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Q: Optimal time for spring split?

3282 Views 10 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  CentralPAguy
I have 2 hives, and it is deep winter here in New England. Based what I hear from my hives, I suspect I will have only one hive come spring.

I will eventually want to do a split to repopulate the empty hive (assuming it is indeed dead this winter - time will tell!).

When is the best time to do a split on the good hive to restart the dead hive? Is there a rule of thumb?

Thanks - Steven
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Optimum would be before the hive swarms and they can handle the loss of brood and bees and still be efficient honey producers for you. You also have to do it early enough in the year so the split can reach full population for gathering stores for winter. You can make the split early and make it small, or make it late and make it large.
Maybe since it's so cold out there, they're moving really slow and can hardly be heard with a stethoscope ? Unless you've seen thousands of dead bees, how can you be sure ? There are only about 5-6 weeks minimum to warmer temps. Hang in there and I think they'll surprise you.
I can confirm that they may not be dead. Yesterday, I listened with a stethoscope and heard nothing.

Today, I looked in with a super bright flashlight and I can see them moving and just barely. I even gave them several raps on the hive and did not hear anything. But one little girl decided to investigate.

So I am satisfied that the girls in my backyard are going to make it. I even had SBB on them and it tells me that as long as they have adequate foodstores with a large enough cluster and moisture is kept away from them that they will make it. I was amazed how much food is above them yet.
I was amazed how much food is above them yet.
What will amaze you even more is how quickly the unused stores disappear once brood rearing begins in earnest.
Here in Virginia I have had great success with the 1st week of April, but each area is different. If noboby on here is around you I would try to ask a local beek.
A healthy queen will lay an average of 5-7 frames of brood over a 21 day cycle however the queen will only lay within the cluster space (area adequately covered by bees to protect eggs/brood). Once in awhile an unusually cold night will end up with chilled (soon to be dead brood because the cluster size decreases more than average. The key is wait until the hive is strong with that 6 or 7 frames of brood and plenty of workers. You can wait until the bees are in swarm condition but it is important to make your split before any of the swarm cells are sealed. If the Queen is stil strong use her for one split and use a swarm cell in the other. You'll need to destroy all remaining queen cells as once a cell is closed in hive with a swarm cell it's likely going to swarm if it is in the side with the old queen. Dandelion bloom is a good indicator often for weather conditions and swarm conditions as a general guide for timing.

If you want to make increase and grow past your two hives you can make as many as 4 or 5 good splits with a somewhat different methodolgoy.

At this point I'll hope both your hives are alive and producing a ton of honey in 2010! Either way have fun!
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When you have the equivalent of two deeps full of bees, they are strong enough to do a split that will build up well. You can do it before that, but that is about the minimum that will build up well.
I would not split if I did not have at least 6 frames of bees per box.
Your planning for spring split/divides started last late summer and fall with feeeding pollen supplents and syrup.
This spring management is the same
Your planning for spring split/divides started last late summer and fall with feeeding pollen supplents and syrup.
Is the reason for providing the Pollen supplements in late summer/fall really all about increasing the cluster size going into winter so that when they come thru in the spring that there is a larger workforce. Or do we feed the pollen patties in the fall so that they store it on the frames themselves in preparation for Spring production.
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