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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm sure beeks would spasm at this, but I'm not sure why. It seems when a new package arrives - before the colony is established and "sold" on their new queen, might be the optimum time to split the package into two, buy an extra queen, and voila, you have 2 hives instead of one, with less chance of abandonment.

Let's say the frames you're using are already built up, even already have honey and pollen stores, just as if you were splitting an established hive.
 

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Sure you can do it - the question is will you end up with two colonies ready for winter in the fall. That I'm not so sure of, and I would not experiment with my money/bees on the line. I have found that nucs made up too weak in swarm season do not build up adequately. And I would be concerned that a deep 10 frame box will be too much space for the population of a split package. I'm guessing that a 4 frame deep nuc box would be better. I have no experience with medium boxes - perhaps this is a job for them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I use all mediums.

Your fall build-up is a good point I hadn't thought of, but wouldn't that be true of all splits?
 

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Yes you can. You can also buy a cup of coffee and an extra cup, divide it into two cups, fill both cups with water, and have two cups of coffee for the price of one plus the extra cup. In my opinion a package of bees is about the minimum size to establish a strong colony by fall. If you have it, give them extra resources, like drawn comb, honey and pollen. This will help them get off to a good start. One good strong colony is worth more than two "barely made it" colonies.
 

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I haven't done it, but from reading threads here, with drawn comb is available, splitting a 4 lb package into two hives, or splitting (2) 3 lb packages into 3 hives is more common than a 1.5 lb split.
 

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Your fall build-up is a good point I hadn't thought of, but wouldn't that be true of all splits?
Most of the time you are starting with more far bees than a 3 pound package. Keep in mind too the age distribution of a package. You don't know if you have mostly nurse bees with a long life ahead of them or foragers on their last legs.
 

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I have done this last year and this year. Last year I bought a 4 lb package and a extra queen and made 2 hives with it. Both on undrawn foundation and 10 frame box. One duragild and the other plastic. I feed them until they got 6 frames of the second brood box drawn and then stop added a super when 8 frames were drawn. Between the 2 they gave 5 supers of honey and are really strong this year even after a split. I have done the same this year and am trying a 3 pound split in 2 in a 5 frame nuc. Going to inspect them for the first time today. I think the key with them is feed until they build up.
 

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You can do it. Most are afraid, I would not recomend it if you are just starting out. I have done it did it again this year in fact. I picked up two packages March 19th. Ordered two queens they came April 9th. These four hives died, out darn corn fields last year. I put them in single deeps they started filling it up, then I added an extra deep. By the time the queens got here they had two or three frames brood in the top deep and in the bottom deep. I split them up the day before the queens got here. When I put the new queens in I had them in wire cages I had pushed into the middle of the capped brood. As soon as the brood hatched out I relesed the queens. I now have four single deep hives that are built up well. I will put my supers out on them in a couple weeks when the flow starts. Then I when I take my supers off to extract I will put another deep on each one. And I will have two deeps on each one before fall. That's how I do it, it's worked for me in the past. I will get all kind of comments from the know it alls I am sure.
 

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You can do it. Most are afraid, I would not recomend it if you are just starting out. I have done it did it again this year in fact. I picked up two packages March 19th. Ordered two queens they came April 9th. These four hives died, out darn corn fields last year. I put them in single deeps they started filling it up, then I added an extra deep. By the time the queens got here they had two or three frames brood in the top deep and in the bottom deep. I split them up the day before the queens got here. When I put the new queens in I had them in wire cages I had pushed into the middle of the capped brood. As soon as the brood hatched out I relesed the queens. I now have four single deep hives that are built up well. I will put my supers out on them in a couple weeks when the flow starts. Then I when I take my supers off to extract I will put another deep on each one. And I will have two deeps on each one before fall. That's how I do it, it's worked for me in the past. I will get all kind of comments from the know it alls I am sure.[/QUOTE
Sounds like a plan,But I don't understand parts of it.You said;You put them in a single deep & they filled it with brood & then added another deep,By the time the queens got here they had 2-3 frames of brood,& then you pushed them in the middle of the capped brood.
The part I don't understand,How did they have capped brood without a queen?
 

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I am definitely not a know it all I can tell because of my constant use of spell check LOL. Andrew has a good point in that beekeeping is local, If you can make it work where you are then go for it, several years ago I started 4 of my hives with dink after-swarms but they didn't really take off till I added a frame of sealed brood with clinging nurse bees from my 2 other strong hives and these dink start ups never produced more than what they needed to overwinter that year. Sometimes you can't tell what the limitations are till you run into them, have fun and experiment they are your bees. :)
 

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Here is what I have done (and works) and what I tell other people to do if they want to split first year packages - Wait until the first colony has built out enough comb for two hives to winter on, and then if the hive is strong, and enough time remains go ahead and split if you want to. In my area a 5 frame deep or an 8 frame medium is big enough to winter on - if you are willing to do mt camp sugar.

Everyone has their opinion - not everyone has tried it. But my opinion is that you are better off with 2 healthy and viable - even if small - colonies than one. Any time - but especially going into winter. Safety in numbers.
 

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Ben Little has done it in Canada; but those are New Zealand? bees. Bread in their in season. Just waiting to get a later in season local queen rather than the early season queen which would come with the package makes sense to me. SARE project says it would make sense to get a replacement queen for the package as well.
 

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Here is what I have done (and works) and what I tell other people to do if they want to split first year packages - Wait until the first colony has built out enough comb for two hives to winter on, and then if the hive is strong, and enough time remains go ahead and split if you want to. In my area a 5 frame deep or an 8 frame medium is big enough to winter on - if you are willing to do mt camp sugar.
I would go this route as well, since it gives you a chance to evaluate the first queen. You may end up wanting to re-queen the original queen that came with the package. Virginia is pretty close to the bottom in the honey ranking though, we don't get the crazy flows that some folks get.
 

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Mark Williams, I had capped brood because the packages came with queens. I put them in a single deep with built comb. After they had started laying good and had about three or four frames covered with bees. I added another deep, they like to lay in the center frames and if you stack another deep on top they will start another brood patch. You end up with four to five frames of brood instead of two they build up a lot faster. Like anything with the hobby works most of the time but no guaranties. I aint here to argue with those who love to argue or state my opinion. I am telling you what I have and am doing
 

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I haven't done it, but from reading threads here, with drawn comb is available, splitting a 4 lb package into two hives, or splitting (2) 3 lb packages into 3 hives is more common than a 1.5 lb split.

BINGO: You can do what you want. Even had loco's try one queen with 5 bees in the past... . As was stated previously its not about what you start with but what you end up with. 3 packages split between 5 queens would put you on the margin. Location, year, as well as how far the season has progressed will help answer the question as to whether this is prudent or not. In general... unless you really know what your doing just forget it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Just a quick read for now, but I do have all built up frames for them, some with honey and pollen, because I had a dead-out this year (of Italians).

Some people prefer doing late splits (nucs) for overwintering, no? So being completely worried about fall build-up if you split a package in the spring shouldn't be too much of a concern, I would think?

I'm tempted, but I don't know if I have the nerve to do it this spring. I'm getting a package in 2 weeks, and I could order an extra queen with that and give it a try. Or I may chicken out and just try to hold off until mid-summer when I do have another Russian queen on order.

Just seemed to solve the colony confusion if I separated them into two right from the get-go, instead of separating after they were committed to their hive and queen.
 

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Those late season splits are going to be with frames of brood in all stages, so basically you are taking a hive and splitting it into multiple pieces, but there really is very little down time as far as brood production goes. In your case you are looking at about a month before the first brood hatches, all along the numbers are going down. Comb is nice, but eggs, capped brood, and uncapped brood is even better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Those late season splits are going to be with frames of brood in all stages, so basically you are taking a hive and splitting it into multiple pieces, but there really is very little down time as far as brood production goes. In your case you are looking at about a month before the first brood hatches, all along the numbers are going down. Comb is nice, but eggs, capped brood, and uncapped brood is even better.
Oh. Yes, I could put a brood frame in both new hives from my other hive to give them a jump start. Hadn't thought of that.

It sounds like it would work, it's just a little scary.
 
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