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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last year was my first year keeping bees. I kept two colonies, and both made it through the winter; both look strong.

I purchased woodenware for three more colonies. My question is, should I split one colony and buy two nucs or packages, or should I split two and buy one?

It seems like a simple question of economics. If I buy a colony vs. splitting, it will cost me an extra $75 or so up front. However, by not splitting, my current colony would stay at full strength and should produce more honey, which I could sell to offset the cost.

Last year we didn't harvest much of anything to ensure that our bees would make it through their first winter, so I'm not sure which way is the smarter way to go.

Does anyone have any opinions about this? Thanks :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hmmm, do you think I should wait that long to split? I thought I might purchase a few queens in three weeks or so and divide then. Do you think that's too early? I'm in central Virginia, and it has been pretty warm for the past few weeks.
 

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Swarm control can be done on your over-wintered hives by making divides.
Why pay for bees that you have on hand.
If your over wintered hives swarm you will have lost two assets.
1. your bees in the swarm
2. your proposed honey crop
You might consider making nucs to control swarming and later re-unite the bees so that the old queens are replaced with new ones.
Ernie
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Check. I had planned on buying one package because I haven't ever divided before, and I figured it might be too much stress to divide one colony twice.

Okay, I hadn't thought of that. I suppose that if I make nucs now I should let them grow their own queens?
 

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>>>>I suppose that if I make nucs now I should let them grow their own queens?<<<<<

NO. That would take a month. (Before you got new bees from her) It's often iffy Re: survival, mating efficiency, bloodlines, Enough good nourishment .....

IMHO? Spring for the queens.

dickm
 

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Hmmm, do you think I should wait that long to split? I thought I might purchase a few queens in three weeks or so and divide then. Do you think that's too early? I'm in central Virginia, and it has been pretty warm for the past few weeks.
How many frames of capped brood do you have in both hives? From that number you can make a better judgement as to your making 3 successful nucs. You will need at least one frame of open brood and eggs, a frame of pollen and honey(one or two) and a frame or two of capped brood with attached bees for ea. nuc. Err on the generous side in this case. OMTCW
 

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How early are nucs and queens available in your area? If you can get queens now, I'd make splits and introduce new queens now. I just made a walk away split yesterday with my strongest hive... will do the same tomorrow, weather permitting, with two of my other strong colonies. And after they get their queen laying, I'll start feeding to build them up. I expect to get some honey off them this year. Usually do. But you've got to do it early enough. June is WAY too late here.
Regards,
Steven
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
First, I want to say thanks for all of your help and suggestions. It really helps quite a bit.

This afternoon I went out and checked both hives. I knew they were in good shape, but they are even stronger than I had expected. I saw bees emerging from cells, which surprised me, because I didn't think the queens would be laying so early. I actually didn't see too many new eggs in either colony because there wasn't room; between the honey and the brood, there weren't too many open cells where the respective queens could lay. So my new concern was that I would see swarm cells; luckily I didn't. So I feel that I have to split at this point.

To answer a few of your questions, nucs are not available in this area until June. And I haven't found anyone in central Virginia who breeds queens, so I will have to expand the search a bit.

I expect bees to emerge from their capped cells by next weekend. I will probably go back in to the hive tomorrow and move a relatively empty frame into the center of the brood to give the queen a new place to lay. I'll order a pair of queens and divide next weekend. Does that sound like a good plan?
 

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You didn't mention how many frames of bees and brood you have. If you have 2 deeps and one is filled with bees/brood, then I absolutely agree with Ernie. Why spend money on a package when you can take some frames, make a nuc from surviving overwintered stock from each hive and get some of your genetics extended? I feel all you get with a package is a question mark. You have no idea how they'll do. Give me overwintered survivor stock anytime.

John
 
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