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Im getting ready to start my splits for overwintering nucs in a 5 on 5 configuration. I am going to let the bees make there own queen from eggs pulled from some of my better hives. I have over wintered late swarms this way but never splits. So heres the question for the panel of experts. What date is the latest date you have made a split and still have them built up enough to get thru the winter.
 

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very late here since very little time is required for building up a split (mine are typically 5 and not 5 on 5). I am not certain I could give an exact date since each year is so different. late october in most years, mid november in others and in at least one year I could have been splitting (very little brood however) in the first week of december <in the mean time the yankee bee keepers are shivering in their long johns which is how god meant things to be (add your favorite funny face here).
 

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I thought I'd bring this one up again, and hopefully find out how some of you other Yankees do it (Southerners, feel free to chime in as well).

I'm thinking of starting a 5-frame nuc by stealing a frame or two from each of my existing hives. I would like to have at least one around as a resource, and to jump-start the expansion of my apiary next year. If I start it now (in southern PA) should I count on feeding it throughout the rest of the year? Are my chances of over-wintering better if I keep it in a 5-on-5 configuration, or if I move it into a 10-frame box and give them a chance to grow into a second hive body (or is that just ridiculous at this time of year)?
 

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Being that far north, and using more than one donor hive, I would think about starting with more than 5 frames. If you take 3 frames from each hive, you stand a lot better chance of being successful, without hurting the large hives all that much.
 

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It would seem to me d.magnitude that some critical mass of workers would be essential for making the winter. here the number of bees is not so essential although a dribble of sugar water certainly makes a lot of difference in the activity of any of these extremely small hives. I have overwinter here (last year) in units as small as 5 frame baby nucs.

I originally obtain the idea of fall splitting from Michael Palmer who says he does the same thing in northern Vermont so location is likely not so important as is 'b' cultural practice in a particular location. It does make spring time expansion and/or nuc or queen rearing much less frantic.
 

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I have made up nucs in mid July and was able to get them through winter with feeding of course. I start them as five frame nucs and feed them until they have two deep nuc boxes filled with honey/syrup. I also have had good success with single 10 frame deeps, although I prefer the two deep nuc configuration, because I think the bees have better success moving up then they do going from side to side.

The biggest problem here is robbing out of nucs by the stronger hives come July and August. That observation has led me to keep my entrances reduced pretty much all year around on all of my hives. I have never removed a colony from a wall or soffet where they had such a large entrance as they do with a langstroth. By doing this I am able to keep the robbing down and I have seen no adverse effect on honey production.

This year the honey flow has lasted a couple of weeks longer than in years past, but I know the end is just around the corner, and feed will be needed for all of my splits. I will be breaking down pretty much all of my hives into single deeps and 5 frame nucleus hives in an attempt to get to 100 hives or more. Feed feed feed!
 

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Thanks Yuleluder, that's some pretty local advice (I'm in southern Chester County). I think I may go for it.

My primary motivation is to increase my 3 hives to... as much as possible(?) for next year. At what time of year are you splitting your hives into single 10-frame deeps? My 3 hives were started this year on new foundation which is now about 75% drawn out. Do you think I'd be better off splitting my hives into single deeps (that thought kind of scares me), or pulling frames to make one or more nucs, and replacing the frames of brood, etc. with more new foundation?

I have been feeding continuously, by the way, but I suppose I'll stop when any of my colonies has completely drawn it's foundation.
 

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yuleluder writes:
The biggest problem here is robbing out of nucs by the stronger hives come July and August.

tecumseh:
robbing can be a problem very early or late here. I have found robber screens on everything reduces this risk to almost nothing.
 

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d.magnitude,

Most of my hives are in northern Montgomery county. I'm going to split into ten frame hives this weekend along with any other woodenware I have.

If you have nucs use those as I think you will probably have better luck with those. I would do your splits soon and start getting them ready for winter. Make sure you use at least three frames of brood (5 frame deep nuc), otherwise the colony could take forever to build up a good population. Since you are relatively new I wouldn't push to hard or you may end up with nothing come spring. Make your splits nice and strong to help ensure they build up well and are full of bees and honey/syrup come September. Better to go a little too strong then too weak in my opinion, especially since the flow typically comes to a grinding halt around this time of year. Be ready to feed your splits and possibly your full size hives. Give me a call if you want to chat. My numbers on my website.
 

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You have to watch nucs made up, to strong ,to early. Just watch them as they will swarm on any flow if they are to strong. You may have to take bees and brood from them to keep them from swarming if they get too crowded. Just my 2 cents.
 

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My plan for now is to fill a 5-frame deep nuc w/ 3-ish frames of brood and 2 frames of honey and pollen. Then introduce a mated queen, and top the whole thing with a medium nuc box full of foundation (it's what I've got). And then let the feeding begin... If they draw out and fill that medium box, I can put on another to see if they can fill that before winter.

My aim is to come into spring with the bees up in those mediums, which I can use to start a new all-medium hive (I gotta try it out). Does that sound like a reasonable plan?

-Dan
 

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Yea, that should work good.
 

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I take the last batch of queens in my 2 frame mating nucs and move them to 5 frame polystyrene nucs the beginning of September. Robbing is definitely an issue here too. The best way I have found is to have a 3/4" entrance at the bottom and then a 3/4 screened vent at the top of the front and back. The robbers are drawn to the screened vent holes and not the entrance. Once the cold hits, I just cork off the vent holes (as seen in the picture below)

 

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I just went to check on my new nuc, made up with 5 full deep frames, and topped w/ 5 med. frames of foundation. The new queen (introduced 6 days ago) seems to have been accepted, because the few available cells in the deeps had new eggs. There were a couple of queen cells present, but I cut those, assuming they were made up before the new queen was accepted (worry #1).

They have 5 full frames of med. foundation above them, but have not touched it. I am feeding them with a small inverted jar to stimulate them into drawing it out. I'm afraid that they're going to run out of room though, because they're not utilizing the foundation (worry #2).

Any tips?
 

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Were the queen cells opened and full of royal jelly or were they capped? Either way I think once the new queen became more established she would destroy the queen cells. I would have cut them out also after introducing a new queen.

The dearth has set in hard and the bees will need that feed if they are going to draw anything out. The nuc is new, wait until it is a bit more established and they will start to draw out the frames in the medium.
 

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The queen cells were capped. That's the first time I've actually cut queens cells out of any of my hive, and it hurt to do so; but since the new queen was in there, I wanted to give her a chance. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who would do that.

I guess my fear with the feed is that the bees will keep cramming any available space in the drawn frames they have with feed, rather than draw any new foundation out (... and swarm?). But I do want this nuc to grow a bit before going into winter. Should I be pulling some of those filled deep frames, and trading them with less-full frames from another hive? Or should I "force" them to use the foundation that's in there?

Thanks, Dan
 

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I would leave the bees be for a couple of weeks and then check on them. I doubt they will swarm with out any available nectar outside of what you are feeding them. Once the new queen establishes a brood nest they will consume the feed fairly quickly. How much capped brood remains in the nuc? If there is alot of capped brood then once they emerge I would bet they will start to draw out those frames. If there is no capped brood then you may be waiting about a month until they start drawing those frames out. I think patience may be the most important thing here.
 

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Thanks Yuleluder,
I would estimate that there are 3 deep frames with at least 1/3 capped brood each. Hopefully they'll be emerging very soon (maybe right now) to open up some more cell space in those frames, and start working that foundation! Btw, I've just got a couple of inverted quart-jars on top for feeders. I'm planning on filling those frequently.

-Dan
 
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