Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
560 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I would like to increase my hive count, so I was thinking...

I can get queens from overwintered nucs at a very good price. Last year I got 7 nucs from the same guy and they were the best I have had. So I want to split a few of my overwintered hives and add the queens that I buy, to make early nucs.
Now this year is strange, normally the bees start brooding up in mid Feb, this year we have not had much of a winter and they have hardly had a brood break. Some of my hives have more bees now than in autumn and I was wondering how to take advantage of that. Average temps are predicted to be 10 degrees Celsius for the next three weeks. When its not to windy the bees are bringing in pollen.

So how early is to early? Is it just down to how many frames of bees it takes to form a viable cluster to keep brood warm? Would it be more difficult to introduce queens? Any advice welcome, even if its just to calm down a wait a few months...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,570 Posts
Stpehen. It depends what your goals are for this year. If your goal is to increase hive count and you are not worried about honey production it is better to wait a few months. The reason I say this is that splits that are made later, just before swarming occurs can be stretched farther. You are unlikely to suffer any chilled brood in a warm June or July. Queens produced at that time are usually better than queens produced earlier. There is much less worry and the weather is more cooperative.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
560 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Stephen. It depends what your goals are for this year. If your goal is to increase hive count and you are not worried about honey production it is better to wait a few months.
I plan on having half my hives for honey production and the other for increases.

The reason I say this is that splits that are made later, just before swarming occurs can be stretched farther. You are unlikely to suffer any chilled brood in a warm June or July.
So waiting till May will be more productive? Chilled brood is a major concern, but to put things in perspective, one hive I inspected 8 days ago had 3 1/2 frames of capped brood. I would expect that in the middle of March, not on the 1st of February when they should be brood less.

Queens produced at that time are usually better than queens produced earlier. There is much less worry and the weather is more cooperative..
I will be producing my own queens again this year, I was just looking at ways to take advantage of the weather here in Germany. The Idea is to buy some overwintered Queens from last year, I know the breeder and his queens were the best I have had. I want to split hives to produce Nucs as early as possible and am not sure when that is. Spring will be early this year perhaps very early.

Getting impatient and can't wait for spring, thanks for the reply.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,570 Posts
Stephen, my experiences are that when I gamble I lose. You may be luckier than I. A strong hive has more confidence to expand, and you will likely have more brood if you keep it strong for a while than if you divide it early and suffer a weather setback.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,183 Posts
When you are doing a queen right split you don't have to worry about mating weather or the hive going strong enough to make a good queen. So just make sure both hives have enough bees to take care of the brood that they have - and are strong enough to build up efficiently - and go ahead and make the splits. Why would you not?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
560 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
When you are doing a queen right split you don't have to worry about mating weather or the hive going strong enough to make a good queen.
Thats what I was thinking.

So just make sure both hives have enough bees to take care of the brood that they have - and are strong enough to build up efficiently
Using standard hive bodies, 2 nucs in a box like Michael Palmer does with his nucs, should help with warmth issues. I have frames of honey and drawn comb on hand as well as pollen sub, which should help with build up before and after splitting.

and go ahead and make the splits.
Thats what I wanted to hear.

Why would you not?
Thats the reason for the post, I can't see why not. But there are many much wiser than I, here at beesource.
Thanks for the reply.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,183 Posts
There's another factor that I would find encouraging - assuming these are local queens coming from overwintered nucs, I also would guess that your source is a queen producer who is moving out the queens to make up mating nucs. Yes? If so, then by the time that happens reproductive season must be underway, and splitting should be a fair bet. Of course anything could happen - and my assumptions could be wrong.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
560 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
There's another factor that I would find encouraging - assuming these are local queens coming from overwintered nucs, I also would guess that your source is a queen producer who is moving out the queens to make up mating nucs. Yes?
A hobby beekeeper of Russian descent. Used to keep bees for a living in Siberia. Very interesting fellow.

At this time of the year he uses his nucs to replace or boost his 30 production colonies and then has spare queens and nucs to sell.
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,094 Posts
>When can I increase at the earliest?

The right question is when is the best time to do splits. I might get by with one in April, but that doesn't mean it's the best time. The best time where I am, would be maybe mid May depending on the colony and the year. The best time is when I have four eight frame medium boxes full of bees and brood and honey. That's a split that is strong enough to quickly build up.

bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
560 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
>When can I increase at the earliest?

The right question is when is the best time to do splits. I might get by with one in April, but that doesn't mean it's the best time. The best time where I am, would be maybe mid May depending on the colony and the year. The best time is when I have four eight frame medium boxes full of bees and brood and honey. That's a split that is strong enough to quickly build up.
But does that question give me the answer I seek? And that is to get the most splits/nucs in a season out of one hive. If one starts earlier maybe that can be increased. Its kind of like you splitting a package four times in one season, it wont work every year, but this could be my year.

Thank you for your reply Michael.
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,094 Posts
>But does that question give me the answer I seek?

I believe it does. Doing splits too early does not result in more hives than doing them at the best time does, nor does it result in strong hives.

> And that is to get the most splits/nucs in a season out of one hive. If one starts earlier maybe that can be increased.

Not true. If one starts when you have four eight frame medium boxes (or equivilent) then that hive will quickly catch up and can be split again. A bunch of weak splits that languish will not result in more nucs and they will not be strong enough to split more often.

> Its kind of like you splitting a package four times in one season, it wont work every year, but this could be my year.

I have sometimes split a hive five times in one year, but I was rearing queens and I had drawn comb and I made strong splits. If I were trying to get the maximum, I might have gotten more, I don't know, but the flow has a lot to do with how many you can get.

It comes down to this. A bee colony is an economy. When you are poor and can barely pay your bills, it's very hard to get ahead. When you are fairly well off, and have enough to pay your bills, then you can get ahead. A colony that can barely make it's overhead doesn't build up quickly. A colony strong enough to meet it's overhead and have a surplus of workers to make a "profit" can build up quickly. This point is often called "critical mass". Once a colony is at "critical mass" it grows exponentially faster than one that is below "critical mass". As Jesus said: "To him who has much, more will be given. To him who has little even that which he has will be taken away from him." Success brings more success.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Thank You Mr. Bush.

I just pushed back my expansion plans for a month. That makes perfect sense.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
560 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Thank You Mr. Bush.
I just pushed back my expansion plans for a month. That makes perfect sense.
Not what I wanted to hear, but yes it makes perfect sense, I will wait as well. What's the use in asking for advice and then not taking it, especially if it comes from Michael Bush.

Thanks again for the explanation Michael
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,076 Posts
I've tried it both ways and found that here in my climate, the optimum time for spring splits is between March 25th and April 1st. The main flow starts between April 20th to 25th. If I make splits up and give them a good mated queen, they will build up and make a crop of honey and exceed the production potential of the original colony. There is some risk, a late freeze can damage fruit tree bloom which can set them back by several weeks.

The key factors are:
1. spring buildup flows of pollen and nectar from March 15th to April 5th.
2. Bees in good condition with at least 5 frames of brood before splitting.
3. Give each split at least 2 very good frames of brood.
4. Have fully drawn comb for them to move onto.
5. Must be done at least 28 days before the main flow starts.

If they are fed early, you can have more frames of brood when you split. Florida queens mated and sold earlier than March 25th have been poor in my experience.
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,094 Posts
>I've tried it both ways and found that here in my climate, the optimum time for spring splits is between March 25th and April 1st. The main flow starts between April 20th to 25th.

That sounds about right for Alabama. The right time varies from colony to colony as well as year to year. Everything this last year was a month behind. Everything the year before was a month early...
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top