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Discussion Starter #1
My one TBH made it thru the winter. The bees look healthy,and a healthy number out flying, but not alot of bees on the combs inside. Still early, and they are bringing in pollen. I noticed some queen cells or supercedure cells, how to tell the difference. I didn't see the queen, but see lots of eggs. I want to plan for my next step to have two hives, would have built more this winter, but ski accident laid me up, still recuperating:s.. I have one empty tbh to fill.
Can I have some thoughts on preference? They may not even build up, but if this weather lasts like this, wow. It's been so nice. Glad to see them flying,
Carrie
 

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Congrats on getting them through winter!

Split and bait.

If they're bent on swarming, not likely you will stop them.

If you have queen cells, great time to split and get a free colony without climbing a tree on their time. If you don't have a hive ready, a modified cardboard box will do in the meantime.

Last year I did queen-less splits on my langston by taking the queen & frames into nucs and letting the hosts hive raise a queen. Hosts and two Lang nucs did well The other two were unsuccessful attempts of transfer to TBH. Two hives still swarmed and one of them became my top bar colony.

Lousy harvest, but could have been weather.

Many choices are available and all, some or none may work.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Mr Bush,
I wasnt going to feed, but they seem to lack the numbers right now. The weather is gorgeous and they're bringing in pollen and the queen is laying. Should I let them do they're own thing for a month or so then do the split?
Thanks
Carrie
 

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You and your bees have done great. They made it. The size of the colony is not that important right now. They are doing what they are supposed to do and will build up much more quickly when things start blooming. Don’t confuse old queen cells with fresh ones as you might be seeing last year’s leftovers. So here is what you can shoot for. Right in the middle of the dandelion bloom your hive should be building up nicely and if you beat them to the punch that is an ideal time to split. They will think they swarmed and both hives will be happy. Perhaps this answer will help you and give Michael a chance for a second cup of coffee.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yes, Dave, thanks, I hope to someday buy you both a cup of coffee.

Dave,
Do you think I should feed sugar water in anticipation of splitting? If I wasn't splitting, I would be inclined to let them do their own thing, with the weather being so great, but perhaps I should feed to build up with the intention of splitting? Then what, should I find the queen and move her to the new hive with some brood comb, or leave the queen in the old hive?

I have not seen her yet this year. Ithe weather turns rainy for a while I will feed regardless, but I'd like to produce hardy stock without feed.
cheers,
Carrie
 

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Carrie
I am going to give you 2 answers and let you take your pick.

1) The money for honey answer “not meant disparagingly” is to give them sugar syrup as long as they will take it right now to cause a buildup. This will stimulate the queen into laying like the flow has started. If that works out you will be ahead of the game at split time.

2) My approach is best described by my actual behavior.
I was terrified with the colossal failure in my area and so many reports of dead outs this winter. I was advised by a friend to feed just for safety. I bought sugar and lemons, had the pan on the stove and by some stroke of inattention wandered off to find my bees not only flying but bringing in pollen. I put the pan away and the bees have been working ever since. It is my intention to not feed and let the bees do their thing. I hope for a little honey but do not working for it.

The most exciting thing for me this year is a report from a “nothing in my hive but bees” beekeeper that says 17 of 20 hives made it through the winter on their own. I intend to check this out further and see if they might help the rest of us with a report on what they did or did not do. I’ll leave them nameless since they probably don’t want to become celebrities.
 

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Carrie,
I forgot to answer the second part of your question. WRT the split, the queen goes for a ride in the nuc and the queen cells stay in the old hive. When you start seeing drones building up, you are getting a sign that swarming may and probably will follow. Check out Michael Bush’s and Sam Comfort’s websites for great info on this subject.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Dave,
I PM's you, but Im gonna put this out here. Dandelions are blooming, spring is in full gear. Ok, we decided that I am going to split into an empty new hive. It will be located very close to the other one, and I am going to move it in the future if the split succeeds. Is this how I proceed? --- Find the queen and move that bar to the new hive. Add a couple bars of brood and honey. (how many here?) Do I move the bars in the old hive together to take the place of the bars taken out? Then put empy bars in the end? I would think I need to move the brood in the old hive together to keep them from getting chilled. Do I need to worry about drone comb, or just use the presence of it as an indicator that it is time to split?
I couldn't find much on MB's site that applied to a TBH split , or Anarchy apiaries either.
Great spring here so far, isn't it?
Thanks
Carrie
 

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Carrie,

I think it is too early to split. I would like to see the bees build up more first. Our swarm season really starts in May but if the weather trend continues some may swarm a little early. You want a good flow since the bees will be need repairing damage and disrupted by the split. They make preps to swarm but not when we make the decision for them. If you use the 3ft or 3mile rule then you take the split for a ride in the car. If you keep them in the yard then give the split 2 or 3 extra shakes of bees to keep enough from going back to the original hive. I would put the queen’s bar and the next brood bar in the split with 3 bars of stores. Then, as Sam says, (not a quote), going for a ride 2 or 3 shakes of bees into the split; staying home 5 shakes of bees into the split. I would separate them in the yard as much as possible. Yes, put the brood back together and close up the gaps in the hive. Don’t forget if you’re not using a new queen that the old hive must have plenty of eggs so they can raise a new one. I’m sorry I can’t advise you on the drones since I leave the bees to do as they wish. They are however going to add drones in the spring, just because of the “Birds and the Bees”. If this helps the info you find at MB’s site applies to your hive the only difference is the shape of the hive. You could even think of your split as a five frame nuc. Any info you find on making nucs is the same thing you are doing. Both Michael and Sam cover this issue nicely and have both done forgotten more splits than I could expect to do in the rest of my life. I think the only reason you missed it is because you looking for TBH info. The advice you get from either of these guys quickly trumps anything I tell you. In fact if they give you conflicting advice; quickly grab your widest permanent marker and cover my information up.

I didn't answer the PM since I'm posting here. I also did not reread the thread since I just caught a swarm (my grandchildren just arrived). My hive is really buzzing right now (my grandchildren just arrived). I already feel sticky, like I’m being covered in propolis (my grandchildren just arrived). One little drone is mad at Grampy because the berries aren’t ready to pick. On a lighter note my oldest worker when she gave me my hug told me she brought her “joy spreader” this trip!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yes, Dave, I will wait a couple more weeks and if the weather continues, I will then split. I think I got it now; your post was very helpful. I think I am going to move the split to a friends land in a suburban farm area. Should I split and move it right away then? Make the split, close it up, strap it up, put it into the pickup and move it? I'll feel alot better when it's done, lol.
 

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Yes, make them prison bees as soon as you split them and move them to the new location right away. Make sure they have some ventilation during the trip. When I take bees for a ride I Screen the entrance with # 8 hardware cloth and add 2 ventilation screens among the top bars. I should make a video of that. If you are moving the hive and it has a screened bottom that is fine. I use my bait hives with a solid floor so I have to add the extra ventilation. Once the hive is set up and level I take the screens of and let them get to work. Sounds like your all set.
Unsolicited, free, old timer tip! If you have room for a couple of dwarf peaches near your hives there is a great chance that a swarm will hang in the peach tree while the scouts are out. If you check your peach trees every day during swarm season you may recover most of your swarms. I got this from an orchard beekeeper that told me the swarms had a clear preference for peach trees in his mixed orchard.
 
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