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My First Split-- Did I mess up?

719 Views 16 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Swede1974
OK, so I just began my 3rd year of beekeeping; after successfully overwintering them the first year, they swarmed 4 times in May 2022, until I finally went in and removed all swarm cells and queen cups. The swarming stopped, and I still had a pretty decent-sized population. Fast-forward to this spring (they once again came out of winter looking great). When I noticed queen cups being made, I knew I would need to split soon. I really wanted to try the flyback split lined out by Lauri Miller in some of her old posts, so I went in with that plan of action in mind. HA! The best-laid plans of mice and men (and beekeepers)...
I performed the split on 4-27-23, but could NOT find the queen. This hive was absolutely bursting with bees. Some frames were wall-to-wall bees, and when I gently blew on them to move them out of the way, guess what-- there was ANOTHER layer of bees under the top layer. I examined every frame carefully (my hive is a 10-frame double-deep) , moving in super-slow motion because I was afraid of killing or injuring the queen, and after 2 hours of looking finally gave up. I sort of guessed that she was maybe in the bottom box, to escape all the activity above, so I moved the top box to a new stand in the same yard, found a frame with a nice fat capped queen cell on it (this QC was on a frame in the bottom box), and gently placed that frame into the middle of the "new" hive. I closed everybody up, gave them both a new upper brood box with frames of undrawn comb, and put feeder jars of 1:1 syrup on both.
I'm second guessing myself because I don't know exactly where the queen is, and because I totally forgot to make sure both hives have eggs/very young larvae with which to make a new queen. What if I damaged that nice swarm cell when I moved it to the split? What if my wonderful queen was injured while I was farting around for so long? Should I go back in and check on things and disrupt them all over again? Do I just wait and see? ARRRRGH! This is this most nerve-wracking part of beekeeping for me thus far; I was trying to help them, and I may have messed them up out of ignorance.
Both hives show no signs of queenlessness that I can see-- no loud "roar" from either hive, no defensive behavior, the foragers from the old hive are happily flying to and fro and totally ignoring me, and the bees in the new hive are lounging about on the landing board and there was even an orientation flight in front of that hive yesterday afternoon. Should I go back in a week and look for eggs, so that I at least know for sure which hive the old queen is in? I don't know why it bothers me so much to not know where she is, but it does.
I do have another hive, another 10-frame double deep, and those bees are doing moderately well; they are a swarm-- from my first hive-- that I caught last spring, and the queen has never been as prolific as the queen I did the split from. But I could borrow a frame of eggs from them if I needed to.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated! I've been reading posts on Beesource daily for 3 years now, and I have so much respect and awe for the accumulated knowledge you folks have. I hope I'm just freaking out for no good reason (that has been known to happen馃槈), and you all can calm me down. Thanks for taking the time to read this rambling monologue!
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I'd leave them alone for a week. Then check to see if there are any new queen cells. If one half goes queenless the worst thing to happen is that you have to recombine the two halves again, or find a queen somewhere to put in, or add a frame of young brood. No great problem.

The only thing you did 'wrong' was not verifying that there was young brood in both halves of the split. Not finding the queen is common. As long as there is young brood, no problem.
Now, if you can find the queen that's nice; you can separate her into a nuc or do whatever you want.
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I'd leave them alone for a week. Then check to see if there are any new queen cells. If one half goes queenless the worst thing to happen is that you have to recombine the two halves again, or find a queen somewhere to put in, or add a frame of young brood. No great problem.

The only thing you did 'wrong' was not verifying that there was young brood in both halves of the split. Not finding the queen is common. As long as there is young brood, no problem.
Now, if you can find the queen that's nice; you can separate her into a nuc or do whatever you want.
I'd leave them alone for a week. Then check to see if there are any new queen cells. If one half goes queenless the worst thing to happen is that you have to recombine the two halves again, or find a queen somewhere to put in, or add a frame of young brood. No great problem.

The only thing you did 'wrong' was not verifying that there was young brood in both halves of the split. Not finding the queen is common. As long as there is young brood, no problem.
Now, if you can find the queen that's nice; you can separate her into a nuc or do whatever you want.
Thanks for replying, AR (and fellow Illinoisan :) ). I know for sure there are charged QCs in the original hive-- there were a couple that had larvae in them and were not yet capped, I just left them in there, in case I'd moved the old queen into the "new" hive. And I put the capped QC in the new half, just because I suspect that is the queenless half but that's just a hunch-- she could be in there also. So should I check in a week to see which hive has eggs and thus the queen, and then leave the other hive alone for a month before checking to see if they raised a new queen successfully? I'd like to keep the old queen-- she's only a year old and a good layer. And her offspring are super-gentle and calm. Of course, they may still swarm. If they do they do. At least I'm not sitting on my hands like I did last year, too nervous to try doing anything about it.
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... So should I check in a week to see which hive has eggs and thus the queen, and then leave the other hive alone for a month before checking to see if they raised a new queen successfully?
Yes.
Thanks so much! That gives me a plan going forward, and eases my mind. I'll let you all know what I find when I check them next week.
BTW, if I DO find evidence of my original queen in one of the hives, should I remove any queen cups and cells then, too, since I want to keep her?
BTW, if I DO find evidence of my original queen in one of the hives, should I remove any queen cups and cells then, too, since I want to keep her?
Yes, but first make sure the other hives don't need those potential queens. Check first to make sure the queenless hives are also making queen cells.

If you leave them they will swarm, and possibly swarm repeatedly with virgin queens. One year I did that and ended up with several tiny swarms one after another.
Should I go back in a week and look for eggs, so that I at least know for sure which hive the old queen is in? I don't know why it bothers me so much to not know where she is, but it does.
NO too soon

what if the cell about to hatch is smushed or injured, AND the eggs/larvae are too old to make a newone.
So use some bee math, Cell was capped, so it had to be 8 days old, then 8 days more and it should be hatched.
So If mine I would go in in 10 days, the hive you placed the nice cell in. then she should be hatched, and wrecking the cell is not going to be an issue. IF you find eggs, then the queen is in that hive, move forward with that in mind.,
look for that cell if opened normal, likely she is out and about, if torn down from the side, likely the queen did or had it done, another hint of queen rite ot queen less.
presuming you moved the "nice cell" part away, juggle the info if you did it the other way.
then also go into the other hive carefully. Check for space the old stand is likely to gain a 1/2 box of bees.
again look for eggs, if there also , you may have had 2 queens. if no eggs and Emergency cells then you made that box queen less. if it was 10 packed frames and they got 4 more to fly back to the old stand, And there are several frames with cells, Consider splitting into to 7 frame splits . several cell and packed could swarm on you.

good luck
if the queen stayed with the old stand and the field bees went back, they con and will maybe still swarm.
keep an eye out , and maybe have a trap ready

GG
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This is great-- you guys are answering questions I didn't even think to ask!
So let me see if I've got this right: I'll go into the split 10 days from when I moved the QC, check for either the QC opened at the tip (normal) or opened from the side (torn down), and also look for eggs (evidence of the old queen in that box). Then I'll go into the hive on the old stand, look for eggs (queenright) or E-cells (queenless). And see how crowded they are. And, if they are queenright, make sure I won't be needing those possible QC's before destroying them. (I need to check my 3rd hive, the swarm I caught last year; I've kind of been neglecting them this spring, they could maybe use a good QC if their queen isn't up to par.) Does that sound about right?
And I do have a swarm trap set up, and bees have been in and out of it daily for the last month; it's about 100 feet from my bee yard.
Thank you so much for your time and knowledge, I truly appreciate it.
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Update: my state apiary inspector came out yesterday (5/4) to perform his regular duties, and I told him what has been going on. We checked the parent hive; no eggs, no open brood, lots of emergency cells. Still quite a few bees in that hive.
The split that I put the capped queen cell in-- no eggs, no open brood, very little capped brood, and the QC was gone (we couldn't even see where it had been, but I know for sure where it had been because I marked that frame). The inspector really couldn't stay and ponder the situation with me because he was already running late and had to hit the road. Oh, and my 3rd hive had swarmed the day before (5/3)-- no eggs in that hive, but he felt I probably have a virgin queen in there because we found a QC opened from the bottom.
So after thinking about it overnight, I went back today and very carefully placed a frame with 5-6 E-cells into the split, marked the frame, shook in 2 frames of bees from the parent hive (it has plenty of bees to spare) and closed it back up. And yes, I made sure there were no queen cells on the frames I shook.
I gotta tell you, this whole swarming/splitting/queenless situation has me completely discombobulated! (I love that word :). ) How long should I wait before checking them all again? Parent hive and split now have several capped queen cells each. How long until the hive that swarmed has a laying queen, if she survives her mating flights (and a very intrusive beekeeper)? I've read varying numbers of days, from 10 to 30. And did I do the right thing by putting those queen cells in the split? Sorry if this is confusing-- I'm more than a little confused myself!
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Correctly performing calculations using "bee math" seems to be my weak area; so instead of going to church this morning, I am brushing up on my bee math skills.
If I am thinking straight, I believe my two hives with emergency cells should each have a virgin queen on May 12 (capped queen cells/emergency cells seen on 5/4...8 days until emergence means queens probably emerging on 5/12). Then 6 days of post-emergence development; then mating flight(s) performed; then 7 days between mating flight(s) and first eggs laid= May 26/27 I should start seeing eggs. Depending on duration/number of mating flights, weather, etc.
As for my 3rd hive, the one that swarmed on 5/3, I'm not sure if there is a virgin in there or if she left with the swarm. If she emerged on the day the apiary inspector and I saw the opened QC (5/4), (the day after the swarm? that seems wrong...) she should be taking mating flights around 5/9,10,or 11. She could possibly be laying by May 18.
Someone please let me know if my math is off-kilter. Thanks!
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Correctly performing calculations using "bee math" seems to be my weak area; so instead of going to church this morning, I am brushing up on my bee math skills.
If I am thinking straight, I believe my two hives with emergency cells should each have a virgin queen on May 12 (capped queen cells/emergency cells seen on 5/4...8 days until emergence means queens probably emerging on 5/12). Then 6 days of post-emergence development; then mating flight(s) performed; then 7 days between mating flight(s) and first eggs laid= May 26/27 I should start seeing eggs. Depending on duration/number of mating flights, weather, etc.
As for my 3rd hive, the one that swarmed on 5/3, I'm not sure if there is a virgin in there or if she left with the swarm. If she emerged on the day the apiary inspector and I saw the opened QC (5/4), (the day after the swarm? that seems wrong...) she should be taking mating flights around 5/9,10,or 11. She could possibly be laying by May 18.
Someone please let me know if my math is off-kilter. Thanks!
looks good
sometimes with a capped cell, it can be 8-15 days old so we have to guess a bit.
when in doubt go in slow check them when you think they Should have eggs and adjust your guessing process.
And they are not all the same, some can take a week longer than her sister.

GG
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Swede,
I've got no showy advice for you, but I'm over here kind of giggling to myself because reading your posts is like looking in the mirror. Also in my 3rd year, experiencing the same swarm drama with my hives over in Oregon. Just thought I'd tip my hat to you and say I'm right there with ya! :sneaky: What's the update with your colonies?
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Swede,
I've got no showy advice for you, but I'm over here kind of giggling to myself because reading your posts is like looking in the mirror. Also in my 3rd year, experiencing the same swarm drama with my hives over in Oregon. Just thought I'd tip my hat to you and say I'm right there with ya! :sneaky: What's the update with your colonies?
Hi there, Rebecca! You know, I've read that by our 3rd year, we're supposed to be smarty-pants know-it-all beeks, telling everybody else what they're doing wrong and feeling smug because our bees are doing so well (right before they crash because of mite overload, undiagnosed brood disease, or starvation). But I still feel like I have SO much to learn, and I don't try anything new without a lot of forethought and research; and then the ladies will do something puzzling, and I'm spending long nights awake (or on Beesource), wondering what the heck I'm supposed to do next. It's very humbling! But I love my bees so much, I can't imagine ever giving up this wonderful hobby.
I am going into my split and the parent hive this weekend; according to my bee math, they should have mated queens laying by then (fingers crossed!).
My 3rd hive, the one that swarmed, now has a laying queen-- I checked them on 5/18, and saw tons of eggs, larvae, and a little bit of capped worker brood. HURRAY!!!! It's such a huge relief to go into a hive you've been worried about and see that everything is as it should be. Here I am, dancing around the backyard holding a frame and shouting to no one in particular, "EGGS! I SEE EGGS!" while my neighbor is giving me the side-eye as he heads to his car, wondering if perhaps he should call a mental health professional to check on me:D.
I'll post an update on the other 2 colonies after I've checked them in a day or two. Happy beekeeping!
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Hi there, Rebecca! You know, I've read that by our 3rd year, we're supposed to be smarty-pants know-it-all beeks, telling everybody else what they're doing wrong and feeling smug because our bees are doing so well (right before they crash because of mite overload, undiagnosed brood disease, or starvation). But I still feel like I have SO much to learn, and I don't try anything new without a lot of forethought and research; and then the ladies will do something puzzling, and I'm spending long nights awake (or on Beesource), wondering what the heck I'm supposed to do next. It's very humbling! But I love my bees so much, I can't imagine ever giving up this wonderful hobby.
I am going into my split and the parent hive this weekend; according to my bee math, they should have mated queens laying by then (fingers crossed!).
My 3rd hive, the one that swarmed, now has a laying queen-- I checked them on 5/18, and saw tons of eggs, larvae, and a little bit of capped worker brood. HURRAY!!!! It's such a huge relief to go into a hive you've been worried about and see that everything is as it should be. Here I am, dancing around the backyard holding a frame and shouting to no one in particular, "EGGS! I SEE EGGS!" while my neighbor is giving me the side-eye as he heads to his car, wondering if perhaps he should call a mental health professional to check on me:D.
I'll post an update on the other 2 colonies after I've checked them in a day or two. Happy beekeeping!
Smiling ear to ear right now. And here I was thinking that I was the only newb losing sleep over all my bee troubles. It's maddening in a way eh? Definitely feels amazing when things go right and you're on cloud nine, until you smack into a wall of another problem you didn't anticipate!
Glad to hear the colony you were worried about is working itself out. I agree that there is so much to learn. Every time I think I've got this, I'm knocked off my high horse and humbled to the core. I wonder how many seasons it takes the average beek to finally get to a point where they kinda have a grasp on it. 馃
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Went into the split and parent hive yesterday; here's what I found:
Split-- they are busy building comb in the top brood box, beginning to put nectar in the cells. About 60% of the frames drawn out in that box. Lower brood box-- outer frames full of capped honey, inner frames wall-to-wall brood! Beautiful laying pattern. I moved 3 frames of capped brood up into the center of the upper brood box, and moved 3 frames of mostly empty comb downstairs. Gave them a honey super as well (undrawn foundation).
Parent hive-- upper brood box, 10 frames of capped honey (they've been busy while awaiting their new queen!). Lower brood box-- the first 3 frames were all honey and pollen. Finally brood and eggs on frame 4. A lot of eggs & open brood, a small patch of capped worker brood. I didn't look at every frame, I quit after seeing evidence of a laying queen (at this point I was getting hot and tired, and the bees were getting grouchy). I pulled 3 frames of honey from the top brood box, and replaced those with 3 deep frames of undrawn foundation. Put a honey super (drawn comb) on top. Maybe I should go ahead and extract all those deep frames full of honey and give them back the combs? I'm hoping they'll move honey from the top brood box into the honey super-- less work for me! (Yes, I'll admit it, I am indeed lazy :).) If anyone has a suggestion, I'm all ears. Eyes. Whatever.
So I've gone from 3 queenless hives to 3 queenright hives, and life is good. Until the next bump in the road, anyway 馃槈.
Happy beekeeping, everyone!
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when you put an empty in the "honey" area it gets filled with honey, when you put an empty in the "brood" nest it gets filled with brood.
give them 3 or 4 days to start to draw the new frames, go back in and move some capped brood to the center of the top honey bound deep and the started foundation down to the nest area in the bottom deep.

perhaps in the 3 or 4 days, you have time to, extract the deep frames of honey, place one on each side of the capped brood in the upper and take a couple more full frames out.

IMO a top deep full of honey now is early to not have access to those cells all summer.

super is a good idea.
not screwed up, when hatching queens they can fill frames with honey as they have no brood to care for. More of a feature.

good luck

GG
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when you put an empty in the "honey" area it gets filled with honey, when you put an empty in the "brood" nest it gets filled with brood.
give them 3 or 4 days to start to draw the new frames, go back in and move some capped brood to the center of the top honey bound deep and the started foundation down to the nest area in the bottom deep.

perhaps in the 3 or 4 days, you have time to, extract the deep frames of honey, place one on each side of the capped brood in the upper and take a couple more full frames out.

IMO a top deep full of honey now is early to not have access to those cells all summer.

super is a good idea.
not screwed up, when hatching queens they can fill frames with honey as they have no brood to care for. More of a feature.

good luck

GG
Dang it, I know you're right-- I should extract some of those frames of honey-- the queen needs more room in which to lay. Well, I guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow! Good idea regarding moving some brood upstairs in the next few days; I'll do that, too.
Thanks, GG! Your advice is always appreciated.:love:
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