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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
All information that I am referring to can be found here: http://www.mdasplitter.com/ (for those who haven't read it yet, like myself, until a few weeks ago).

So, I know this isn't a new topic, or a new technique. But the more I read about it, the more it seems like he shouldn't be able to provide such rapid growth. From one hive to sixteen in one summer. It appears that something isn't being accounted for, but I don't have any experience with it, so I don't know what's missing.

Does anyone have any experience with this technique?

My concern isn't so much with "outbreeding mites," I'm fortunate enough that I don't really need to worry too much about mites (through genetic selection, of which this author discards as impossible). My concern is more with growth. I have never been able to produce nucs this fast. It would be a good year for me to split a hive three ways and have all three hives make it through the winter. But then again I'm not very good at swarm management, so the problem is likely with me.

If anyone has experience with this, I am also interested in the potential it has for the south and warmer climates. The author seems to revolve around colder temperatures (where he is located). I would imagine that changing it for the south would be easier, as you don't need as much stores, and you can split them earlier.

Ideas? Problems?

http://www.mdasplitter.com/docs/MelsCalendar.pdf

http://www.mdasplitter.com/docs/NucManagement.pdf

http://www.mdasplitter.com/docs/OTS.pdf
 

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I took a look there a while ago and concluded that he is just making a big deal out of things which are not particulary new and using quite a few words to do so. I found the site awkward to read since everything seems to be in PDFs and I had trouble distinguishing one article from another. Hope I don't sound too negative, but he made a few statements that made me question the rest of the writing.

As for splitting that much, in the north, as you say, the subsequent winter can be be a problem. I do know of one fellow well north of me who did 16 for one and wrote an article which claimed success. I did not hear about it again, though, and he is still around.

I think that splitting massively is one of those things that works 2 out of 3 years or 3 out of 4. The failures when they come, though, are often nearly total and wipe out any advantage gained by being greedy -- and make a more conservative approach more attractive.

This year I got a bit over 3 for 1, and that was letting the bees raise their own queens. My schedule was not at all optiomal. I had it done as time permitted.

I have already decided that I should be able to get up to maybe 5 to 1, with a bity more beekeeping. I could push it to 8, but some years we just do not get an August or September and that would knock away back.

Another thing to remember is that when you meet a beekeeper who seems to be a superman, he may just be lucky. There are some microclimates which are just ideal and the pollen also just happenes to be perfect for bees. Fifty miles away, doing the same thing could be much less successful.
 

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If anyone has experience with this, I am also interested in the potential it has for the south and warmer climates. The author seems to revolve around colder temperatures (where he is located). I would imagine that changing it for the south would be easier, as you don't need as much stores, and you can split them earlier.

Ideas? Problems?

I answered this question in another thread. It is possible to split colonies 16:1, but you would have to split up your best colonies about dandelion flow, and again about every 5 weeks until August. I don't do it that way as I'd rather make honey with my best colonies and bees (nucs) with my non-producers. 4:1 or 8:1 is sufficient for my management.

We in the north may have an advantage over you in the south. We have pretty dependable flows from May to September. Your nectar flows dry up in when..July? That might be your biggest problem...aside from Small Hive beetles.

From outbreeding mite thread:

I split up my non-productive hives in July. I average 4 nucs per. So that's 16 from 4. We have a good flow after July from Loosestrife and Goldenrod. Even so, I still have to feed quite a bit. I can split the nucs about 1 month to 5 weeks after setting them up. The latest I would split them is about first week of August.

I'd have to do the math for 1 to 16.

If I had queens I could nuc strong colony on Dandelion into 4 nucs. May 15.
Split nucs in half on June 22 makes 8
Split nucs in half July 29 makes 16

So I guess you could produce 16:1 here in Vermont provided optimal weather conditions and flows. I'd figure on feeding 1-2 gallons of 2:1 per in early Fall.
 

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I had the good fortune last year to attend a seminar by Mel Disselkoen and it was quite interesting.He outlined his technique and gave a little history about how he came up with these ideas.He was a commercial beekeeper for many years and said that he primarily sold nucs but at the same time he said that you can sell some of the nucs and combine some onto split colonies for honey production.I was sitting next to a guy that had gone to Mels field days and had put his theories to the test.He told me that they not only worked but that they worked quite well and if I planned on trying this that I had better start building the heck out of some equipment!
I do plan on giving this a try this year and I will be happy to report what happens afterwards.My impression of Mel was that he was an extremely gifted beekeeper and very passionate about his findings.What also impressed me is that he is more than willing to give away all of his knowledge to anyone who will listen because he wants to make sure that the honeybees thrive.
I plan on going up to his field days this year and I would encourage anyone who has any questions about this program to contact Mel and ask him.I'm sure he would welcome the chance to talk to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have contacted Mel directly to ask him what he advises on changing the schedule to match someone with a warmer climate. After describing my swarm dates, flow dates, and when the nectar stops rolling in, he helped me build a custom schedule. Very nice, and informative.

If anyone is interested in the specifics of the schedule, I have no problem sharing them, but I won't waste the time and energy in putting it on here if no one really cares.

I will tell you that based on my information, Mel advised me to go for a (total) 8:1 split this season, and not a 16:1 split as advised in his article. Mel also tells me that I shouldn't have a problem averaging 100 lbs of honey per hive that I have right now (prior to the splits).

I'm still rather skeptical of the technique and the success rates that it boasts, but I've decided to at least give it a try with only one hive. If it works well, I'll commit more resources next year. If it does work, I should get 100 lbs of honey and 7 extra hives. If it doesn't work, the most I could lose is one hive. To me, it's worth trying it with at least one hive. Any more than that and I don't think I would be comfortable.

Being that my results will only be with one starting hive, I don't really think it will give enough credence (either way) to the theory. If it doesn't work, it could just be a fluke and I could have screwed it up somehow. If it does work, it again could just have been a fluke, based on a good season or a good independent variable. But either way it should be interesting to watch happen.

It should also be mentioned that I've heard criticisms of Mel and his articles for trying to push his nuc design, or push his OTS method. I can tell you through my emails that he has never tried to sell me anything, or get his name attached to anything. Not saying that his goals are 100% pure, but I havn't seen anything bad yet.

I'll keep you guys posted as the process goes on.
 

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Post it, as I am interested. In my 'Bee Experiments" I modified by early ordering queens because I didn't think I could have mature drones for breeding my queens [nor laying queens for that matter] at the end of february/early March.

Danny
 

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I would be interested also.I plan on devoting a couple of hives to this experiment.I have a few others to get honey off of so at best I am gambling with these 2 hives.
Last year was the first year that my wife and I had bees.We had the typical newbee problem of wanting to overmanage the hives(get in them all the time)We started off with 2 nucs and around the middle of June we bought 2 queens and split our hives so we had 4.These hives seemed to be building up pretty good and in the middle of August the bees started eating all of the honey they had stored and the wax off of some of the frames.A local beekeeping friend said that the nectar flow was bad this year because of all of the rain and that we should start feeding the hives to build them up for fall.So I built some feeders and put them on and a few weeks later the hives were just overflowing with bees and the honey was starting to build back up.So in the middle of September my wife decided to take a couple of frames from each hive and make another hive and she bought a queen from Kelley company and stuck them all in a box and they just took off like gangbusters.A couple of beekeepers said there was no way that the last split would survive the winter because there wasnt enough time to build up their stores but I guess the bees didnt get the memo because in October there was so much honey on the hives that I had to take some off and extract it.Of course it tasted like water and honeybee healthy because I was feeding so I kept it to feed the bees this spring.But I guess the point I am trying to make is No matter how little you know and No matter what the experts tell you Sometimes things just work out for the best.I started into winter with 5 hives and hope to build up my numbers this spring with a combination of things like Mels theory,buying a couple of nucs,and maybe this year baiting some hives or catching swarms or maybe even a cutout or 2.Good luck to you and keep us informed on what worked(or didnt)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My pleasure DRUR,

The entire process starts 1 week before your first average swarm date. From compiled information, mine is approximately April 1st (although there is no doubt this season will be behind that). So my schedule starts March 25th, or the first date that you see mature drones (if it's after the 25th). Other than that, my season will revolve around my main (and arguably only large) honey flow of tulip poplar, that goes on average from April 25th to May 25th. Last nectar is brought in around July 31st. Based on this information, Mel and I came up with this:

March 25th
- Assure that brood size is 8 frames in size.
- Take two frames of brood plus original queen (referred to as "OQ" or "Old Queen") and place in a nuc. Shake in additional nurse bees. Add pollen and honey as needed.
- Take remaining 6 frames of brood and notch the cell walls down to the midrib on proper larvae. Do it on at least 4 cells total, two different frames.

April 1st
- Check on 6 frame hive. Assure two queen cells exist. Destroy additional cells, leaving only two to prevent swarming. Allow hive to produce new queen (referred to as "NQ").

April 7th
- Add supers to "NQ" in preparation for honey flow. Remove supers when full.
- Allow "OQ" with plenty of room to grow. Move to 10 frame hive when needed.

June 1st
- Remove last super of Tulip poplar from "NQ". Continue to allow additional room for growth in both "OQ" and "NQ"

July 1st
- Begin preparation for fall splitting. Assure that "NQ" and "OQ" have at least 8 frames of brood. At this point you should have two strong hives. Treat each one the same from this point out.
- Pinch the existing queen.
- Use OTS queen rearing method on frames to prepare two cells per frame for queen cells.

July 8th
- Assure that queen cells are capped over. Move 2 frames into nucs, leaving you with four nucs. Assure that only two queen cells are in each nuc to prevent swarming.

July 31st
- Check to make sure queen has sucessfully mated
- Assure all nucs have ample amount of room for growth.
- Begin feeding sugar water.

November 1st
- Add candy board to each hive



Of all of these moves, Mel explained that the most important method is to ensure that you kill the old queen, and make sure that a new one is made after June 20th. This assures that the queen continues to produce new brood throughout the fall, giving it a much better chance of survival.

He also stressed the importance of the candy board. I've never used one before, but I guess I'll have plenty of experience after this year.

The process should leave you with 8 hives (if you split in half on March 25th, giving you two hives, then each one is split four ways after July 1st, leaving you with 8 hives). Mel explained that even if you had a 75% loss from this point, you have still doubled your colonies.

I am a little concerned with feeding, and making sure that they have enough brood and stores to make it through the winter. I think having a queen that starts laying around August is a little on the late side, but we'll see if it all works out.
 

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I've read Mel's stuff and have thought about trying it also. The only thing I have to add is my experience with a fall queen. Last year was my 2nd season keeping bees. I had one hive overwintered from the previous year. They superceded the original queen sometime in August and after mating the new fall queen went nuts.

I had to feed because we had terrible fall weather (who didn't). But the hive raised brood like crazy, came through winter strong and looks great now. That's a pretty limited view but I thought I was really seeing his point about queens raised after the solstice.

FWIW - John
 

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Im sold.I had read the info but the detail that you gave was awesome, especially since Im only 90 miles west of you. Stupid question the "nucs" are 10 frame hive bodies? I think they must be but just wanted to check . Thanks for such a detailed post and I need to start building some hive bodies. Peace Dave
Sorry I read deeper in it and answered my own question thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Im sold.I had read the info but the detail that you gave was awesome, especially since Im only 90 miles west of you. Stupid question the "nucs" are 10 frame hive bodies? I think they must be but just wanted to check . Thanks for such a detailed post and I need to start building some hive bodies. Peace Dave
I was referring to nucs in the general sense of hive bodies. Either 5 frame, 8 frame, or 10 frame hive bodies. Whichever you use, or feel most comfortable with.

When taking 2 frames of brood out, I would recommend putting them in a 5 frame nuc to grow, then moving the 5 frame into a 10 frame. But that's just me.
 

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Hi, guys. Found Mel's website last year and talked to him, found out that my neighbor is one of his students, being a newbee I felt at least some of my karma is good eh?
My neighbor had very good sucess overwintering last year and followed Mel's plan for splits last summer, I think Mr. Dick is right on about the next winter because he's only got one hive out of eight that's left.
In Mel's defense, we had a poor fall flow and maybe that is a contributing factor, but I think caution is key word when it comes to his splitting plan.
I'm thinking it creates a lot of stress on the colony, but then again Mel loses more knowledge about bees trimming his fingernails than I'll ever know lol!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I just wanted to clarify a few points. Mel sent me an email notifying me that he does HEAVY feeding in October to prepare them for winter. Without heavy feeding during this time, I don't think they will make it. He also explained that he puts the candy board on his hives in January, and some pollen if you want to. Since his is on the 43rd parallel, I'm not too sure if a candy board is even needed down here. But just to be on the safe side I plan on putting one on about half way through December.

In addition, when I read between the lines, I can tell that some of the individuals that use this method, and with some seasons, the losses can be massive. Mel has told me that he has heard of people having a 100% overwinter rate, and in his yards he has gotten his statistics up to 98%, but if you read between the lines I can tell that some individuals can have a 75% failure rate. So if you are planning on using the technique, don't blame me if you lose the hive.
 

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FWIW, with my 3+ for one splits , I did not have to feed anything. I also did not have to feed last year doing 3 for 1.

I left some of the hives in three and even four boxes this winter but had to extract some honey in the fall because of the amount of surplus. That was definitely not my intention, since I was splitting to avoid extracting, and I got surplus in spite of myself.

As it happened, we had one of those years when we got a great fall. The early season was poor and my commercial friends had long faces at the end of July since they did not expect much. They had long faces again in October because they were so tired of extracting.

The point is that predicting the season is very hard to do in advance, and splitting requires assumptions about what will follow. If there is no pollen due to drought or a very wet month or two, the splits will just not build. The number of bees may increase, but the reserves in each bee will be substandard. Supplements will definitely help, but nothing is as good as a long summer and fall with continuing flows.
 

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Another thing to remember is that when you meet a beekeeper who seems to be a superman, he may just be lucky.
We used to have an officemate who always seemed to be making a killing on the stockmarket. In reality, he was trumpeting his wins, and not speaking of his losses.
 

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I will probably try it this year. But I don't know. I had so many swarm calls last year and then some cutout and trapouts I couldn't keep up like I should. I lost a lot of hives that were swarms that just didn't make it to fall less the winter and others that died out late Nov - Jan. But I would like to try.

As for success rate or failure rate whichever you prefer to use (1/2 full vs 1/2 empty) even if you lost all of the splits except for the original hive you still have a very good success rate.

If you spilt 1 to 8 and the 7 of then died with the last deadout in the late winter you are way ahead of the curve.

You have the original hive and it's growth (honey/wax/comb) for next year plus you have the frames of comb (brood, honey, combo) from those 7 hive that didn't make it.

If all 7 ended up the season with 10 frames of comb each (some probably not 100% comb) you have increased you comb supply for the next year by 70 frames!!!!

70 frames that can be used speeding up the growth of packages, nucs, splits, swarms, etc, or for putting on last year's hives to super for honey.

Now let's take this 1 step further. You were using medium frames/boxes. The 70 high could easily be 140 medium!!! :)

That's a lot of comb frames. If they are mediums, then you have more comb than you know what to do with to use for honey supers.

Now for the sake of it, the new years brings in one of the best nectar flows in years. What a bonaza of honey you would have because your bees didn't have to waste any on building comb.

To me a complete loss of the 7 splits was a greater success than having 7 extra hives the next year. :thumbsup:

Is my logic wrong? :scratch:
 

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OK some great comments on this. Learning alot. One quick question. With this method do you use the two mile rule or just leave them at the same yard and cover the entrance with a little grass or something to get them to reorient. I have made splits before and took them away but dont know if it is necessary. Thanks Dave
 

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To me a complete loss of the 7 splits was a greater success than having 7 extra hives the next year. :thumbsup:

Is my logic wrong? :scratch:
Granted, I wouldn't say it was a total loss because you "gained" some drawn comb, but for me the "greater success" would be the 7 extra hives next year!:)
 

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With this method do you use the two mile rule or just leave them at the same yard
I take mine away. When making up mid-summer nucs, they're pretty light on bees anyway. I have enough yards that I can just drive the nucs from the firs yard to the second, and leave them. Last summer I started some dedicated nuc yards. I use land with a good Fall flow, so they'll build up well for winter.

When I said that I could make 16:1 by splitting the first colonies in mid-May, I used mated queens in all the nucs. I don't think it could be done by using cells or the walk away method.
 

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> Is my logic wrong?

I don't know about where you live, but where I live, the comb from deadouts tends to be a burden on any new bees installed on it until they have cleaned it up.

> With this method do you use the two mile rule or just leave them at the same yard

Most experienced beekeepers know by the flow conditions and weather forecast whether to worry about drifting or not. If the bees are working close to the hive, or if the beekeeper would prefer to lose the foragers from the split, then a long distance move would not be indicated. Some also store a split in the dark for three days then return it to the location. There are many tricks.
 
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