possible in beekeeping. These mistakes tend to make lasting impressions, and push me towards being more conservative a time passes.

    Regarding your included comment, there is certainly a lot of middle ground between losing a few frames and swarming. A few frames of bees in March can make a big difference in oneís bottom line. Generally, I will make more room early in the season to head-off swarming, and then, typically mid-March, I'll pull splits. The advantages are many, the biggest is larger populations, which makes bigger splits more feasible (less detrimental), not to mention the increased drone pool available for mating. Iíve found that a good 5-frame split in mid-march will make a decent honey crop in SE VA.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Greenbrae, CA, USA
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    743

    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    Based on my experience last weekend splitting a hive at around 50 degrees the only real downside is the hive is packed with bees who are looking for a fight!

  14. #13
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    AstroBee, no the last comment was directed more towards kilocharlie but not really at anyone. Bold equals gutsy or adventurous. Truth is, I have a nuc promised to someone and wanted it strong for a mid April delivery with a local queen. End of March through April is when I plan on doing the majority of my splitting so I can use fewer bees to start. As far as an actual minimum temperature, as long as there are drones available and flying weather in the three week out forecast, I don't think there is a minimum for doing a walk away split.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  15. #14
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    Feb 2016
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    Covington County, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    Why would you split a hive in non-ideal conditions?
    Selling nucs.

  16. #15
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    Jun 2012
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    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    Re spring fever> Don't rush the season

    Re foragers leaving> early in the spring old bees are many and young bees are few=nuc failure.

    Re honey bound in early March> super earlier, with drawn comb. Some say: super early and often. (additional thought-maybe they came through winter still too heavy)

    Re getting comb drawn> best to wait for strong flows and warm temps.

    Re losing a few frames of brood in early March> Yup, a very costly loss best avoided
    Last edited by clyderoad; 03-07-2019 at 03:08 PM. Reason: typo corrected> getting comb drawn.......

  17. #16
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    Apr 2017
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    Santa Cruz, CA
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    Quote Originally Posted by clyderoad View Post
    Re spring fever> Don't rush the season

    Re foragers leaving> early in the spring old bees are many and young bees are few=nuc failure.

    Re honey bound in early March> super earlier, with drawn comb. Some say: super early and often. (additional thought-maybe they came through winter still too heavy)

    Re drawn comb drawn> best to wait for strong flows and warm temps.

    Re losing a few frames of brood in early March> Yup, a very costly loss best avoided
    But what exactly is "warm temps"?

    Remember, we're in N. CA. It's already in the 60s during the day here.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    "Re drawn comb drawn> best to wait for strong flows and warm temps."

    --But what exactly is "warm temps"?

    Both conditions are satisfied when you begin to see new white wax being made.

    We have a spring maple flow here but temps are low and only nectar is collected, no new wax made.
    Undrawn frames are useless to the bees, can not store nectar in them and will not get drawn until temps warm.
    In fact
    if using wax foundation or extra waxed plastic when both conditions are not met they may remove the wax from the new foundation and use it elsewhere.

    Wax making is also dependent upon a force of 2-3 week old nurse bees and the need for more room.
    So really 4 things- flow, warm temps, correct aged bees, need.
    (most of which are not present in the early spring at the same time)
    Last edited by clyderoad; 03-07-2019 at 03:09 PM. Reason: spelling

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Covington County, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    Last season I did Snelgrove Board splits on February 17th. The next weekend I made a nuc out of each frame that contained a Queen Cell (I think it was about 26 nucs from 8 Snelgrove Splits). 100% mated. I later lost a couple that never seemed to thrive and possibly were not mated well. But overall, very successful.

    This season, I did fly-back splits on February 23rd with 9 hives. Last weekend (March 2-3) I pulled all frames (-1 to requeen the original hive) with queen cells from the parent hive (the new hive and old queen stay in original position). That left me with 18 colonies (9 of which are queenless) from the original split and 12 additional 3-frame mating nucs with queen cells for a total of 30 potential colonies from 9 original colonies.

    Tuesday night got down to 31 degrees F and last night got down to 33 degrees F. Could be trouble for those little 3 frame mating nucs. We will see.
    Last edited by psm1212; 03-07-2019 at 03:06 PM. Reason: bad math

  20. #19
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    I guess I met the criterion here. Brood is on second to third round, so plenty of nurse bees. Plenty of drones and drone brood too. New wax is being drawn on partial frames from last year. Pollen is coming in and I have feeders on all the hives to stimulate comb production. With the exception of this past week, daytime temps have been low 50s to mid 60s for the previous few weeks. We will see 70 again this Sunday. While much of the country is still buried in snow, and I feel for you guys, there are areas of the country where spring has, for the most part, arrived. Split your hearts out! Just bee sensible about it. A single frame of brood and bees, probably won't make it quite yet.

    As an aside, the nuc that failed would most likely have made it if I had taken it to my out yard. I just didn't feel like driving the 30 miles to get there.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  21. #20
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    Jun 2012
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    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Minimum Temperature Outside To Split

    "I guess I met the criterion here."

    Okey dokey.

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