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This is my second year. Last year I did splits all summer to increase numbers. This year my goal is honey production.
So my question is should I do spring splits or just checkerboard and add supers for honey?

Thanks
 

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I'm hardly a vastly experience beekeeper, but I would suggest if you want honey that checkerboarding and supering is much more likely to produce a large crop than doing splits. That said, a "cut down" split as described by Micheal Bush (queen and a couple frames of brood and a couple of stores and some extra nurse bees) SHOULD result in a larger honey crop if done while the main flow is on in the spring.

Hopefully someone near you have better advise. I've managed to kill all the splits I've tried so far due to horrible small hive beetle problems, and I don't know what your honey flow is like.

Peter
 

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The basic rule is: Make hives or honey not both. If you are growing your apiaries then do splits, the building process leaves little room for excess honey volume. If you desire a large honey crop help the girls get strong fast and keep them that way.
 

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For honey production you must manage the colony in such a way that don't swarm and take away your work force. I would bet you are right at your swarm season and bees are hard to stop from swarming if they have made up their minds. A lot of the actions to prevent swarming probably should have happened already.

If you are running two brood boxes, tilt the upper one up one end and see if you have queen cells with larvae in them or sealed ones. If you see sealed ones, the queen may have already left with a swarm. If you run a single brood box, look at the bottom of that box for the same thing. That or by frame side bars is where swarm cells are almost always built. If you are an sbb user the swarm cells may be higher up on the frames at the bottom of where the bees can heat brood comb.

If you are fortunate and the bees have not yet started raising queens, then you can place a foundationless frame on each side of the brood nest to employ the young bees and help relieve the congestion in the brood nest that promotes swarming. Since you mentioned checkerboarding, I assume you know why it is done and suggest you do it. It is done with drawn comb if you have it. If you don't have drawn comb, I would put foundation frames between capped frames of brood and throw on a super so the bees have places to be rather than congesting the colony.

Then, every 9 days. Tilt that brood box and look for occupied swarm cells. IF you find them, chances are the bees have made up there mind already. At that point I split the colony at least three ways and stack them all on the same stand with either plywood divisions or double screens. My objective is to at least cut my losses. When they have raised new queens and the old ones colony have got over swarming, just remove the divisions and let them sort it out. You will almost certainly get requeened with the survivor genetics that were good enough to come thru winter and be strong enough to want to reproduce and you will have the full population to store honey instead of stocking a tree.

For less long winded and more cogent explanation, go to Mr. Bush's website and read his material.
 

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I like to make a two frame split by moving the queen and two frames of brood into a nuc box about 1 month before swarm season. This will normally keep the hive from swarming and they will make a good honey crop. Most of the time the nuc will also build up on the flow and make a crop too. Checkerboarding and adding supers will help keep some hives from swarming but, is far from easy to accomplish. Proper checkerboarding also requires drawn comb. You can't use foundation frames and hope for it to work because it won't. Most second year beeks don't have a lot of drawn comb so your options for swarm prevention on rather limited without drawn comb.
 

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take the queen and 2 brood combs and put them in a nuc. take one frame with pollen and honey....put it in to the nuc. put one empty undrawn frame on one side and one undrawn frame on the other side. close it up. move it about 100 yards or so from the mother hive. feed and walk away. swarm prevention done. as long as there are no swarm cells. check mother hive in 2-3 days for queen cells. if no qc's...take one frame from the nuce or other colony which has eggs and very young brood. put it in mother colony. do this weekly until u have queen cells. let em go and watch for when the flow and when u need to add honey supers because they WILL make tons of it if timed right.
 

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All good advice
While the saying goes you can make bees or honey I've found it to not be exactly true.
I certainly want more bees and split 3 nucs from each strong hive over the course of the summer.
My main honey flow is in the spring. Usually over in June. There are some maintenance flows thru the summer but not much surplus.

I've only had one hive swarm and that's because I didn't do anything with it. I just wanted to see what would happen. I didn't like it!
Since my hive count is growing some of my hives will be started after the summer solstice. They will build to a single deep by fall. By spring their in buildup mode so as soon as their ready I get another deep on them. This gives me plenty of room to keep the broodnest open and since my queen is less than a year old they are not prone to swarm. I expect these hives to build two medium supers of honey for me and have the top deep full for them.

The following year.
Any queen I have that's a year old is prone to swarm. As soon as the blackberries bloom she goes in a nuc with three other frames of brood. The hive will raise a new queen. I only leave two cells in the hive. If I'm saving the cells for a mating nuc then I only leave one. The flow is just getting going when the blackberries bloom and I can keep her from swarming until then by making sure the broodnest stays open. I may have to go as far as giving a frame of brood to a younger hive.
Not having brood to take care of frees up a lot of bee to join the workforce. In a good year these hives can put up a lot of honey.

My best queens are born after June 21 so about that time I'll make a nuc. I'll do it again mid Aug. These last ones may need a little help for winter. I'll give them some capped honey and/or a frame of capped brood.

This was long winded but it works for me.
 

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take the queen and 2 brood combs and put them in a nuc. take one frame with pollen and honey....put it in to the nuc. put one empty undrawn frame on one side and one undrawn frame on the other side. close it up. move it about 100 yards or so from the mother hive. feed and walk away. swarm prevention done. as long as there are no swarm cells. check mother hive in 2-3 days for queen cells. if no qc's...take one frame from the nuce or other colony which has eggs and very young brood. put it in mother colony. do this weekly until u have queen cells. let em go and watch for when the flow and when u need to add honey supers because they WILL make tons of it if timed right.
Good advice Tommy,One thing I would like to add though.When you take the Queen,If you find her on a frame of brood,Leave that frame with the mother hive,That way you know that she has laid in that one,So the eggs will be the right age.Mark,,,,
 

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lets all not forget the one very important thing about the glorious nuc. ...or which i like to refer to as a beekeepers best friend and secret weapon :) : nucs can and should act as a second queen to a colony. one nuc minimum per production hive is my goal this year. its really simple to make a nuc. its even easier to take capped brood from that nuc and add it to the production hive to boost the population during a flow.

this is all my own personal opinion of course.
 

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lets all not forget the one very important thing about the glorious nuc. ...or which i like to refer to as a beekeepers best friend and secret weapon :) : nucs can and should act as a second queen to a colony. one nuc minimum per production hive is my goal this year. its really simple to make a nuc. its even easier to take capped brood from that nuc and add it to the production hive to boost the population during a flow.

this is all my own personal opinion of course.
Mine too!!
 
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