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Hello all, I am new to beekeeping and have been doing a lot of research on hive management, swarm prevention, and honey production. I recently read an article about doing a cut down split. Basically you have a really strong hive, or two hives sitting right next to each other. 2 weeks before the main nectar flow you take all the capped brood and put it in one box(without the queen) and all the open brood/eggs in another box(with the queen). All the honey and pollen go with the open brood/eggs and they are moved to a new location. All the capped brood are left in the original location, with empty supers above them. All the foragers return to the capped brood box and create a super hive without any young to take up nurse bees and nectar the colony will pull in A LOT of honey in a very short amount of time. Anyway, this is how it is explained.

My questions are:

1) How long will the colony with all the capped brood and foragers bring in honey, presuming the nectar flow will last 5 or 6 weeks?
2) Will they be productive the entire time or will the population drop off as the nectar flow drops off?
3) I also heard this is used commonly with those trying to get a lot of comb honey production...is this true?
4) With the colony with the Queen/open brood eggs, how long until this colony is back up to full strength with lots of foragers?
5) Has anyone on here actually done a cut down split? What were the results?
6) Hypothetical Question: All things being equal and no swarms, strong nectar flow, ect. If I have 2 strong hives, would they produce more honey if I just left them alone or if I did the cut down split?

Thanks in advance, and I look forward to the responses!
 

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>1) How long will the colony with all the capped brood and foragers bring in honey, presuming the nectar flow will last 5 or 6 weeks?

Until the flow ends. That will vary even in the same place from year to year and also from place to place. There is no right answer to that.

>2) Will they be productive the entire time or will the population drop off as the nectar flow drops off?

The population will be increasing as all of the capped brood emerges. In four weeks they will have a laying queen again and then some bees will be recruited to care for the brood. At that point things kind of go back to normal production as the brood rearing ramps up. So it's true the big benefit is that first four weeks and then some benefit for the next two or three weeks as brood rearing ramps up.

>3) I also heard this is used commonly with those trying to get a lot of comb honey production...is this true?

It was the standard method of doing comb honey. The other one slightly lesser method would be shaken swarms or captured swarms.

>4) With the colony with the Queen/open brood eggs, how long until this colony is back up to full strength with lots of foragers?

It has no foragers. As soon as some of the open brood gets capped some of the nurse bees will get recruited to forage. In two weeks some of the open brood will be emerging. They will not get back to what they would have built up to, but that's also why they don't swarm. They generally build up to what most other colonies are by the wind down in the fall so they should be strong going into winter.

>5) Has anyone on here actually done a cut down split?

Yes.

>What were the results?

It depends on how good your timing is and how good the flow is... but more production and less swarming.

>6) Hypothetical Question: All things being equal and no swarms, strong nectar flow, ect. If I have 2 strong hives, would they produce more honey if I just left them alone or if I did the cut down split?

They would produce more with the cut down split.
 

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I'm confused, if you have capped brood and foragers but no queen, how does that colony get a new queen? Don't you need to supply eggs/larva for queen rearing, and if so, it won't really be a super-hive because they have to care for the brood, right?
I must be missing something.

I thought you let the eggs & larva hive go queenless, they'll take ~4 weeks to raise a queen and get her mated, and in that time they'll produce a lot of honey.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Matt F, According to what I read, the Queen goes with the hive that has the eggs and open brood. The hive with mostly capped brood, the bees will try and raise an emergency queen with any open brood or eggs, and in the meantime will bring in a lot of honey and draw out a lot of comb.

Michael Bush, When would you pull the honey off the cut down hive?

Thanks for the responses. Any other tips or experience would be appreciated.
 

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So you leave the super-hive with a small amount of open brood so it can try to raise a queen?
 

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if getting more honey is the goal of a cut down split i think the method would work best if using all one size frames. the parent hives of the cut downs i have done did get very heavy with honey over that month they did not have a laying queen, but since i run a single deep with medium supers a lot of that honey ended up in the deep. this presented a bit of a problem because i haven't been extracting deep frames although i suppose i could have. it also presents a problem because the new queen doesn't have much room to lay when the deep is plugged out with honey. i thought they would move the honey up into the supers once the new queen started laying, and they did to some extent, but not so much that i was able to show a measureable increase in harvest compared to colonies that did not swarm. with all one size frames one would be able to take whatever frames were good for extracting and more easily replace them with empty ones for the new queen to lay in.

i'll be doing a number of cut down splits again this year, but to me the value is more in the creating of a new colony and the preventing of swarming. the strong parent colony has the resources to make a good queen and has the potential to yield some harvestable honey. that wasn't so much the case here last year though because spring came late, and it looks like this year spring is coming even later. the problem there is that the colonies aren't as big as soon, the splitting occurs later, and the spring nectar flows play out before there is time to get a big crop.
 

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I too am confused. If you leave the queen with the open brood and eggs how is the hive that has only capped brood and no eggs supposed to make a queen.
I had thought one leaves the queen with capped brood and move that hive. The hive with eggs,open brood and no queen being left in the original location collects the foragers and makes a queen.
 

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>I'm confused, if you have capped brood and foragers but no queen, how does that colony get a new queen? Don't you need to supply eggs/larva for queen rearing, and if so, it won't really be a super-hive because they have to care for the brood, right?
I must be missing something.

Yes. You are missing that it is impossible to actually find a frame of only capped brood or only open brood unless you do some major manipulations using a queen excluder and regular rearrangements, to create that situation. A "frame of capped brood" is one that is more than half capped. A "frame of open brood" is one that is more than half open brood. No frame is all of one or the other. Although I always try to make sure I have some eggs and young larvae in the old location, it would be pretty much impossible not to if you give them all the frames that are more than half capped brood.

>I thought you let the eggs & larva hive go queenless, they'll take ~4 weeks to raise a queen and get her mated, and in that time they'll produce a lot of honey.

The concept is to maximize the foragers with the emerging brood, minimize the need for nurse bees (by removing the open brood) while the flow and the queen rearing is taking place, which is why you give the old location the capped brood. They also get all the field bees as they all drift back.
 
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