Should I split? Will it work?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Central New Jersey
    Posts
    5

    Default Should I split? Will it work?

    Hi all,

    I have 6 hives - 5 made it through winter. The one that didn't make it was simply empty when I opened it. Maybe a really late swarm last year? Regardless, the hive next to it is absolutely overflowing with bees. I don't know how so many are in there after winter, but it is 2x 10 frame boxes and both boxes are stuffed to the gills - all 10 frames. They have about 8 queen cells that are well established and capped and all on the bottom of the frame, which makes me think the queen is being superseded. Should I take all of the frames that have queen cells and move them into the empty hive? Note, the empty hive has tons of traffic in and out, which I have to think is robbing, as it was 100% empty several weeks ago when I checked during an off warm day. I don't want to start fighting with the robbers, and I don't want the bees that I move in there to fly out and return to their hive next door, but I also don't want this massive amount of bees to swarm off, though that may be unavoidable at this point.

    Thanks for any input!

    Scott

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Schenectady, NY, USA
    Posts
    421

    Default Re: Should I split? Will it work?

    Scott, it would help if you could tell us where you are?
    Lloyd Spear

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Northern Il, USA
    Posts
    619

    Default Re: Should I split? Will it work?

    Where are you? I assume far enough south that you have plenty of drones flying, if you have queen cells.

    The traffic to the empty hive could be robbing or could be scouting from your active hives, looking for a new home.

    If the queen cells are capped, I'd assume the bees are ready to swarm. Take each frame that has one or more capped cells and put it in it's own nuc, along with plenty of bees.

    The forager bees will fly back to the home hive but the younger bees will stay where put. You can either swap hive positions, so the new hive gets plenty of forager bees coming in, or you can shake several frames of nurse bees in when you move the queen cell frames. Enough should stay. Put some food frames in as well since there will be mostly non-forager bees for a while.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Fargo, North Dakota
    Posts
    290

    Default Re: Should I split? Will it work?

    Please edit your profile to identify your location. All beekeeping is local; your location helps understand both inquiry and answer.

    Your inquiry has multiple components that have to be broken apart. As to the “simply empty” hive originally identified, later you say it “has tons of traffic in and out, which (you) have to think is robbing..”. If “empty” there would be nothing to rob, so I suspect it was empty of bees, but honey stores still remained. That issue is unrelated to the other component of your inquiry. The empty hive will become the answer to your second major inquiry.

    The hive “absolutely overflowing with bees” needs immediate action. The eight (8) capped queen cells on the bottom of the frame suggests “swarm cells”, not “supersedure” cells. The swarm is about to happen, if not already done. Based on bee numbers, perhaps you have time to do an artificial swarm by re-locating the queen and about half (½) of the bees into your “empty” hive. The remaining bees, and swarm cells, in the “overflowing” hive can be left to re-queen naturally (or perhaps bees and capped queen cells can be used to create a couple/several new colonies).

    Simply said, you have little time before your queen will swarm, if not already done.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Central New Jersey
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Should I split? Will it work?

    Quote Originally Posted by JTGaraas View Post
    Please edit your profile to identify your location. All beekeeping is local; your location helps understand both inquiry and answer.

    Your inquiry has multiple components that have to be broken apart. As to the “simply empty” hive originally identified, later you say it “has tons of traffic in and out, which (you) have to think is robbing..”. If “empty” there would be nothing to rob, so I suspect it was empty of bees, but honey stores still remained. That issue is unrelated to the other component of your inquiry. The empty hive will become the answer to your second major inquiry.

    The hive “absolutely overflowing with bees” needs immediate action. The eight (8) capped queen cells on the bottom of the frame suggests “swarm cells”, not “supersedure” cells. The swarm is about to happen, if not already done. Based on bee numbers, perhaps you have time to do an artificial swarm by re-locating the queen and about half (½) of the bees into your “empty” hive. The remaining bees, and swarm cells, in the “overflowing” hive can be left to re-queen naturally (or perhaps bees and capped queen cells can be used to create a couple/several new colonies).

    Simply said, you have little time before your queen will swarm, if not already done.
    Sorry guys - I am in New Jersey - Dead center of the state. Yes, the empty hive was full of honey (well, syrup from fall kind of "honey" along with real honey).

    I am going to go look in it again right now. If it seems that there is just feeding, but no colonization, I will take the swarm cells and move them in and shake nurse bees into the hive and see how they do. They should have quite a few queens hatching soon.

    Thank you!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Fargo, North Dakota
    Posts
    290

    Default Re: Should I split? Will it work?

    Welcome again, but I believe your course of action should be re-locating the queen (and bees), not queen cells. Let me explain as if I were the old queen: “I have quit laying eggs, and slimmed down. I am looking forward to flying for the first time in months. That big beautiful world is out there, and I am entrusted by my Maker to increase the bee world - I will not let my Maker down. I have left behind my off-spring, duly capped. NOTHING is going to stop me from leaving this hive.”

    Let her think she succeeded. If the queen cells were not capped, your process might have a better chance of success; right now, the die is cast, and you may not be able to stop it.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Central New Jersey
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JTGaraas View Post
    Welcome again, but I believe your course of action should be re-locating the queen (and bees), not queen cells. Let me explain as if I were the old queen: “I have quit laying eggs, and slimmed down. I am looking forward to flying for the first time in months. That big beautiful world is out there, and I am entrusted by my Maker to increase the bee world - I will not let my Maker down. I have left behind my off-spring, duly capped. NOTHING is going to stop me from leaving this hive.”

    Let her think she succeeded. If the queen cells were not capped, your process might have a better chance of success; right now, the die is cast, and you may not be able to stop it.

    Thanks for the reply. I saw it after I had gone up. I just went up and went through the entire hive. I can't fathom how many bees are in there. It's amazing. I couldn't find a queen, couldn't find larvae couldn't find any eggs. There may be a non laying queen like you describe - makes perfect sense. And since there's so many bees, I could have missed her. What I did was move most of the queen cells (one was open, the rest (probably 10 - 15 of them) were capped. Most were in the upper box, and a few in the bottom box. All on the bottoms of the frames except for one that was in the middle. I left 3 queen cells in the full hive and moved the rest, along with about 2 frames of brood and all the bees that were on those brood frames to the other (empty) hive. I also shook out about 4 frames into the empty hive. Lots of bees stayed as far as I could tell.

    Hopefully I didn't screw anything up. I guess I will let them do their thing for the next month and I'll check activity without opening either hive for the next month. Then I'll go back in and see what's going on.

    Truly appreciate the responses.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,960

    Default Re: Should I split? Will it work?

    Sounds like you did the right things under the circumstances. You can check back in on both hives in two weeks. You are going to look for at least one properly oprned queen cell in each hive and do a quick check for eggs. It is not necessary or advised to try to find the queen. If you do not see eggs, check back in a week.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Central New Jersey
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Sounds like you did the right things under the circumstances. You can check back in on both hives in two weeks. You are going to look for at least one properly oprned queen cell in each hive and do a quick check for eggs. It is not necessary or advised to try to find the queen. If you do not see eggs, check back in a week.
    Will do. Thank you!

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