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Discussion Starter #1
Is there a way to determine how strong a hive is in order to split with this method? It seems to be a fine line between overflowing with bees and swarm crowding. I have a hive with a prolific laying queen that has most frames covered, but not what I consider "overflowing". I added the 4th box last week (all medium 8-frame in my apiary) The plan is to pull her and all but one frame of eggs and open brood (maybe I should leave two?) to start a new hive. Leave the old hive in place to maximize production with the coming flow.
 

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The whole idea of a cutdown is, in the old location, to crowd them up into the supers and promote early recruitment of foragers because there is no brood so their focus will be honey. You probably can't leave all the capped brood without leaving at least a little open brood and eggs, no need to purposefully leave a frame of eggs and open brood. I would make sure I see some eggs somewhere, but they can be scattered on the mostly capped brood frames.

In the new location the idea is to have all the open brood (so their focus will be the brood rather than honey)

If you leave the old location with no queen, all the capped and emerging brood and no honey to speak of, and plenty of supers, they usually won't swarm because:
1) they have no queen
2) they have no stores
3) there is room

If the new location has the old queen, all the open brood, virtually all the honey and pollen, some empty supers (but not too many) they usually won't swarm because:
1) they have no field force
2) they have room
3) they are busy taking care of brood
 

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If you leave the old location with no queen, all the capped and emerging brood and no honey to speak of, and plenty of supers, they usually won't swarm because:
1) they have no queen
2) they have no stores
3) there is room
Interesting - very plainly put. Michael, one follow up question (sorry to hijack the thread here!). Since the old location has no queen, they will immediately start building queen cells to rear a new queen, correct? That, however (I'm assuming), will not interfere with their foraging as you describe where they will fill supers with honey stores. Is that right?
 

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>Since the old location has no queen, they will immediately start building queen cells to rear a new queen, correct?

Correct.

>That, however (I'm assuming), will not interfere with their foraging as you describe where they will fill supers with honey stores. Is that right?

Not at all. In fact it enhances it because there is no brood to care for so all those emerging bees get recruited to forage.

This all needs to happen, ideally, two weeks before the main flow. The closer to that time frame the better.
 

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So I need to extract enough honey for sales to support our farm status...much as I would like to just observe and experiment with bee management I will be unhappy if my doing so compromises getting honey.
Am in correct in understanding that as my hives build up if I take the Queen and some open brood with enough food supplies that they don't starve in cold wet spells plus undrawn foundation and put them in a new nuc hive that they will build up and I can take capped brood frames from this to release congestion and boost honey production hives with that emerging brood. While at the same time I leave the original hive Queenless with most of the capped brood, some eggs and open brood and the field force that returns to that hive. This "honey production" hive then will raise a Queen but at the same time the foragers will bring in honey...probably more than before the split because what would have been nurse bees now have no brood so become part of the forager group.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for confirming, Michael. I'm just a hobbyist trying to go from two to four hives without creating more problems for me and the bees. LOL!
It makes sense that with less brood to care for, the bulk of the population forages = more honey.
The timing is tricky for someone who is just in his first spring of keeping. Looking at the scale hive data from the nearest station (45 miles due East), things get cranking in May, with peak weights occurring sometime in June. This coincides with my observations of the Tallow tree blooms at the first of June last year. Planning to split next week.
 

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>Planning to split next week.

I'm not familiar with flows in your location, but next week makes sense to me.

>Am in correct in understanding that as my hives build up if I take the Queen and some open brood with enough food supplies that they don't starve in cold wet spells plus undrawn foundation and put them in a new nuc hive that they will build up and I can take capped brood frames from this to release congestion and boost honey production hives with that emerging brood. While at the same time I leave the original hive Queenless with most of the capped brood, some eggs and open brood and the field force that returns to that hive.

What you are describing sounds more complicated. A cut down is pretty much a one time manipulation and the scope of the success is directly related to the timing.

>This "honey production" hive then will raise a Queen but at the same time the foragers will bring in honey...probably more than before the split because what would have been nurse bees now have no brood so become part of the forager group.

Correct.
 

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I've done a cut down once before, and got the timing just about perfect. It had many side effects.

- The hive produced 3x as much honey as those around it.
- The population on that hive dropped to about 1/3 of what it was at the time of the split, 6 weeks later. New queen, lots of brood, dwindling population. This drop timed perfectly for our dearth after the flow
- The target hive that got the queen, did just fine, and built up well enough they didn't need feeding for the winter.

We plan to do more cut-downs this summer. Our main honey flow comes from the blackberries, and they bloom for about 6 weeks. Our strategy this time around is intended to catch many bullet points. It goes like this (in theory). When we see the first flower on a blackberry bush, signalling start of flow, start with a group of 5 colonies. Set out 4 nuc boxes. Divvy the smallest colony up between the nuc boxes, pinching queen along the way. Leave them sit to realize they are queenless for a couple hours. Go thru the 4 colonies left, pick up the frame with queen, and put it in one of the nuc boxes. End result, 4 cut down colonies, and 4 nucs. The cut down colonies (that really only lost the queen frame) make new queens, and lots of honey in the process. The 4 colonies have fresh new queens headed into the fall, and the nucs get started with our proven queens, that I expect them to supercede before winter comes.

The unspoken hard part of this plan, keep the bees in our boxes, and out of the trees, up until its time to do the cut-down.

This sounds great in theory, ask me in 6 months how well theory and reality met up. I'm sure reality will hand us a check along the way, but, at least we have a plan, and aren't stumbling along unsure of what we want to do. It's a strait forward plan, that sounds simple enough, to simple. Not sure where the gotchas lie, but, I'm sure we'll figure that part out too.
 

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I've done a cut down once before, and got the timing just about perfect. It had many side effects.

- The hive produced 3x as much honey as those around it.
- The population on that hive dropped to about 1/3 of what it was at the time of the split, 6 weeks later. New queen, lots of brood, dwindling population. This drop timed perfectly for our dearth after the flow
- The target hive that got the queen, did just fine, and built up well enough they didn't need feeding for the winter.

We plan to do more cut-downs this summer. Our main honey flow comes from the blackberries, and they bloom for about 6 weeks. Our strategy this time around is intended to catch many bullet points. It goes like this (in theory). When we see the first flower on a blackberry bush, signalling start of flow, start with a group of 5 colonies. Set out 4 nuc boxes. Divvy the smallest colony up between the nuc boxes, pinching queen along the way. Leave them sit to realize they are queenless for a couple hours. Go thru the 4 colonies left, pick up the frame with queen, and put it in one of the nuc boxes. End result, 4 cut down colonies, and 4 nucs. The cut down colonies (that really only lost the queen frame) make new queens, and lots of honey in the process. The 4 colonies have fresh new queens headed into the fall, and the nucs get started with our proven queens, that I expect them to supercede before winter comes.

The unspoken hard part of this plan, keep the bees in our boxes, and out of the trees, up until its time to do the cut-down.

This sounds great in theory, ask me in 6 months how well theory and reality met up. I'm sure reality will hand us a check along the way, but, at least we have a plan, and aren't stumbling along unsure of what we want to do. It's a strait forward plan, that sounds simple enough, to simple. Not sure where the gotchas lie, but, I'm sure we'll figure that part out too.
four questions:

(1)when are you expecting to see the first blackberry blooms
(2)why not split your hive into 5 instead of 4 and make 5 nucs...one with the Queen from the slit up hive
(3)why do you expect the nucs to super cede your perfectly good Queens
(4) how do you plan to over winter the nucs...single 5 frame nucs, individual 5 over 5 nucs, slit bottom deep with 5 over each or put each 5 over 5 into a single deep for winter

Thanks...I am interested as I need a decent honey crop and still have hives strong enough to over winter and do the same next year
 

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(1)when are you expecting to see the first blackberry blooms
(2)why not split your hive into 5 instead of 4 and make 5 nucs...one with the Queen from the slit up hive
(3)why do you expect the nucs to super cede your perfectly good Queens
(4) how do you plan to over winter the nucs...single 5 frame nucs, individual 5 over 5 nucs, slit bottom deep with 5 over each or put each 5 over 5 into a single deep for winter
1- mid to late June here.
2- because I am culling the runt queen and making stronger nucs.
3- because that's what bees do, particularly when they sense big/bad changes, ie the split.
4- these will be 5 over 5 just because I have the gear. Others will be in singles and doubles.

I'm planning to start a dozen colonies this summer, half in 5 over 5 and half in singles. Any that outgrow that will go into double deeps. Late fall we will combine runts to make em stronger. I will have no weak colonies br oct 1. Only strong colonies at winter weights.
 

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1- mid to late June here.
2- because I am culling the runt queen and making stronger nucs.
3- because that's what bees do, particularly when they sense big/bad changes, ie the split.
4- these will be 5 over 5 just because I have the gear. Others will be in singles and doubles.

I'm planning to start a dozen colonies this summer, half in 5 over 5 and half in singles. Any that outgrow that will go into double deeps. Late fall we will combine runts to make em stronger. I will have no weak colonies br oct 1. Only strong colonies at winter weights.
Thanks...you will then have a lot of hives to look after:)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Split done yesterday....only to find my other hive full of drones. May have to borrow a bit more brood for that one. Can I wait 12 days a put in a queen cell?
 
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