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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got two separate splits (well one is a split and the second is actually a weak hive with a queen which wasn't performing, so both hives are now queenless). I've got maybe 3 frames of bees in each of them. When I put a frame of eggs and larva in the hives, and came back 10 days later, there was no sign of emergency queen cells.

What is the minimum amount of bee's needed to get them to create a new queen?

Do you have to have four or five good packed frames of bees? Can just a single frame get the job done?

I didn't shake the nurse bees off of the frames to start with. So between them and the maturing larva the population is increasing in both boxes.

There's honey stores and pollen stores in both boxes.

Also, when making an emergency queen, do bees have a preference for having new eggs or do they prefer hatched larva. I've heard plenty of looking for "comma" shaped larva when grafting. Does this apply to splits as well?
 

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If you're dancing the line of the "minimum" amount of bees then you may be asking the wrong question. Better question may be how many bees are needed to raise a high quality queen. Not all queens are created equally and I'd argue that often queen made in emergency situations are inferior quality. Add that they weren't fed properly by enough nurse bees and that quality quickly drops further.

I'd say to properly make a decent queen during a good flow would be 5 frames of bees. It's a safe number that gives tested and proven results. However, I'd had cells in my queen castles go queenless and they'll make queens on just 2 frames of bees. But again, I always knock those down as I see them as inferior.

Also, in a split, it's best to give the bees young larvae and eggs. Bees know best as to what to use and at what stage. I only look for comma shaped larvae when grafting, not when doing as plit.

Regardless, sounds like you now have two hopelessly queenless colonies. If they didn't already draw cells then you don't have any brood remaining to make any new ones. That leaves you to looking at local suppliers to get one out to you asap. I'd suggest combining them back into one colony and add a queen. Keep the colony strong and split when it needs it.
 

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If you put in a frame of eggs and they did not make queen cells I'd suspect laying workers. If that's the case it's not worth the effort and drain on resources from your other hives to try and save.

If you wanted to do something to save I'd combine the two and look into getting a queen to introduce in a push in cage over the course of a week or two. I've had luck doing this w/ a laying worker hive after providing a frame of eggs once a week for two or three weeks. Success is not 100% and now I'd just take the loss and move on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for the response.

mtnmyke,

My original question was one of "dancing the line". It sounds like from your response, two frames is enough to create a queen, but she stands to be significantly inferior.

SeaCucumber

This is not a mite treatment. The first split was made from a hive with a laying queen. I think it was two frames of eggs / brood that I took out of it, plus I shook a couple frames in. After a week or so I checked and no queen cells.

The second split was actually a hive with a queen which wasn't performing. It was at three frames and shrinking with no eggs.

I'd placed a frame of eggs / brood into both of the colonies, some 10 or 12 days ago now hoping both colonies would prepare a new queen.

At this point I think I'll combine the two splits, and give them a fresh frame with eggs and see what they do with it, before purchasing a queen.
 

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A better way to make these types of walk a way splits is to remove the queen and three frames to carry on and let the larger colony with all the nurse bees raise a new queen. I only do this with a double deep colony so I have 17 frames of bees raising emergency queen cells.
 

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I think minimum is only useful for mating nucs. If you want to make increase you want a strong split. A colony is an economy. A colony struggles until it reaches "critical mass" then it thrives on prosperity. I like to make strong splits that are at "critical mass" rather than weak splits that will struggle to get going. In my location with my flows and my equipment that means if I have four medium eight frame boxes full of bees I can do a split where there are two eight frame mediums (the equivalent of one ten frame deep) in each part of the split and they will quickly take off again.
 

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I'm starting to realize that, some of my 3 frame splits are slow to expand. Wondering how big a full five frame split would be right now comparatively. All my splits so far have been small.
 
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