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Discussion Starter #1
It sounds like the cut down split as described by Michael Bush is my best option right now for two booming hives that are backfilling the brood nest. I do have a few questions, since although I've done splits before, I've never done one this radical. So...if you put all or most of the honey into the new hive with the queen and most of the open brood, and presuming that most of the bees that are put into that hive will return to the original hive location, what's to keep the new hive from being robbed? By his own description, Michael Bush (hope he's reading this and will respond) the new hive with queen has a very small workforce, so won't this effectively be a weak colony unable to defend its stores of honey? Since the hive is backfilling the brood nest, there's a fair amount of honey that would go into this new hive.


Also, I intend to keep the split in the same yard with the parent hive. If the new hive loses too much of its population, should I just keep shaking nurse bees into it, over the following days?

Thanks for advice. This kind of split makes me nervous as it involves pulling apart the hive so drastically. I read another thread on the same topic and that was helpful, as well as Michael Bush's webpage about this kind of split.
 

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i have done several of these with good success. i only take three or four frames from the parent hive.

the queen, a frame of honey, two or three frames with mixed honey, pollen, and brood, an empty frame or two of empty drawn comb, and a shake of nurse bees are put into a five frame box and kept in the same yard with no problems.

if you have backfilling you may have queen cells started. if so consider removing all but the two best looking ones to prevent multiple swarms.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The point is to try and prevent swarming, though I may be a bit too late. Don't know - we had such fluctuating temperatures here that I was reluctant to start opening the brood nest and waited, only to find that we're in full swing now. I tend to be late in working the hives in spring out of worry for the cold temps (we had temps in the 40s at night all of the week before last. It will be interesting...
 

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by removing the queen you are in effect creating an artificial swarm. if there are no queen cells and after the month passes before there is a laying queen it will be past swarm season. if there are queen cells and you remove all but one or two you decrease your chances of having after swarms.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Okay, success in finding the queen. There wasn't a lot of open brood, but I put the smallest larvae I could see (my eyes are getting worse at seeing eggs and even small larvae) in with the old colony, one or two frames that had some of that, not a lot of it. I put one almost full honey super on the new side with the queen, as Michael Bush suggests, giving the queen some drawn and empty frames for egg laying and for the house bees to draw out and left the old now queenless colony with some open brood, all the capped brood I found, and almost a whole super of drawn comb for honey storage. I covered the entrance with grass in the new hive, to keep the bees in for a while. Not so much to prevent them returning to the old hive but to give them a chance to settle down and since they have so much honey in there, to prevent any robbing in the near term. My hope is to combine the two hives again after the honey flow, and so I probably need to check them weekly and transfer over open brood to prevent worker laying.

Can anyone give me feedback - anything I should do differently? Only thing I can think of is that I didn't see much pollen though I see them bringing it in. Maybe it's being covered by nectar with the backfilling??
 

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I put one almost full honey super on the new side with the queen, as Michael Bush suggests, giving the queen some drawn and empty frames for egg laying and for the house bees to draw out and left the old now queenless colony with some open brood, all the capped brood I found, and almost a whole super of drawn comb for honey storage.
Not sure why you moved so much honey with the old queen? A cut down, at least the way I do it, takes very little honey from the parent colony, so taking nearly a full super seems like way too much, and may cause problems with the small split. The objective of the cut down, is to maximize your production, and prevent swarming. Pulling so much honey kind of negates one of those objectives. Of course timing is critical, and should not be done earlier than 2-weeks prior to the start of the main flow. You take the old queen and a good amount of open brood (3 frames), a frame of honey and mix honey/pollen. Five frames is all I ever take in a cut down.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, I was following Michael Bush's advice. *(see excerpt from his website below). But I like your thoughts too, esp. since the honey isn't yet capped, so work is needed to finish it up. I debated about this with the split. I can move the honey super back tomorrow, I suspect. Certainly don't want the queen moving up into that.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Here's what M. Bush says about cut downs: There are variations on this, but basically the idea is to put almost all the open brood, honey and pollen and the queen in a new hive while leaving all the capped brood, some of the honey and a frame of eggs with the old hive with less brood boxes and more supers. The new hive won't swarm because it doesn't have a workforce (which all returns to the old hive). The old hive won't swarm because it doesn't have a queen or any open brood.
 

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Also, there is very little concern right now for robbing. If it were late July or August you might have a problem. There's plenty of nectar available in the spring blooms and the bees are not interested in fighting for honey from an occupied hive.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yes, I thought about that too, after my post. Lots to think about. I guess M. Bush suggests putting all the honey stores with the queen to more closely simulate a split. I guess...
 

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I might be wrong, but I believe that the reasons he would move the honey stores out of the original hive and into the split would be to give the original hive more room, less congestion which triggers swarm prep. Also, the bulk of the foragers that return to the original site will keep the colony going with new nectar. The new split has less foragers and might need the extra honey stores.
 

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>So...if you put all or most of the honey into the new hive with the queen and most of the open brood, and presuming that most of the bees that are put into that hive will return to the original hive location, what's to keep the new hive from being robbed?

Any split has this issue. Reduce the entrance. There isn't so much a shortage of bees, however, but a shortage of foragers. That's why you give them the honey and the pollen so they can feed the open brood despite not having a field force.

> By his own description, Michael Bush (hope he's reading this and will respond) the new hive with queen has a very small workforce, so won't this effectively be a weak colony unable to defend its stores of honey?

A shortage of field bees does not translate directly into a shortage of guard bees...

>Also, I intend to keep the split in the same yard with the parent hive.

I always do.

>If the new hive loses too much of its population, should I just keep shaking nurse bees into it, over the following days?

It won't. Some people (not me) actually shale some of the bees off of the open brood into the hive at the old location to maximize that population more...

>Thanks for advice. This kind of split makes me nervous as it involves pulling apart the hive so drastically.

It is a lot of work to do it really well. The concept is, of course, to maximize production at the old location and get a split out of the new location. How much you maximize it is up to you. You can spend more or less time on the details and get more or less of a honey crop...

> I believe that the reasons he would move the honey stores out of the original hive and into the split would be to give the original hive more room, less congestion which triggers swarm prep.

That too... but actually mostly I do it because the great beekeepers of the past who invented and mastered this concept did... Mostly I'm just copying it...
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks Michael. Glad you are here to share your experience and knowledge of bees/bee wrangling. If you're still reading - are you aware of any resources as to the sounds a hive makes to clue us in on status? There should be a whole book about this. I bet if we could figure out the sounds, listening in through the hive wall, we'd know a lot about the colony without having to take a look inside. For example, post split - what sounds indicate bees just trying to communicate with each other to "pick up the pieces" , to sort out and make sense of their rearranged hive. What sounds indicate bees back in contented production mode. Etc. I know queenless hive generally sounds very loud, which I heard in my two queenless boxes this morning. But there are all kinds of interesting vocalizing sounds in one of the hive that were split off with the remaining open brood, not sure if queenless or queenright. Someone must've done research on this...
 

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The best way to learn about sounds they make is to have an observation hive in your living room. When they sound different try to figure out why. Sometimes I've never figured it out, but they definitely sound different at night when they have been robbed during the day or when they are queenless or when they are getting ready to swarm...
 

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excellent thread. Doing my first cutdown split (had plenty of calamity experience last year and the year before) Not sure where the queen is. So I took the top box with the oldest open brood, capped brood, nurse bees and honey stores and moved them "next door" and put caged queen still caged in it.

I went through 20 frames without seeing the queen, certainly don't need to kill her, she is prolific. Just want to avoid a swarm loss
 
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