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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a feral hive that is still in the fallen tree I obtained them in. I fed them LOTS of sugar water and syrup during the late fall while it was warm, as I am not sure how much honey they have in the log. I have been feeding them regularly with clumpy sugar and fondant to make sure they make it through the winter. During late fall, I noticed that the population seemed to explode and I'm thinking that when I open the log this spring to transfer them to a hive, I may have enough bees to make a split, once they are moved into a deep brood box and draw some frames later in the summer.
My question is this.... These bees seem to be mite free and very healthy, along with what appears to be a good laying queen. I would like to make a split with this colony and somehow have the bees raise a 2nd queen from this same stock. How do you accomplish that task?
Sure, I know it would be easier to just order a queen when the time comes, but I would REALLY like a queen from this particular strain, as they seem to be very healthy and productive. Will simply moving 3-4 brood frames with nurse bees to a 2nd brood box be enough to encourage them to make a new queen cell if I really pour on the sugar water and syrup? If not, how can I get the original hive to make a new queen cell(s) to transfer to a brood frame that will be used in the split? Thanks for the great, knowledgeable people that offer advice to us newbees...
 

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Keep the log intact.
Place a box of drawn comb with some old brood comb in the center and stores on the sides on top of the stood up log.
Check regularly in the spring and when you find the queen laying in the box above (find meaning see the queen and know you have her in the box), remove it and replace with another box with honey and drawn comb.
The removed box with the queen should go on a hive stand and will have the queen and (hopefully ) plenty of nurse bees.
The log bees will raise a new queen. +- 30 days later look for the new queen to be laying in the upper box. If you find her there, insert a queen excluder and start/continue supering above the box. 45 days or so later, remove the log from beneath the hive boxes


hope this helps,
-Erin
 

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That's only if you remove the queen as soon as she moves up to the box. If you are 3 days later getting to moving the box there will not be any eggs in the log for the bees to make a new queen.

When you see eggs in the box, remove it and check for the queen. If she isn't in the box then you are home free. If she is in the box gently take her out and put her back in the log. Immediately put on a new box with a queen excluder at the bottom of the box as a queen includer.

JMHO
 

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One other way is to take a chainsaw and (not too deeply) make two cuts on the sides of the log. One on each side. And split the log like a hot dog bun.

Then, wire, band or tie the comb into frames, which are then placed into hive bodies.

Enjoy!
DS
 

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The log splitting thing is what I did. Here's the link to the video from my blog:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fnuHtqnjYE&feature=PlayList&p=BE93BD81EAE30F07&index=14

Unfortunately I did this too close to my other hives, and the robbing was out of control. Also, the hive got attacked by yellow jackets, and eventually absconded. That said, the extraction itself went pretty well, and if you don't do it next to your other hives this might be a viable option for you.

You can see and read about some of the aftermath here.
 

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I enjoyed the video ( it played very slow for me with lots of interuptions?) and sad to hear it did not work out. Can I make one suggestion? Please use chainsaw pants next time you do some chainsaw work - chainsaws are a little more dangerous then the bees. We like to see more of you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the suggestions, guys.... The problem I have is this is currently my only hive, as I am just starting with this colony. So, I don't have any drawn frames but can maybe get a couple from a fellow beek. I am planning on buying an existing hive or a nuc this spring, but that is another story...
Curently, the log is lying down and I have a Lang deep box with a hole in the bottom board that is placed over the tree knot hole the bees utilize as the entrance. One end of the log was cut off where it is not hollow, the other end which IS hollow, I have a board nailed on it to seal off the hollow at the other end of the log. They now use the box set-up to enter the box, then down into the log. There is a LOT of comb inside the hollow tree log and a LOT of room. I don't think (and have been told by a more experienced beek) that it is likely the bees or the queen will move up into the box, or at least any time soon.
I'm not concerned about HOW to open up the log or how to transfer the natural comb into frames... What I'm wanting advice on is how to raise another queen from this colony.
1. Perhaps cut the log down smaller, crowd them, feed heavily this spring and cause them to go into pre-swarm mode and make a new queen cell before removing them from the log?
2. Go ahead and transfer the colony to standard hive box, allow them to draw comb onto frames, then start a queenless nuc later in the summer? Or put the queen with the nuc and let the original colony then make a new queen? The split hive would be in close proximity to the original hive, so drones and mating shouldn't be an issue in fertilizing the new queen. I just don't know how to go about getting a 2nd queen from the hive and the best way to make the split so that both hives have a queen from the original feral colony.
3. I have another feral colony located in a tree that I plan to do a cut-out on this spring. This colony appears to be rather small. Would it be possible to combine this new feral colony with a few frames of the original colony. I think I have a pretty good idea on how to do accomplish that by dividing them into two boxes with newspaper in-between, but that doesn't really accomplish what I'm wanting to do in respect to raising a 2nd queen from the original colony. However it is an option if the new feral hive is weak in numbers.
Hope this makes my question a little less muddy
Thanks, Randall
 

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I think you're on to something Randall. My inclination would be to follow option #2 -

Get them out of the log as soon as feasibly possible, but in the Spring when there is less danger to the cluster. By doing that, you have much more control over the situation. Do a cut out, tying the comb into your frames. Feed feed feed both syrup and pollen sub, encouraging them multiply. Then hopefully before your main flow starts, you can make up a 5 frame queenless nuc with eggs, larvae, etc. from the donor colony, and they should rear their own queen.

In fact, if you really want to get going, as the parent colony continues to grow, with good timing you might get two or three nucs and new queens off the parent colony. I did a three-way split in May '09 that worked out real well.

Regarding option 3 - why combine them? Move them from their log cabin into more palatial space, and they should grow to fill it, then you'll have another strong colony! :applause: Then you can compare the two feral strains you now have, and see which truly is better. You might even get to split this one, and get another queen from this colony.

Of course with these plans you might not get any honey off them this year, but think about next year. Life can be real interesting! I envy you your options!
Regards,
Steven
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, Steven.
I've been trying to do a lot of reading, asking Q's and trying to learn a few basics for this Spring. Was just somewhat unsure which part of the split would be best to leave queenless. I've already learned a lesson about perhaps feeding too much sugar water in the Fall. I think I created a situation that fooled them into thinking there was a flow occurring and they dramatically increased in numbers. A Lot of new comb was built in a short amount of time. Been trying to baby them through this cold spell, but they are doing fine. Just my worrying too much, I guess. The log provides plenty of insulation and I feed them sugar clumps every few days to make sure they don't starve.
By the way, Glencoe is located about 55 miles west of Tulsa. I recently met an older gentleman that lives in the north part of Tulsa that has several colonies and sells supplies. Sorry, I can't remember his name at the moment. Maybe you knew of him. Might buy a nuc from him later on.
Anyway.... Thanks for sharing the knowledge. It is always greatly appreciated.
 

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I would get them in a box this spring and let them build up #'s. once they get pretty strong and other queen's are availible ( just in case they aren't sucessful in raising thier own queen) i would split and have them raise a queen. I would be careful about doing two much at once. with all this combining and raise queens. just my 2 cents. remember it is better to have one good colony than two small failing ones.
 

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Hi Randall...
I haven't lived in Tulsa in 40 years, go back to visit, but... so I don't know any beeks around there.
If I remember the topography of your area, you're in the plains, but gentle rolling hills? Rather windy? I would wait for a rather still day (yeah, right! good luck on that one) in the spring, when the temp is at least 60, with bright sun. You do not want to risk chilling the brood when you make the transfer.
Before starting have all your tools and equipment laid out. It would help if you could have a helper - spouse, older child, friend... someone who owes you big time! :lpf: It will go quicker that way. Peel away the outside comb, and put it in frames, in the outside of your hive. When you get to the brood nest, work quickly, transferring it into frames, put in the center of your hive box, then move the honey comb you've transfered against the brood as added insulation while you finish up. Once you get the brood transferred, you can slow down a little bit.
The bees more than likely will not use the honey stores to draw out foundation, but will use them for living and brood rearing... It is also important to transfer any pollen reserves you see. And to FEED pollen substitute, because you want to stimulate brood rearing and expansion.

Assume this: You have no idea what's in that log until you cut into it. Prepare to be surprised. And be prepared for anything. Have more equipment available than you think you'll need. You could fill one brood box with those bees and comb, or maybe more. Or maybe less.
My goal when doing such a transfer is by the end of the season, have the bees on new comb, and have removed and rendered their old comb. Just my personal preference for tidiness and disease possibilities.
So, now you have the bees in a deep brood box with their own comb. Let's assume it's almost full. Then I'd take and put a deep box and put on top, for a two story hive. I'd take 2 frames into which I've tied some of their comb, to use as bait. In the exact center of top box I'd put a foundationless frame, however you want to rig it. Put your donor colony comb on each side, thus encouraging them to draw the foundationless straight. Then on the outside, more foundationless frames. The bait combs also provides a ladder up to your foundationless frames.
On top of all that, I'd put an empty shallow super. In one end, a pollen patty, in the other end a gallon zip loc bag of sugar syrup. Or you can feed them pollen sub. and syrup however you want, but I'd give them both.

As I recall, your goal is to have a substantial hive of feral, now managed, bees, and make some queens off this hive. Right? So I'd build them up as quickly as possible. Once the queen is in the top box, and they've tied everything together well in the bottom box, and you can reasonably take 3 frames of eggs, young larvae, honey and pollen, I'd transfer that to a nuc, leaving the queen in the parent colony.
I'd manage the nuc for increase, letting them raise their own queen. You'll have to decide how to manage the donor feral colony, to clean up the comb you've transferred, or keep growing that colony to produce another nuc or two.
Now there should be some alfalfa fields around you... If possible, get them on alfalafa (bees don't like it as much as clover, but I had real good luck with it in OK and KS! and I don't know how much clover is in your neighborhood). The alfalfa should give you a couple of honey flows this year, depending on your weather.

Who knows? By September you could have 4 or 5 feral colonies from this one! Of course, if you want some honey this year, you'd manage them a bit differently. Good luck to you!
Steven
 

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Second thought Randall... when you do this, take plenty of pix! Maybe even a video... you'll be glad you did! And let us know how it turns out in the spring!
 
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