Hive Split at what temperature?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by waski2, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. waski2

    waski2 New Member

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    Hello all,

    I have one hive that I'd like to split into 2. At present in the Pacific Northwest temps are around 8 - 10 C (46 - 50 F). When I did a quick check of the hive the bees were "boiling over" the top frames. ( I assume this is the winter cluster?). What should the outside temperature be before a split is attempted?

    thanks
     
  2. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    It depends on how quickly you work. If you're slow about it, the brood can get chilled at lower temperatures because the bees covering them can only warm them by absolutely no more than 30 degrees F above the ambient temperature... so for the brood to remain at 94-95 degrees F indefinately while the frame is outside of the hive, the outside temperature would need to be 64-65 degrees F. The lower the actual temperature is from that figure the faster you'll need to move, so if the outside temperature is 63 degrees, you can spend several hours moving each frame, but at say 60 degrees you might have to move each frame in only one hour of time (obviously still plenty of time), but the lower you go the faster you'll need to be to keep the brood from chilling. At 46 F I would not even keep the frames outside of the hive for more than two minutes if it were me... that's still plenty of time to get half of them moved to a new box though.

    The bigger consideration here shouldn't be so much the temperature during the splitting, but the time of year. Unless you are using a mated queen, you'll definately want to wait until there is a healthy population of mature drones before splitting. I would be very surprised if you already have drones at this time of year where you are. So that's the bigger consideration, plus if you split now, and you get a late arctic blast, there will be fewer bees in each cluster and thus they are less likely to survive. So that's another consideration to keep in mind.
     

  3. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    By the way, you don't need to worry about them swarming, they won't do that until foragers start bringing back nectar... but you do need to worry about them starving because a heavy early population like that will go through a lot of food until there are flowers for them to forage from. As my state's apiarist says, more bees starve in April than January.
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    the first consideration should be whether you will be using mated or unmated queens for the splits. unmated (cells or virgins or walk away splits) will require drones. so mature drones are the first concern and after emerging drones require about 2 week to sexually mature.

    to me 'boiling over' is not a winter cluster (think cluster?). 'boiling over' of a hive is about the best description of a hive you WANT to split.

    at your location you may be subject to a coastal effect on temperature?? as a monitor I think fairly constant day temperature of about 60 plus (and night time temperature that don't fall to freezing) is good splitting temperature.
     
  5. Sundance

    Sundance New Member

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    At those temps I can't imagine splitting yet. It can be done but,
    as Tec and Bens have stated there is a danger if a freeze comes.

    Do they have plenty of stores?? There isn't a nectar source yet is
    there??

    Pollen source?? Are they bringing in pollen??

    There is likely plenty of time for splitting when there is nectar and
    pollen (if there isn't now).

    Good luck
     
  6. waski2

    waski2 New Member

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    Thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

    There seem to be alot of bees above the top bars of the top super (there are two supers), and since this is my first winter with bees, I'm not really sure what that means.

    Temp here today is about 10 c (50 F), and the forecast is for the night time temp to stay above freezing and over the next two weeks going up to about 13 c (55 F) during mid day. Nothing has really started blooming yet.

    As it has been cool I have not pulled any frames yet, so I'm not really sure whats going on down in the hive. In this part of the world queens are difficult to come by until summer, and by the looks of things I will have to make a split before then. As I have no tools or experience to graft, I was thinking of separating the two supers and see what happens. I assume the old queen would have to be in one or the other. The queenless box should produce thier own queen. Does this sound reasonable?

    I will try an attach a photo I took today of the top of the hive. It has a plexiglass inner cover, and if you look below it you can see what I mean by bees boiling over. The white stuff is drivert sugar.

    Thanks again for your time.

    [attachment=0:3c33xhme]DSC_0624.jpg[/attachment:3c33xhme]
     

    Attached Files:

  7. milapostol

    milapostol New Member

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    I'd be too nervous to split at that temp too, especially if I knew brood were around. I'd like a warmer day, sunny, and no wind.
     
  8. rast

    rast New Member

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    My first thought is that you may not have as many bees as you think, they may have all moved up following the food and are now up to the sugar on the top bars. The bottom box may not have any bees in it. I would do a quick check when the temp gets in the 50's or just tip the whole hive to see how heavy it feels.
     
  9. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    In that picture, the cluster seems to be 'boiling over' in that particular area- it seems to be the top of the large cluster. Other areas appear to have bare areas on the tops of the frames from the photo. I think this is just normal.
    If you split when winter is not over and there is no bloom and no drones, you won't get a mated queen and you may starve some bees and lose them. If they are still clustered, you shouldn't divide the winter cluster.
    Your night time temps must still be in the 30's? What's blooming there right now, and got any drones yet?
     
  10. jajtiii

    jajtiii New Member

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    I personally never split before I have actually done a full, top-to-bottom inspection. There can be a million different things going on in the hive (my bees nearly always do the unexpected or unheard of...). If you do not think it is warm enough to do an inspection (I personally think 50 degrees is more then warm enough, but each to his/her own), then I would not do a split.

    Once you can pull all of the frames, you'll have a better idea of what you have and how/when to go about doing a split (walk away or otherwise).