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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking to split my only hive this Spring. Right now it's three built out deeps with what I am quite sure is a healthy population and a good, healthy queen. I have done a lot of reading, and like so many things there seem to be dozens of methods.

Which split technique do you think is the easiest for a beginner?

Thanks,

Alan
 

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The easiest split is just the simple walk-away split. You have 3 boxes, assume bees in all of them. Take one box, ensure it has eggs, put it on a new bottom board with a new lid. Ensure the part left also has eggs, job done. One half will have a queen and carry on, the other half will make a new queen. This type of split can be done without going thru the 'find the queen' exercise that can be difficult and frustrating for a new beekeeper not adept at finding queens.

The walk away is by far the easiest form of split. It may not be the most efficient, but, it does get the job done with a minimum of hassle and very high rate of success.
 

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next on my list would be a Doolittle nuc... A bit more work/skill but better use of resources.. just so happens I am doing a local presentation that includes it, here is a copy paste off the power point

"Shake the bees off
2-3 frames of open brood
A frame of capped brood,
A frame of food
You need pollen and eggs/young brood some were in the mix
Place in a nuc box(or spare fullsized brood box)
Place the box on top of a queen excluder on top of the hive, cover the other side of the excluder with a nuc migratory cover or random board scrap
After a few hours to over night, pull the nuc off and set on a bottom board a few feet away.
leave a frame of food and a frame of caped brood, make sure to leave some eggs/young larva
Shake the bees off the rest of the frames and in to the nuc and put them back in the old hive.
Fill in any space in the nuc with drawn comb (preferred) or foundation.
FEED!!!!!!!
Check for capped cells in 5 days

what happend?
You made a queen less nuc with out having to find the queen !
Nurse bees then reoccupied the combs by traveling threw the queen excluder
you made a nuc full of nurse bees who aren’t orientated to fly back to the old hive
you removed the open brood they were feeding leaving a whole bunch of nurse bees in the nuc with little brood to care for, insuring the cells built receive plenty of royal jelly..

The bees then have there choice of cells hope fully avoiding the E cell issues, they cull more then 1/2 of them if left to there own devices. Sam comfort has been sending some queens made this style to the Tarpy lab and they are scoring as high as his best grafted queens. He is also pinching any cells that are capped at 4.5 days as those larva were too old

In essence we made a small free flying queen less starter finisher.

Once people have learned the mechanics to make it, it opens up a lot of possibilities witch is why I feel its important to teach it.
Instead of letting them make their own cells you can add a ripe queen cell, virgin queen, mated queen, or 48hour cells from a LOCAL producer
Or you could modify it slightly and place grafts, cut cell strips/plugs, Nicot cells, etc"
 

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grozzie2's suggestion with a modification IF you are competent at finding the queen.

If you are comfortable that you can find the queen, split just like his suggestion, but buy a mated queen for the queenless portion of the split. It gives the new hive almost a month more productive time.
 

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I second the Doolittle method, using an excluder. How many thousands of times have I done that!

I use a deep on the excluder. In it, without bees, goes a frame of honey, 2 sealed brood, 1 open brood, 1 pollen/honey.

You can leave these 5 combs overnight and the bees will populate the brood. If you want more bees...add more combs to the setup.

If you had more colonies... You could take brood from one colony, and bees from another...actually you can take a frame of brood and feed or pollen from three colonies..and bees from another. So you set up the box with brood and honey, etc, and place it over an excluder on a populous colony.

Also, if possible...buy in a mated queen. The day after setup, remove the split to a bottom board. Move it to another apiary if you can. If not, just keep an eye out for drift back. Give it a mated queen with your usual procedure.
 

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I did my first split last year, a meagre 2 months into being a beekeeper, with great success. I used the flyback split method - its dirt easy, and there is a great post here on BS with lots of information on how to do it (start at post 17): https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?303881-Spring-Split-Last-light-or-Midday

The method in a nutshell:
  1. Start mid-day, when the foragers are out.
  2. Find and cage your queen.
  3. Move all but one or two frames from your old hive to your new hive, being certain to carry the nurse bees along with the frames. Make certain the new hive is getting frames with recently laid (e.g. uncapped) eggs. You want the old hive to be mostly empty - your returning forager bees will take over a lot of the duties inside the hive as they return.
  4. Add fresh frames (or drawn ones, if you have them), to completely fill both hives. Make sure the frames containing brood are centred in both hives, and that the new frames are on the outside.
  5. Move the new hive far enough away from the old hive to ensure that returning foragers go into the old hive, and then release the queen back into the old hive.
  6. Check the old hive after ~1 week to ensure the queen is laying again, and that frames are being drawn. Its a good idea to feed this hive 1:1 syrup to help with the laying of new comb.
  7. If you are confident in your skills, check the new hive after ~1 week to make sure there are queen cells (be careful, they are delicate). If not, simply wait for ~28-30 days and then check to see if you got a laying queen in the new hive. You can also treat the new hive with an OAD somewhere between day 21 and day 23, as you will be broodless at this point.

Basically, this mimics a swarm. So the old queen and the bees that remain in the old hive work to rapidly rebuild the nest and start with intense brood laying. The new box is queenless, but has lots of brood and resources, and so they raise a new queen and the remainder of the bees continue to develop/operate relatively normally.

Bryan
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Everyone's comments are greatly appreciated. Why can't it bee spring already????

I can't believe I didn't start keeping bees earlier, what a blast learning!
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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If you have all eight frame mediums and four boxes of bees, I just split by the box. If you have two deeps full of bees, the most "mindless" method would be to deal out the frames--"one for you and one for you" until you have evenly divided all the frames. Put them back in the same order as you took them out.
http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks again for the advice. I did a lot more reading and youtubing. This past Saturday I completed my first split, a simple walk away. I was hoping to find a local mated queen to introduce to the new box, but none of the local sources had any, so I am relying on the new colony to create their own. I think they have all the resources they need. There were no queen cells anywhere in the hive, but I did find a frame with a couple queen cups, so hopefully the bees will make good use of them. This is so cool!!

Tons and tons of pollen coming into my hives this weekend, all different kinds.
 

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You could just do a one frame split one frame of eggs and sealed brood and one frame of pollen and honey in a 5 frame nuke. Check back in 5 days for Queen cells. If no Queen cells add another frame of eggs and sealed brood. Again check 5 days for Queen cells. And of course feed feed feed. This uses very few resources so if it fails you're not out much. I did this last year every two weeks started three hives and still got 50 lb of Honey off of my strong colonyI Believe by taking two frames every couple weeks I help stop the hive from swarming
 

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I agree that Grozzie's method is the easiest but for a beginner, it is anything but foolproof. Creating a queenless nuc for the bees to make a new queen is full of risks for that split. They have to create a queen cell, have her hatch, and have her return from mating flights. That just does not happen every time. When will a beginner know they have a problem? When it becomes a real problem that they cannot fix. How do I know this? Personal experience of course. When you only have 1 hive, losing the hive you split off can be heartbreaking.

I believe the best splitting method for a beginner is the fly back split with an added caged queen to the new hive. Since you moved the hive from the original location all the foragers will go back to the original hive (assuming the new hive is in the same yard as the original hive). The nurse bees are much more forgiving in getting a new queen and she can start laying in a few days when she is out of the cage. You should have a 98% success rate using a caged queen. The only real problem is that you have to know where the original queen is. If you don't know where she is, the Doolittle method is the way to go but still use the caged queen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks folks. Well it's too late to change anything now. The split has been done. I really wanted to get a caged queen for the split, but none of my local sources had one. One said he would have some in a couple weeks. So my plan is to check the new box over the weekend. If within a couple weeks I don't have a queen cell I will buy one. I am not sure if that is the right thing to do, but it's my plan.
 

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You should be able to see Queen cells being built within 24 hours and if you check in about a week you should be able to see a sealed Queen cell. if you don't see any Queen cells within a week go back to your other Hive and get a frame of eggs and let them try again. Remember Your virgin queen should hatch in about 12 days
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks Wertz. I will check 'em out on Saturday and see where we are! Not sure I want to take a lot more resources from my strong hive, but I hear what you are saying. I was hoping if there is no queen cell by Saturday I could find a mated queen somewhere local to install.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
First Split UPDATE - I was able to get into my hives yesterday, and wonder of wonders, the new colony has created three queen cells. Funny thing is the colony did exactly what they were supposed to do, and I am STILL amazed!!!:p Things seemed to be booming in the new hive. Lots of bees, and still some capped brood. There was loads of pollen coming in, and they were taking sugar water pretty well all weekend for the first time this year.

Just as exciting, a peek in the original hive showed the same high level of activity. I found eggs and larva, so it appears I managed to not kill the original queen in my splitting process!

Thanks for everyone's help and guidance.

Alan
 

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Congrats! I can totally relate to your comment of "the colony did exactly what they were supposed to do, and I am STILL amazed!!!". That's exactly as I felt when I did my first split.

For the record I had followed the method described by msl, Doolittle into a full sized box and let the queens raise their own. I split again later in the season the same way and bought queens for the second splits. The reason was two fold. One, I wanted to try both methods (raise their own/purchase queen) and two, later in the season there was less time to allow them to build up so I thought the mated queens would help.

Justin
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks Justin. It is amazing when things work they way they should!!

Your plan makes sense. I may split again later in the year if things go well, and your strategy seems logical.
 
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