If you are working towards a honey crop do you make nucs or splits?
If so what do you look for (number of bees/frames/brood)?
At what point in the year would you not do this (so they will still make a honey crop)?
One can make nucs w/ a frame of capped brood, a frame of open brood (each w/ some pollen and honey), a frame of honey and a couple of frames of foundation or comb, which doesn't have to be done from each colony, but several. Doing this w/ a strong colony will help reduce swarming tendencies, while still leaving the colony strong enuf to produce a crop of honey.
Put your frames of brood and honey above a queen excluder on top of a strong hive over night. That should be enuf bees to keep the nuc/split going. Add a queen or queen cell to it and move to another location.
In ME, I would think that you would want to do this soon. If the weather ever warms up. I do this w/ my colonies right after getting them out of the orchards, which I am doing now. So robbing a frame of brood or honey here and there is what I will be doing next week.
If I'm going for a honey crop, I don't do either.
However, if I'm expanding, sometimes I can make a 50/50 split and introduce a new queen to the queenless split, feed them massively until they get built back up into two brood boxes each, stop feeding, and get a honey crop off each.
A little bit later I'll make nucs, pulling a couple of frames from a hive and giving the nuc a queen. Or pulling 4 frames from a hive and letting them rear a queen. Won't get any honey current year from the nuc, but it will be a producer next year.
Basically it all depends on how early you can split, how early you can get queens, and when your honey flows are. My guess is some season's aren't long enough to accomodate our plans, or perhaps our hopes.
Another consideration is to do it when there are plenty of drones around. For instance in my location, my flow ends in the middle of June and the bees kill off most of the drones at that time. I have to make splits knowing that when the virgin queens go on their mating flights, they have plenty of drones to mate with.
Thanks. I would like to increase hives but can't justify loosing a honey crop that might pay back some of their expense.
Another question. When running a split and placing the hives together with QE between (becoming a 2 queen hive) how far apart do the hives need between the bottom excluder and the top excluder? I read at least one deep but all I really got right now is a medium.
June!? Isn't that rather early? Last year I didn't see drones pushed out till about september.
Mike, this is what I did 2 weeks ago. Brushed all bees off of 3 frames of capped brood from a strong hive(brushed the bees into mother hive),put in a deep box, added 2 frames honey and drawn comb to fill out box. Took new deep(split) to another strong hive, took the inner cover off, placed an excluder on, then new deep box(split) on top of excluder,then inner/outter cover.Let that for 2 days. During that time the nurse bees from lower boxes came up to care for capped brood and also had some older bees(but not many) due to a top entrance. On day 3,I took split deep off and on top off excluder put a layer of plastic sheeting to basically separate the two hives, then put a caged queen in the new split for them to get use to. I let the queen stay in cage for 3 more days(it was apparent they accepted her, then let her out of cage). Now the split is doing great and have no doubt it'll produce surplus honey this year. With our cold/wet spring here this year, having the heat from lower boxes heating the new split on top has been a bonus. This method is covered in Allen Dicks web page, and it is easy and heads above other split methods I've used. This next week, I'll take new split off the mother hive and move to new location, thus 2 strong hives. Good luck. PP
I'm in this for honey, too. This may not work for you, as our climates are so drastically different. I make splits immediately after the honey flow is over. I buy queens for half. Don't want to risk it going into fall. I split into 4 and 5 frame nucs for a couple of weeks. If I see that one nuc is really booming with bees, I will move them back into a full brood chamber. I feed all of them heavily. This also helps break the mite cycle in the nucs that go queenless for a day or two, then spend 3-4 days releasing their new queen from her cage. I didn't lose a single nuc this past winter. There was one that was kinda weak but I don't think that was related to being a nuc.
Good ideas. Yes I would have to use set any splits on a hive because up here we are still getting upper 20s and lower 30s at night (it seems to take a long time for summer -or spring- to actually come).
The golden rod is pretty strong in the fall up here so that might work well too.
My swarm management consists of using nuc boxes. Starting in March I many pull frames of brood and bees from hives expanding fast to equalize weaker hives.
After that in April to mid May I will pull three frames of capped brood and bees along with the old queen if I am requeening, or I will add a new queen to start my new nucs to replace any hives lost over winter. I put them in a nuc box with a frame of pollen/honey and an empty drawn frame. The hatching brood will double the nuc population in a couple of weeks (better here than in the full hive).
My flow will start from mid May to early June. I want the hives to be powerful but not in swarm mode at that time. I don't know how to explain it, but I do this by the age of the queen, what's blooming and the date (and gut feeling I guess). Moving capped brood is the fastest way to change the population, so I move that rather than open brood and eggs.
I mark my queens so I know if a hive has swarmed. I lost one last year, but that was the only one for several years. The one that swarmed was actually one of the nucs that I had made up in May and it swarmed in August.
So to preserve the honey harvest I make nucs rather than splits. It is certainly walking a fine line between maximizing your honey harvest and swarming.
Forgot- I also was wondering.
If you take a queen out to force a colony to make up a QC, once it is capped and you want to take it out (a week) can you just put the old queen back in or do you have to introduce here? Last year when I had to make a split in an attempt to prevent swarming I just stuck her back in on a frame.
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