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I would like to ask when you start your splits in relation to your swarm date. I thought I had zeroed in on the correct timing for splits for me(near St Louis,Mo). It looks like I was off in my reasoning. I thought March 15 was right but then I heard from Michael Bush that seems very early. My reasoning was 3 weeks before the swarm date(April 15). Is swarm control not related to split timing?
 

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I like to split right before the onset of swarming. You have to be on your feet because that timing is not totally calendar based but temperature has a large influence. Bees start swarming normally in my area the second week in May. My queens which had to be ordered before this king sized winter are arriving the first week in May. we do the best we can.
 

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I would like to ask when you start your splits in relation to your swarm date. I thought I had zeroed in on the correct timing for splits for me(near St Louis,Mo). It looks like I was off in my reasoning. I thought March 15 was right but then I heard from Michael Bush that seems very early. My reasoning was 3 weeks before the swarm date(April 15). Is swarm control not related to split timing?[/QUOTE

How did you come up with the swarm date of April 15th? Would that be specific to the geographic area you live in? Thanks!
 

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agree with what has been said so far. the colder than normal winter will likely push swarming down the calendar by a few weeks. i would look to split when the boxes start getting crowded with bees and there is a strong flow on, or if you start to see signs of swarm preps, i.e. backfilling the broodnest and/or queen cells.
 

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There is a lot of variable to consider such as,
1. Were the bees pushed with some sort of stimulative feeding via pollen sub and syrup
2. Variety of bees
3. Amount of early spring heat.

I usually split the second week of April with swarm season beginning the end of April/Early may. Most of the time I don't do even splits. I will take 2 frames from this hive and 4 frames from that hive and 1 frame from that hive, etc.
 

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I don't split until I have four eight frame mediums full of bees, brood and honey (the equivelant of two ten frame deeps). That might happen in mid April. It might not happen until June. Usually it happens about the second week of May.
 

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Waiting until some hypothetical date, adjacent to the beginning of swarming here in Tucson, Arizona - before splitting, would very likely be counterproductive. Since most years some hives are swarming, every month of the year.

This winter season (2013-2014), we've had a few nights of light frost (late November - early December). In November we had several wet/rainy days. Those November rains inspired an extensive green carpet of wildflower seedlings, and though we had no additional rains, the tiny wildflowers are blooming now and providing a fairly strong build-up flow (if more rain had arrived earlier, the wildflowers would have grown much larger before blooming).

Rather than using the calendar to determine optimum times to produce splits - I produce splits when colonies are in expansion mode and resources are available to continue supporting expansion mode. And provide feed if natural resources unexpectedly fall short.

I've been feeding the weaker ones, a little, to help them hang on until they have larger field crews. And whenever one had filled a super or two with bees, brood, and stores (nectar/pollen); I move them to a new location, place an empty hive at the old location. Then I move a frame of emerging brood, with attached nurse bees, back to the original location, I also catch and move the old queen back to the original location, fill in that box with empty comb/frames. Put empty combs in any empty spots in the relocated hive. Finally, in the, now queenless colony, I place a ripe queen cell in a cell protector, between the frames in the center of the brood nest. Most of the older field bees return to the old location, where they provide a good resource stream to support the old queen and comb of emerging nurse bees, into rebuilding their now missing brood nest, and continuing their build-up.

Conversely, the new colony, has lots of brood and emerging workers, including stored resources, provided earlier from their, now missing, field force, to tide them over, until their own field force expands, meanwhile their new queen will emerge from her cell, mate, and begin laying, catching up where the old queen left off.
 

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It's a judgement call based on weather and the bee's buildup rate. It is different every year and in every locality. If you wait until the bees have built up, you can get more splits, or you can have stronger splits, or you can leave the parent colony stronger. You have to use your best judgement in light of your conditions. If in doubt, find someone that is local to you, and is successful, and get their opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It sure would be easier for me if the bees looked at the calender. But I guess I'll have to loosen up and just watch what's happening in my hives. I thought that the usual swarm date for the area would signal when to split. In my area it's about April 15. So I figured if they usually swarmed on the 15th then I would usually split 3 weeks prior to that. I'm just looking for some guidelines to help me with my first try at this.
 

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It sure would be easier for me if the bees looked at the calender. But I guess I'll have to loosen up and just watch what's happening in my hives. I thought that the usual swarm date for the area would signal when to split. In my area it's about April 15. So I figured if they usually swarmed on the 15th then I would usually split 3 weeks prior to that. I'm just looking for some guidelines to help me with my first try at this.
Who said this stuff was easy?:)
I read through the responses with the thought that I might be able to add something more. I can't because they are dead on. So I'll say the same things just a little differently.
Flexibility is the key because of all the variables involved, but when the time is right you'll know it. Use your normal swarm season as a baseline but weather, colony strength, bloom, etc. will determine the actual timing.
FWIW: I have queens coming beginning of April, which is normally a good time. This year I would not be surprised at all if I have to bank them for a week or two before I can split them safely.
 

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If you're feeding them, then you would be able to split them as early as they start brooding up. The problem is getting mated queens if you haven't pre-ordered them. They're available as early as the first week of April (if you've already ordered them).
 

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I feed mine around late Dec. on to the early Spring flow. During this time the queen is laying and building up the hive. When the temp. is consistent around 70s to 80s with nice weather pattern I will be splitting mine. By that time there are many frames of nurse bees to cover the brood at the lower temp. in the night time. Make sure you have enough bees to cover some of the nurse bees in the new nuc hive. Adding extra shakes will do. The old hive will be raising their own queen that still has many field and nurse bees in there.
 

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I feed syrup if the colony is light in December January 15 or so the maples start turning red. I give them all the syrup they will take. I keep track of my strongest colonies with a FLIR camera. These colonies get inspected for drone production. When I see drone production I start doing splits. Hopefully splitting starts late February. I have had queen cells as early as 6 February. Lots of swarms that year.
The bees have a pollen source pretty much year round in my location.
 

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Another good topic from the past. Chomping at the split bit already, and I still have 10 weeks to go here in Richmond. Generally it is safe to start doing splits once one has CAPPED drone brood in their hives. If you are buying mated queens, split once the maples start and you have enough bees in your existing hives to make the split fairly strong.
 
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