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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have several questions as I enter my first spring with full hives. I had 2 hives going into the winter and I fed them pretty continuously 2:1 to prevent starvation since it was their first winter and I didn't want to have a deadout from starvation.

Hive #1 : 2 deeps and a medium had tons of bees and the medium was full of honey going into winter.

Hive #2: 1 deep, 2 mediums and had fewer bees and not as much honey stores - I was worried they would starve. Both hives have Boardman feeders and I also built a spacer and put bags in the top. Both entrances reduced to 1 bee width.

About 2.5 weeks ago I noticed that the traffic going in/out of 1 wasn't as much as 2. The last time it got below freezing again (10 days ago ish) I pulled the spacer out of #1 to have a look in the front because there were dead bees clogging the entrance. There were hundreds of dead bees across the screen bottom and also wax, like they had been uncapping. I was afraid they were starving and possibly a dead-out. Bit since it was cold, I just kept feeding and waiting for a warmer day.

Last Saturday (3/29) I opened the hives and #2 is booming. Bees on every frame of the hive, some capped honey on the outermost frames, but full of brood. Very impressive. There is even brood in the top medium, which had been the honey super. I decided to put a queen excluder and another super on it, and did so yesterday (4/2). I would kind of like to split it (I had a deadout last summer) but is it too early to split and do I need to get another queen? I saw this article on splits http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm and am leaning towards doing an even split with a modification. I am thinking about taking some excess honey out of hive #1 and using it to boost hive #2 and the new split (hive #3) and then putting empty frames in #1 to give them room to grow. Is that a good idea? Also, if I do an even split and make sure that there are frames with eggs and capped brood, will the nurse bees turn one of the eggs into a queen even if it isn't in a queen cell? I'd like to do a split without having to buy a queen.

Thanks in advance for your help!
 

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Also, if I do an even split and make sure that there are frames with eggs and capped brood, will the nurse bees turn one of the eggs into a queen even if it isn't in a queen cell? I'd like to do a split without having to buy a queen.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Yep, as long as their is eggs or larva under 3 days old they will make that queen cells. If they make several you can even take those out and have more queens if you needed.

Bees are pretty darn amazing.
 

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Yes, when bees discover they are queenless and have eggs or young larva available, the normal procedure is that they will rework one or more of the cells to turn it into a queen cell.

Of course, there is always the possibility of something going wrong with this process. Even after the queen emerges, she still needs to survive a mating flight and return to the hive. If you choose to let them raise their own queen, there will be a delay in having new worker eggs (compared to you adding a queen from elsewhere). More info on the timing of phases of the queen maturation is here:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmath.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies. Should I stop feeding them or is it too early? Daffodils, hyacinth, forsythia and deadnettle are all blooming here.

I should also mention that I'm wanting to produce honey, not tons of bees or queens, but I want 3-4 hives.
 

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Well, you have said that at least one of your hives has a ton of 'honey'. Since you have been feeding them syrup 'pretty continuously', what you have isn't really honey.

You might consider shifting frames of stored syrup/honey around [equalizing], and halting feeding of syrup. Redbud is starting to bloom here and I suspect a strong nectar flow isn't far off. You may be in a similar situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Rader,

I realize that it isn't really honey. What is a good sign to look for to tell for certain that there is enough nectar and I can stop feeding? Is there a certain plant to look for? Our redbud hasn't started blooming yet.

I started from packages last spring and lost one (a lot of people in the club had trouble with the packages last year), so I have been overly cautious in feeding.

What do you mean by equalizing?
 

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I was using equalizing in referring to moving honey frames around so that each hive has its share. I mention this because feeding only some of the hives in a yard may encourage robbing.

Equalizing can also refer to moving frames of brood/bees around between hives.

I don't know anything about bees is for certain.:) You need to pay attention to plants that are about to or are blooming. Some of my redbud is out, dandelions have bloomed as well as purple deadnettle; the blackberries and raspberries are budding, pears are close to bloomiong and so are my apples.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Rader, thanks for the clarification. I was thinking about moving the resources around between the hives and doing the split at the same time and didn't know it had a name. That it does gives me more confidence in that approach.

We just got a cold snap again (38F this morning after 76F yesterday) with the storm front last night so I think I should wait a couple of days until the lows are back in the 40s to do the split and equalization, right? Highs in the upper 50s supposedly today...
 
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