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Six hives seem to be typical but I have two that may expand too fast - Last year, each of these two had swarmed by 3/15. one is currently three medium supers, probably packed out and the other is four meds with a little honey left in the top from last year. I'm setup where I think I have about a 50/50 shot at catching my own swarms (closest bait hives went out last weekend to the spots they chose last year).

These bees are busy and already ignoring pollen substitute (open fed, about 500y away) because they re finding the good stuff. Should I not bother feeding pollen sub as they seem to find plenty? I'm zone 8b and really do not expect another hard freeze this year - it may dip below 32, but'll be 65 the next day. is it too early for a walk away split on these? If not, should I just split the supers or do it frame by frame?

I appreciate and will consider all input, but know I can't describe all the variables and that no one remote can make the best decision for me - what do you THINK?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Hi Dogfuel. You are correct that I am too remote to make a decision for you, but my input would be to suggest not feeding pollen so early that you have to even think of splitting in early February. I will stand corrected, but it seems to me that there are an awful lot of southern keeps that are playing with trouble by feeding pollen all the time, or at least too early. Not familiar with beekeeping in the south, but I am seeing people like you concerned about swarming that are feeding pollen. Maybe I am wrong, but that's something I noticed lately. Are your medium supers sitting on deeps? If not, that's just not enough space. Good luck. J
 

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I am 70 miles south of you and got into all of my hives this weekend. I have frames of wall to wall brood with emerged drones and drone brood in every colony (about 20). In 2017, I split my hives on March 4. In 2018, February 17. In 2019, February 23 & 24. The way things are looking for me right now, I will probably be splitting my hives the weekend of February 22 and 23 this year, so long as the 15 day forecast does not show freezing temps. Drones will not be a problem. My only concern is a cold snap with smaller nucs not being able to keep all of this capped brood warm.

I have not fed pollen sub since 2015. My bees bring in pollen all year long and I just don’t see the point. If they are not taking it, there is no need to keep feeding it. Pollen is only becoming more abundant in the coming days.

Caught my first swarm last year on March 10. First swarm of 2018 was caught on March 16. First swarm of 2017 caught on March 29. (None of these from my hives)

I will be checking for queen cells every weekend until I split. Will definitely have all hives split no later than the first weekend of March.
 

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Six hives seem to be typical but I have two that may expand too fast - Last year, each of these two had swarmed by 3/15. one is currently three medium supers, probably packed out and the other is four meds with a little honey left in the top from last year. I'm setup where I think I have about a 50/50 shot at catching my own swarms (closest bait hives went out last weekend to the spots they chose last year).

These bees are busy and already ignoring pollen substitute (open fed, about 500y away) because they re finding the good stuff. Should I not bother feeding pollen sub as they seem to find plenty? I'm zone 8b and really do not expect another hard freeze this year - it may dip below 32, but'll be 65 the next day. is it too early for a walk away split on these? If not, should I just split the supers or do it frame by frame?

I appreciate and will consider all input, but know I can't describe all the variables and that no one remote can make the best decision for me - what do you THINK?

Thanks in advance!
So for what it's worth, I am zone 8A and I am already seeing drones on the porch of my hive's. Like PSM1212 said, I also will be splitting on Feb 22nd weekend as long as forecast allows
 

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Don't split until you have mature drones. I'm in zone 6B so it is colder here, 27° right now. I usually don't see drones until April, although last year's spring took so long to start that I didn't see them until May. If you split too early then you'll probably need to replace the new queen later on that summer as she won't be mated well.
 

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Six hives seem to be typical but I have two that may expand too fast - Last year, each of these two had swarmed by 3/15. one is currently three medium supers, probably packed out and the other is four meds with a little honey left in the top from last year. I'm setup where I think I have about a 50/50 shot at catching my own swarms (closest bait hives went out last weekend to the spots they chose last year).

These bees are busy and already ignoring pollen substitute (open fed, about 500y away) because they re finding the good stuff. Should I not bother feeding pollen sub as they seem to find plenty? I'm zone 8b and really do not expect another hard freeze this year - it may dip below 32, but'll be 65 the next day. is it too early for a walk away split on these? If not, should I just split the supers or do it frame by frame?

I appreciate and will consider all input, but know I can't describe all the variables and that no one remote can make the best decision for me - what do you THINK?

Thanks in advance!
Made a split here yesterday after seeing a few drones running around the hive
 

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I spotted a drone flying outside one of my hives yesterday in coastal Virginia. They are acting like it is late March, so I did some manipulations to keep them out of swarm mode, but looking at our 4 week forecast, I still don't want to be making splits just yet. I might be in late March when they are saying 70's, but we all know the weatherman has been very wrong before.
 

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Hello, Dogfuel, and Welcome to Beesource!

Yes, it is still a bit too early to split as of the 8th of February. They need full strength colonies to keep the brood warm until the nights warm up. When bees are flying out at a rate of 115 to 120 bees per minute in the mid-morning, add the first super. No sooner than 22 days later, consider either the second super or an early split. I'd opt for the second super and let the bees build up so there are DEFINITELY enough bees for both resulting colonies.
 
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