Splitting hive

  • Alex McLellan
  • Alex McLellan's Avatar Topic Author
9 months 3 weeks ago #61 by Alex McLellan
Alex McLellan created the topic: Splitting hive
I've now had a hive for ~3 months and I was hoping to split the hive, to have some redundancy in-case of another over winter loss.

I'm intending on following a Welsh government bee keeping guide, that suggested splitting a national hive and a half, which also has 1 additional super of honey. It suggests that the 2 brood frames could be transferred to a new brood box along with the supers and the queen to another, empty, brood box. And the remaining colony in the old brood box would create an emergency queen cell to replace the missing queen.

Unfortunately I've only ever seen my queen once and she's unmarked. While I managed to get the crown of thorns on her one time, she managed to get away. While I know she's somewhere in there, I'm really struggling to find her, which is preventing me from performing the split.

Should I try and persist with this strategy or apply for a swarm? Or perhaps purchase another queen? I would be very grateful for some advice.

I've also purchased some swarm lure and I've put pierced packets inside bait hives, but I've not managed to catch any swarms yet.
More
9 months 3 weeks ago #62 by BillODell
BillODell replied the topic: Splitting hive
Alex,
Rather than making sure you have the queen for one hive and being certain, it doesn't really matter that much. Whichever hive you has the queen will flourish with that queen, and the one without will throw up queen cells. You will know in a few days which is which.
On this website, under Training and Handouts there are a couple of useful handouts on artificial swarming you may like to read.
Essentially the idea is to move the hive to one side approx 1m away and remove the queen and some brood frames to a new hive (the swarm) on the original site. The flying bees will return, realise that their queen has fewer attendants and assume nursery bee roles to manage the brood.
The other hive (the parent colony) will realise in a couple of hours that there is no queen present and will start to make queen cells to re-queen. They will both be busy doing what they need to do to survive. Being just before the main flow starts there is a fair chance you will be successful as they will then be busy collecting honey whilst growing a queen and drawing out new foundation.
I would allow the half brood box to mature and the bees emerge and then remove. The best way would be to make sure queen not in the super, and put a queen excluder on top so she cant get down there to lay.
To be really sure - you'll need to find her. Or you could just take a few frames out and put into a new brood box or better still a nuc, making sure there are day old eggs in there, and the bees will do the rest.
We have a number of members in the Colwall area who may volunteer to come and help you achieve this - would you like us to put you in touch?
  • Alex McLellan
  • Alex McLellan's Avatar Topic Author
9 months 3 weeks ago #63 by Alex McLellan
Alex McLellan replied the topic: Splitting hive
Hi Bill, thanks very much for your prompt reply!

Unfortunately, there's some extra detail that I accidentally missed out. My colony's currently in a commercial hive. And despite putting the supers on without a queen excluder, the bees have decided to mainly fill them with honey; which is really nice of them, but not very helpful if I want to split them, when following that guide. I guess the extra space in the commercial hive means they're not after any more space for brood?

Or you could just take a few frames out and put into a new brood box or better still a nuc, making sure there are day old eggs in there, and the bees will do the rest.


So, just to clarify, I could take half of the frames in the commercial brood box and put them into an empty commerical brood box? And then presumably split the two supers between the brood boxes. If so, that would be ideal.

It would be really kind if someone did volunteer to give me a hand; But I think as this is such a minor thing - and that it would probably be difficult to maintain 2 meters, it's probably not worth the risk to them in the current climate.
More
9 months 3 weeks ago #64 by BillODell
BillODell replied the topic: Splitting hive
Alex
Yes you could take some frames out of one commercial box and put into another. So long as the boxes are the same it doesn't really matter much what they are so long as they are the same.
I take it the supers are nationals? You could extract the honey and give them a feed to draw the new foundation, or let them use up the honey in the supers. Do shake all the bees off and use a queen excluder or the supers will end up being laid by the queen and then you really can't use them for honey again.
The important part of the artificial swarm is the location of the hives and the timing. You want the flying bees to return to the new hive (in the old position) and ideally with the new queen, and the nurse bees in the original hive will get on with producing a queen cell.You may want to place a branch against the entrance of the original hive, now in a new location, as this will confuse the bees and they will think they have found a new home and be looking to re-orientate.
If you can't find the queen, don't worry too much, but shake the bees off the supers so she isn't up there and fit the excluders. That way she'll be in one brood box or the other. Give it a go!
www.mubk.org.uk/images/defra-publication...t_Find_the_Queen.pdf
The google map can't be displayed, ask your administrator for more details
[/url]
  • Alex McLellan
  • Alex McLellan's Avatar Topic Author
9 months 3 weeks ago #65 by Alex McLellan
Alex McLellan replied the topic: Splitting hive
Thanks very much Bill!
  • Alex McLellan
  • Alex McLellan's Avatar Topic Author
8 months 2 weeks ago #67 by Alex McLellan
Alex McLellan replied the topic: Splitting hive
I thought I'd provide an update.

I split the hive a month ago. I intended on the new hive, in the old location, being Queenless, and making that one slightly stronger. So I inspected each frame that I put into the new hive and gave it the sightly better frames. And it appeared to work, the new Queenless hive was definitely the stronger hive, it was also unusually aggressive and for 2 weeks after the split, we were being chased by honey bees on the otherside of our garden, which was unusual. I imagine this was due to it being Queenless.

One week after the split, I checked my old hive in the new location; I found some signs of eggs in the super, where I left the Queen excluder off. This confirmed that the Queen was indeed in the old hive. I decided to leave the hives for a couple of weeks, to avoid damaging any Queen cells and maintained some sugar syrup for the hives.

Last week, I checked on the hives, initially the old Queen-right hive, which was moved into a new location. It had appeared to be getting stronger over the last few weeks, with more bees emerging. To my surprise, there were no eggs or larvae and one of the frames had a queen cell that looked like it may have been recently used.

Opening the other hive, which for the last month I had assumed was Queenless, it had eggs and larvae. But it was still very aggressive, with that distinctive banana smell as soon as I remove the super.

I've just checked the hives, and both hives have eggs now. So it looks like I might have done it, and successfully split them. The new hive is still more aggressive than what I'm used to, being Queen right, I'm not sure what's happened to them.

I'm tempted to leave the supers on the hives over winter, as the bees don't have much honey stored in their brood chambers, although the supers are almost full.

Thanks very much for your help, hopefully both hives will make it through the coming winter.
Powered by Kunena Forum
 Copyright © 2017 Malvern and Upton Beekeepers Association. All Rights Reserved.