Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
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    Lexington County, SC USA
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    50

    Default Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    I want to do splits the 3rd-4th week of February. I'm in central SC. I did splits last year and had the bees make queens. I want to give them more of a head start this year for the flow which begins mid April.

    What conditions are necessary to do a split with a purchased mated queens? I'm referring to a certain temperature, etc.

    Thanks,
    Smokey

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,257

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    I use nights consistantly above 40F for my walkaway splits. Stronger is better, so I like three frames of bees, four if you can spare them. I also need to have emerged drones but not an issue for you.

    Last year I started early with too few bees, we got cold and I lost all the brood I put with them. Terrible waste of resources and they did not make a queen. This year I am going to lock them in for a few days since my splits stay in the same yard.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Lexington County, SC USA
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    50

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    Thank you, just what I needed to know. Now I have to find someone who ships queens that early.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
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    418

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Smokeybee View Post
    Thank you, just what I needed to know. Now I have to find someone who ships queens that early.
    Oliverez honey bees ships all year, they have some in Hawaii.
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper - my Youtube Vlog
    https://www.youtube.com/c/BackyardBeesNC

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Lexington County, SC USA
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    I think I will go with them. They let me buy now and pick my shipping date. I like that.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
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    418

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    I've ordered queens 4 different times with no trouble, they always arrive by 10AM the next day.
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper - my Youtube Vlog
    https://www.youtube.com/c/BackyardBeesNC

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Ocala, Florida, USA
    Posts
    618

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    Quote Originally Posted by ifixoldhouses View Post
    I've ordered queens 4 different times with no trouble, they always arrive by 10AM the next day.
    If you dont mind me asking, what are you paying per queen delivered to you the next day?

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
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    418

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    $37 each and $37 shipping up to 10-20 I think it is
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper - my Youtube Vlog
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  10. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    8,173

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    Since you plan on buying queens, I would say...the condition of the colony to be split is most important. Is the colony strong enough to give up a split? Are there resources available for the new colony to grow? Before I began wintering nucs, I split hundreds a year. something we had to do because the hives went to the orchard and didn't get supered early as they do now. We equalized the colonies by harvesting brood from very strong colonies and giving it to colonies that needed more. The minimum brood count going to apples was 5 or 6. Anything with 8 or more gave what they could. At the end of equalizing, any colonies that still had excess brood were split. The splits were made to have 2 honey, 2 sealed brood, and one open brood. Bees were shaken off combs and they were placed over excluder overnight. Doolittle method. The brood and honey could come from one very strong colony, or from more than one colony. It can come from one or multiple hives and go above an excluder on a different hive.

    I rarely split production colonies anymore. Rather I manage them for swarming and my breeding program is attempting to select breeder queens from colonies with a lower propensity to swarm. All the nucs come from brood factories in June and July. Yes, I know that folks say colonies NEED to be split in the spring or they will swarm. I disagree. The management plan I use has given me great honey crops over the years, without splitting my production colonies. This year some of the apiaries made 140+ averages.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Memphis, TN
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    "Rather I manage them for swarming and my breeding program is attempting to select breeder queens from colonies with a lower propensity to swarm. "

    How much of your success with swarm control do you think is due to genetics vs. management?

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Sawyer County,WI USA
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    369

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    I use nights consistantly above 40F for my walkaway splits. Stronger is better, so I like three frames of bees, four if you can spare them. I also need to have emerged drones but not an issue for you.

    Last year I started early with too few bees, we got cold and I lost all the brood I put with them. Terrible waste of resources and they did not make a queen. This year I am going to lock them in for a few days since my splits stay in the same yard.
    When we want get an early (mid-April for us) start we make Nucs rather than 'even' splits. Nucs do fine with just one frame of brood (can make several with a strong colony) and don't need so many bees to keep that one frame warm in case of a cold snap. Nucs are much more versatile and are more likely to survive imo

    You 'should' be able to find queens in your area (best), either from another local beek or from GA, FL, TX in February. In Northern WI we cannot count on the weather (for queen shipments) until early May.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    8,173

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    Quote Originally Posted by SG12 View Post
    "Rather I manage them for swarming and my breeding program is attempting to select breeder queens from colonies with a lower propensity to swarm. "

    How much of your success with swarm control do you think is due to genetics vs. management?
    I can't give you a number. All I know is what I see. We have very low swarming issues, but there are always some that do. I see lots of colonies that have 8-10 frames of brood at dandelion that don't swarm. I see some of those with early swarm cells started...a cup with egg or very young larvae. With proper management, nd without splitting, they don't swarm and go on to make good crops. Colony average this year was well over 100 pounds, with some apiaries over 140. Swarming bees don't do that.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    fairfield, sc
    Posts
    217

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    Located also in central SC I usually use these guidelines for early splits..

    1. average out all my hives first. I find i usually have hives that come in threes (strong, average/or par or growing, and dinks [that are surviving but still need to be evaluated before i make a change]). i also want all my hives to be 'even' so that i know whenever i visit my yards the following is true - all hives started the same, which ones are growing or need to be adjusted, and determine/confirm that the queens i want to breed from have still maintained my expectation over the winter. it makes management much easier if you can try to start each yard with the same type of management that way whenever you revisit them in a few weeks, you can quickly determine which ones aren't going to make it.

    2. increasing my smaller nucs that need it first. by this i mean that i might take some brood from strong hives and supplement those 'known' good nucs so that i have 'even' configurations through the yard. I'm eager to make splits but would rather strengthen up a good/small nuc and make a split later from it then create a longer recovery time for the strong hive...just to make a split.

    3. I use the old farmers almanac as a good resource for predicted or upcoming weather patterns - especially if i'm making walk-away splits.

    4. 'if' i'm making walkaway splits - what age are my drones and how many are in the area (mine and others that might be around to contribute). I've always heard that if you have purple-eye drones that you can make walk-away splits but personally I thinks thats a little soon based off of the drone timeline for growth. I like to see some walking around and know more are to hatch quickly before i graft or make walk away splits.

    5. 'if' i'm making walk-away splits i usually also wait until the weather has passed for frost. in my micro-climate, i usually get a frost by the end of february - just whenever the maples are starting to pop.

    6. if you have enough brood and bees to make a stronger split then you can adjust as needed but I don't usually start before March 1. That said, i had to make 4 splits on ground hog day last year due to busting hives and many drones. of those 4, i still have 3 hives.

    7. start feeding syrup to supplement and excite the bees for spring. I also use dry pollen year round at my different yards that way i can keep track of when the pollen actually comes in. SC is a good state in that it produces pollen year round, but also just because there's pollen - a good dry pollen sub available will (has in my case) make a world of difference.

    As everyone knows beekeeping is not only regional but also should be considered a 'micro-climate' environment. I find that i have differences in pollen and nectar with hives that i have in different yards within a 10 mile area. Only you can determine from your history and climate when a good time is to get cranked up. I've heard all the tales and fell susceptible to them in my early beek days that you need to split by X day or they were going to swarm. I have friends that live about 30 miles away from me that see the pollen/nectar changes as much as 3-4 weeks ahead of me so if i used those 'hard dates' to make my splits - i'd be in trouble. As far as early queens - I think you've heard that pretty much the west coast or hawaii is the 'earliest' place to get good queens. I know there are some in lower georgia and florida also available in late/early feb/march times.

    good luck -

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Northeast PA
    Posts
    301

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Since you plan on buying queens, I would say...the condition of the colony to be split is most important. Is the colony strong enough to give up a split? Are there resources available for the new colony to grow? Before I began wintering nucs, I split hundreds a year. something we had to do because the hives went to the orchard and didn't get supered early as they do now. We equalized the colonies by harvesting brood from very strong colonies and giving it to colonies that needed more. The minimum brood count going to apples was 5 or 6. Anything with 8 or more gave what they could. At the end of equalizing, any colonies that still had excess brood were split. The splits were made to have 2 honey, 2 sealed brood, and one open brood. Bees were shaken off combs and they were placed over excluder overnight. Doolittle method. The brood and honey could come from one very strong colony, or from more than one colony. It can come from one or multiple hives and go above an excluder on a different hive.

    I rarely split production colonies anymore. Rather I manage them for swarming and my breeding program is attempting to select breeder queens from colonies with a lower propensity to swarm. All the nucs come from brood factories in June and July. Yes, I know that folks say colonies NEED to be split in the spring or they will swarm. I disagree. The management plan I use has given me great honey crops over the years, without splitting my production colonies. This year some of the apiaries made 140+ averages.
    Michael,

    Would you be willing to go into more detail on how you manage your colonies for swarm prevention? Is there a specific set of methods you use, e.g., snelsgrove boards, etc?

    Thanks.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    John Day River, OR
    Posts
    279

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    Early splits with mated queens? If thats the case I would say the conditions are:

    1. Having Queens. Might be more of a challenge than you think, might not. probably depends on how many you are talking about.
    2. Strong colonies with brood to spare. I will echo what others have said, which is to consider equalizing/pulling brood rather than making even splits. We typically pull everything down to 5-6 frames of brood and build nucs with 3-5 frames of brood depending on the goal.
    3. Feed. Maybe you have epic flows in April where you are, we don't, but it probably wont hurt to feed.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Lexington County, SC USA
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: Conditions for early splits w/purchased queens

    Seapro,

    Thank you for taking the time to write all that out. Very helpful.

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