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Discussion Starter #1
I have two hives coming out quite strong from winter and want to increase. My plan is below - will this work OK? What I don't want to do is weaken the donor hives too much. Any suggestions or concerns? I plan on pulling 2 frames honey, 2 capped brood, 1 uncapped brood and eggs (minus eggs on April 30th nucs)

April 15 - build a five frame nuc from each hive. Plan on walk aways.

April 30 - 2 queens on order scheduled to arrive. Can I pull five frames from each colony to make two more nucs?

So, 4 total nucs built out of the two starter hives.

I am running medium, 8 frame hives. 3 brood boxes on each right now.Our flow starts strong April 30th +/-.
 

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Start stimulative feeding about the 15th of March and don't stop until the end of April. Pull 2 frames of sealed brood and 1 of eggs/larvae for the first split. Pull only 2 frames of sealed brood and one of honey for the second split. Let both splits get established for 3 or 4 days and then give them some feed to encourage early buildup. Also, if you have drawn comb to replace the combs removed for the splits, that will make it much easier on the donor colony.

One other tip, since you are doing walk-away splits for the first two, you could wait 10 days for the two splits to produce mature queen cells, then cut out a couple and use them to make up the second splits. Timing is important, more than 10 days and you will have virgin queens emerged, less than 9 days and there will be problems with timing of pulling brood from the parent colony.
 

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April 15th sounds early for walkaway splits, even in your area.

I think you would be better off to let them build up until your two queens arrive and then do all 4 splits at the same time. Pull the 16 frames and make the 4 4 frame splits.
 

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Davacoles, according to Andy W. (are you part of the Colonial Bee Club that meets in York County?), April 15th is when he starts his splits in this area. I'm also planning to split my hive this spring, and have already started stimulative feeding with a very thin syrup 1:2 (they have plenty of stores, I'm trying to get them to build more comb). They are pulling in pollen left and right, and with the warm weather, I'm hoping to be a bit ahead of the mid April date. I've ordered queens as well. Hoping to get them a bit earlier than April 30, but I don't have a definite date from Shamrocksbees. I guess it depends on their weather in California as to when the queens are ready.
 

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From other reports it sounds like mature drones may be a lttle later than normal this year. So, make sure you at least have emerged drones by the time you do a walk-away split.

But, just because you have drones and could get a queen mated does that mean it would be a queen you really want? The best queens are raised on a flow. You could feed to try and improve the queen quality.

It is pretty amazing what a strong colony with a prolific queen can do. Late last summer, the end of August, I had the opprtunity to get a couple of breeder queens. This was on short notice. I decided to put together a couple of nucs to overwinter them in. I chose one hive to pull six frames of mostly capped brood from. I figured I was sacrificing that colony but it would be worth it in the end. I didn't give the donor colony any special treatment the rest of the summer and fall. I did put a fondant patty on top of it, like the rest of my colonies. Earlier this week it was thriving.

Ultimately, it depends on what your goals are for this year. If you don't care about an early honey crop go ahead and pull more frames of brood. If you don't care about honey make the nucs stronger with the hopes of making more nucs in the summer.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Davacoles, according to Andy W. (are you part of the Colonial Bee Club that meets in York County?)...
I am a member. We actually had our nuc meeting last night. We covered a lot and I learned a lot, but had to leave before asking this question (hence the beesource thread). I'm not seeing as much pollen coming in here in Williamsburg. On the other hand, I have not had the time to watch them much the last couple weeks. I plan on starting syrup this weekend (need time to make it). I thought about trying to push the mid-April date myself, but there was a lot of agreement at the meeting that this was risky. I think last year's crazy weather influenced this quite a bit.
 

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...One other tip, since you are doing walk-away splits for the first two, you could wait 10 days for the two splits to produce mature queen cells, then cut out a couple and use them to make up the second splits...
I ordered the queens a while back, frankly before I had read and investigated this enough. On the other hand, I like the extra time gained dropping in queens provides. Next weekend we are having a queen rearing class at the club and I'm attending. I'm going to give this a try this spring too. I've been reading a lot on the cell punch method (which seems simple enough - more info here, and here). We'll see what comes out of the class.

Thanks for the advice on frames to pull.
 

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Just be careful with that first split. They will have to have access to feed very soon after you make them up. I often put a bit of dry sugar on paper above the frames as an insurance policy when I make up splits in early spring. It does not stimulate robbing like syrup does. Also, you may lose eggs/larvae in the first split because of not having enough nurse bees. I usually shake bees off of one or two more frames into the split so there will be enough young bees to care for the brood. There is a balance to doing this, don't leave the parent colony crippled, and don't leave the split unable to care for itself.
 

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time wise apr 15 should be fine as long as our winter soon ends. you have to work with hive strength rather than a calendar. you may have to feed to get extra frames of honey as that can be a weakness for early splits. just dont expect much surplus honey from the parent hives. dont expect 100% sucess. as a rule if you get 80-85 % queens from walk away splits is good. buying queens will not give a better sucess rate. good luck
 

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If you are dead set on making two splits in mid April I would to a cutdown split instead of the walk away. Make the stronger donor colony queenless and move the queen into the nuc. It will give you a better chance of success as the full colony has better resources to rear queens, they will already have the pollen they need and plenty more coming in.

I don't consider walk away splitting viable until June. Drones are plentiful and mature by then; colonies have a good deal of resources and strong populations.
 

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I really like your links to simple queen rearing and havn't seen that presentation by Rob Andrews

before. I also want to try this out this year....I have several packages coming in a few weeks

and want to run most for honey, but want to push a few of them for splits only...

Thanks for the links and good luck with your splits..:)

==McBee7==
 
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