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Am I right that splitting a strong hive in spring will not prevent them from making a honey crop and will help a lot with preventing swarms?

I had thought a split would really hurt a crop, but this spring my hive was what I think of as string and I didn't split and when I reversed later it didn't seem to stop anything. They swarmed.
Before the swarm stores began showing up in the nest area (as a poster remarked in another thread, I to am thinking this may be an early sign of a pending swarm.. kind of like a sign the hive is starting to consider the idea).

So should I split strong hives in the spring or just try to prevent swarms with reverses or any of the other methods?

Mike
 

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Making a split is a form of making them swarm but on your own time. Beekeeping is different from 1 area to another but many see making splits as a form of a swarm preventive measure, not a cure or the only answer.

And you are correct-Making a split will not cause them to not make honey for you but them swarming sure can.
 

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If you have weak hives or nuc boxes you don't have to do even splits. In March I took 3 frames of capped brood from strong hives and gave it to weak ones. It is mostly experience to know what you want your hives to look like at a certain time. I had hives that were well on their way to swarming in May so the 3 frames of capped brood set them back some.

Near the end of April they were again too strong so I made up nucs with 3 frames of capped brood. So now I have double deeps hives with 2 medium honey supers on each, all full of bees. These will make honey. I have a nuc from each.

I did have one hive backfilling the brood nest when I went in for the second round of taking brood and bees. I noticed that they had filled the brood area with honey and then found swarm cells. I took the marked queen and the 3 frames of capped brood and put in a nuc. They still swarmed a time of two. I doubt that I will get any honey from them.

So I don't split in half, I just trim the size to still get a honey crop. I can combine the nucs in August if I have too many hives. This is why, after my hive tool and smoker, a nuc box is my favorite beekeeping tool.
 

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well said beedeetee. We split all summer long, some hives can provide 3 frames of capped, others only one. We add these brood frames together making 5frame nucs. By providing them "space" removing the brood we prevent swarming and increase our numbers. As BEESLAVE said its differs regionally and by area, we have a long "bee season" here, get with some other beeks in your area and see what works best THERE.
 

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Am I right that splitting a strong hive in spring will not prevent them from making a honey crop and will help a lot with preventing swarms?
Mike
Well, that all depends. "The Book" tells us a colony will rebuild itself to peak strength about 4 weeks after the split. It will then go on to make a honey crop.

That's true if conditions are perfect...which they rarely are in Maine...or northern Vermont where I keep my bees. All beekeeping is local. In my opinion, here in the North, a colony never gets built back to the strength they would have been if left unsplit and they didn't swarm. I haven't split a colony in the spring in years, and don't plan on going back on that route again.

So, you split your colony at Dandelion. You give up the Dandelion/Fruit bloom flow, and the honeysuckle/Bramble flow. Ok, they'll work on the main flow starting in mid-June. We then have a year like last...rain and 68-72. Remember? And there are no resources to rebuild the colony and they never get built back to full strength. And the main flow is washed out and they never make any honey until Goldenrod.

Or, they finally get built up to the point where they can store surplus...didn't make any early surplus because they were re-bulding...and we get a dry June and July. No honey then either. So, you gave up the early flows to your split and the conditions were poor afterwords, so you get nothing until maybe Goldenrod/Aster.

As I said, I no longer split my strong colonies as a swarm control measure. Rather I super early, reverse on the Dandelion flow, and manage my supering properly after that. I have very little swarming, and one of the best crops among beekeepers in the Northeast. Rather than split my colonies I overwinter nucleus colonies and use them as my replacement/requeening/increase colonies.

Our job as beekeepers is to maintain our colonies in top condition and strength at all times. It pays in the long run.
 

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Hi Mike,

You are to the North of me and inland a bit so adjust what I say to your conditions.

You need strong hives to produce a honey crop. A split results in two weaker colonies that will hopefully build up to produce honey for a later flow. Where I am, if I split in the spring or a hive swarms, I can forget about a spring/summer honey crop. There's still hope for the fall flow which is pretty good (for Maine) around here with lots of aster and golden rod

Reversing shouldn't be your only trick to prevent swarming. I'm still learning this lesson myself but what appears to be of greater importance is making sure there is plenty of space for the queen to lay in the brood nest. There are lots of resources on the net that talk about this - the idea is to keep the hive strong without having them swarm so that you get a nice honey crop.

I am realizing that there is no "magic bullet" to prevent swarming - that each hive needs individual observation and attention to its conditions. And it helps to have drawn comb available. Using foundation to relieve brood nest congestion didn't work for me this year - the bees treated it as an impassible barrier.
 

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I am not sure if this would work in your area. But, I split my hives pretty aggressively in the spring. To the extent I was willing to give up honey this year to make more bees for next. Well most of my splits have now built back up and they have made over 50lbs of honey so far and I have even more to extract pretty soon. So yes you can split them and still make some honey. But, I do have to say that we have had a good flow in my area so far this year. In a rainy year I might have had to feed a bunch. It was amazing how fast they can build back up after making splits.

Now the splits I made with a laying queen took right off. But, I was still shocked at how fast the walk away splits came back up to full strength and made a surplus.
 

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Michael Palmer, I am with you on splitting in the spring. I never, ever split in the spring. I want those boomers for heavy production. There are other management practices you can initiate to prevent swarming. Two primary reasons for swarming; queen lacks room to lay eggs, or queen is older and lacks production. ( Im assuming you manage for mites) The bees really don't need honey stores in spring. Remove all but outside two frames and add back in comb for her to lay. Use those honey frames to help nucs through the winter.

I make Aug/Sep splits, after main flow is over, then build up strong nucs for next spring. Much easier to bring nucs through, rather than large colonys. Minor flows in Sep/Oct, plus pollen and feed. I also re-queen in late Aug and get her laying well, because I want young bees through winter. This is what works for me, as noted by others, your weather, flow, management style will play a huge part.

I believe Michael is from your end of the country, and very successful. Glean as much as you can!

Kind regards
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks a lot for all the information.

I didn't know you could make fruit flow honey up here?!

One of my big problems is not having enough equipment (I know it won't take the place of experience) - it is kind of hard when you think, "I would like to do this" but you can't because you don't have extra frames, chambers or drawn comb. So I hope, God willing, this winter to put time into building up some reserve equipment. Then I will only lack experience :D

I am figuring up here the latest you can make a split and build to a hive is probably early august? That would give almost 3 months with goldenrod.

Thanks again,
Mike
 

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Am I right that splitting a strong hive in spring will not prevent them from making a honey crop and will help a lot with preventing swarms?

Correct and incorrect both. It's spring until June 21st. Around here, splitting after June 1st just reduces your honey crop.

If you split early enough, you can sacrifice a minor early flow here, in exchange for two hives ready to take advantage of the main flow.

When you split, and how you split, are crucial management aspects.
 
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