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Next year will be my 2nd year as a beek. This year I had 7 hives, consolidated down into 5 strong ones going into winter.

Being that it was my first year I did not get all that much honey, but that was to be expeteced. I do believe I have 5 strong hives that will (I hope) make it thru the winter.

Now next year I am going to expand a bit. Was thinking about spliting a few hives. I know how to do the splits that's not the question. The question is when is the best time to do the split and what affect will that have on honey production for that hive? Does spliting a hive usualy wipe it out for that year supering?
 

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If you have 5 stong "producers" in spring, you could make up 3, 4 , maybe 5 "splits" from just one of the hives and have 4 left to produce honey. But, a hive can provide a split w/o loss of honey too. And, many use a "split" to control Varroa (and still have honey).
 

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I have had luck getting nucs April 1st, installing them on foundation, and having them produce surplus honey by season's end. Based on that, I plan to split all 14 of my hives as soon as drones are available, which could be mid-March in my locale. I will then let the splits raise their own queens, and I expect to get a good crop of honey from the origianal 14 hives, because they will rebound quickly. Then I should have a good possibility of honey from the splits.
That's my plan, anyway. But you know how plans can go. :doh:
Regards,
Steven
 

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I find the best time for me to make "splits" for increases is during the swarming season, which around here starts sometime in mid May or the end of May. Since you are going into winter with strong hives you will most likely have to deal with swarming next year. Why not use their swarming instinct to your advantage and increase your hive numbers at the same time. I watch for swarm cells to appear in the hives. Once the cells have larvae in them, but before they are capped, I move the old queen, together with a frame of brood and a frame of honey to a new hive. Add a shake of young bees to this new hive and close it up. In one step you "swarmed" your string hive, initiated a break in the brood cycle which should help you with your varroa numbers, and started a new hive at an early time of the year.

The other advantage of this method is that your five strong hives will still be more than strong enough to make a decent honey crop for you. They raise a new queen, which will take about three weeks before she starts laying eggs. Meanwhile the hive does not need to care for brood, foragers will continue to collect nectar, and since there is not much else to do the bees really focus on collecting nectar. I also found that hives that went through their swarming stage seem more contend and really focused on moving along. Meanwhile your old queen is busy building up her new hive and getting it strong for the winter. The only disadvantage I see with this method is that your hive count climbs pretty fast... so at some point you need to come up with a different strategy to pre-empt swarming... :)

Good luck!
 
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