The casual splitting method

Discussion in 'Raising Queens' started by Omie, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I just thought I'd add a new thread on making new queens using the 'lazy/casual' way by making splits and giving queen cells or frames with eggs to new splits to make their own queens with.

    As a relative beginner, I have been having a huge amount of fun and am learning so much by doing this. It works very well for people with just a few hives and no aspirations to sell queens or bees, or to have a whole lot of hives.

    Of my two hives last year, only one survived our long northern winter. By making splits and then keeping an eye on the outcome and providing more frames of eggs if needed, I have been able to turn that one hive into four now, and have the satisfaction of knowing my new queens are young and vigorous and have the local genetics that may help my new hives make it through the winters here. Plus, as someone who can only have a handful of hives, I don't want to have to keep buying new bees every Spring- I want to try to raise and replace my own bees in a self-sustainable way.

    I think that learning how to make splits and helping those splits raise new local queens is something beginners should consider trying by their second year of beekeeping. It's so awesome in so many ways!
     
  2. LtlWilli

    LtlWilli New Member

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    You make it sound so good, Omie, I'm tempted to do just that. I have two big, very vigorous hives ,and I know they have plenty insidet o support a split---Just wish I had a mentor here for the first time at bat. The last thing I want is a major foulup with the ladies. That always gets me in deep water before I know it... :eek:
     

  3. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Omie,
    For many years when I had no money to buy queens, and had empty hives and nucs to fill in the Spring, in SC, I would make all of my splits and nucs by making sure there were eggs and young larvae, honey and pollen and plenty of bees in every box, so thery would more often than not raise a queen from the young brood they had.

    I had one yard w/ 80 nucs which had a better than 90% success rate. Sometimes one hardly gets that w/ queens or cells.

    I'm glad you are enjoying your bees and learning too.
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I applaude you self sufficiency and I think there is some logic to the 'adapted to the local environment' rational of your thinking. I would however suggest that most folks that preach the 'local adaptation' line actually have little real understanding as to the time line that is required in the natural world to get to some local adaptation <ie nice sound bite but may require more time and resources than some folks think or believe. secondly I would suggest although it may be thrifty to rear your own stock that fairly quickly you will need to 'diversify' your gene pool or suffer the consequence of not doing so. when that time does come.... reasonable choosing stock that will compliment you own 'locally adapted' stock is really the critical decision.
     
  5. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Or, just buy live Queens and be satisfied.
     
  6. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Good points! Yes I agree it would be wise to bring in an outside queen once in a while to diversify the gene pool around me. I've already diversified the gene pool here by introducing my drones from FatBeeman in Georgia. But if I do buy queens to add diversity later on, I think I'd choose a northern queen rather than one shipped up from the south. I'll probably buy a queen or two a couple years from now from Sam Comfort who lives an hour from me. :)
    But considering my area is full of both feral hives and small hobby BK's who I know are getting bees from all kinds of places (the ones I know of are currently getting bees from Betterbee/Georgia, Pennsylvania, and at least 3 other BKs 15-20 miles from me, plus some feral swarms), I'd guess there won't be any big problem with inbreeding for at least a couple of years.
    Here we are not surrounded by huge apiaries or monoculture crops- there are many small farms and small BK operations and hobbiests- pretty diverse. Rulison Farms and Lloyd Spears are the biggest I know of in the area.
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Omie, I think a detailed description of your method would be quite useful here, if you would be so kind. I'm sure many visitors would greatly appreciate it.
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    sounds like Omie you have plenty of genetic diversity, so for you I would say 'that problem' is minimal. my personal bias is that a bee that works well for myself here in the south will likely not be the best bee for some one in the north. I love my 'italian' type bees but if I lived in northern New York or Minnesota italians would not be my first choice. at this time I think New World Carnolian would be my choice if I lived at that end of the line.

    for myself I am quite glad that here and making some small attempt at rearing 'treatment less bees' I am quite happy for a limited amount of genetic diversity.
     
  9. tommyt

    tommyt New Member

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    Great Thread I agree Please detail your Queen rearing and splitting
    for all too Learn


    Thanks
    Tommyt
     
  10. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Well I am just a new beekeeper- in my third year, and this is my first year making splits- so I don't qualify to be teaching anyone! But I can describe what I've been doing, in case other beginners want to try it. I am just a beginner stumbling along, and I may not have done everything the best or smartest way....but it seems to be working out ok. Any experienced BK knows more than I do!
    That said,....

    I had one hive survive the winter and seemed to be ok- healthy, but not booming this Spring. It had two 10 frame deeps, which I reversed in early Spring and I saw there was brood slowly being raised. It was a long cold rainy Spring- not conditions for any hive to build up fast.
    I had 20 frames with drawn comb and some honey in reserve from my one winter deadout hive- this was really a big help with everything that followed.

    1) I waited until I felt there was a little boost in population, and made a split on the 5th of May- Cinco de Mayo. I 'should have waited til the hive was booming....but I didn't! lol!

    For the split, it wasn't 1/2 & 1/2 at all- from the 20 frame hive, I took the queen and three good frames of brood and nurse bees, and put them in the top deep box with 6 frames of mostly empty drawn comb for her to lay in, some capped honey, and a frame feeder with syrup. I set that box up as a new single deep hive 4 feet to the side of the bottom deep. I lay some little twigs across the entrance to remind them they were in a new location and had better look around before they just take off flying. I fed that new 'old queen' hive syrup for about 2 weeks since they didn't have many foragers.

    I left the bottom 10 frame deep in it's original location with 2/3 of the bees and brood and I knew all the foragers would go back to it, which was good since it was now queenless and would be without new brood for a while until they raised a new queen. They had plenty of honey, some of which I scraped open a little to encourage them to feed on it. I also made sure they had a frame with new eggs and brood from the queen. I didn't feed them syrup since they had plenty of foragers and honey.
    I took that frame of eggs and young larvae before I closed up that hive and i gently cut down the bottom wall of about a dozen cells with either eggs or new hatched larvae floating in jelly- tiny 'C' shapes not yet curled closed. I was trying out the 'On the Spot' queen raising technique I had read about- encouraging them to make queen cells out of all the cut cells. I would check back in about 4 or 5 days to see how many QCs they had made. I had 5 little 5-frame nucs hives all ready in case I wound up with multiple queen cells. I had high hopes!

    Meanwhile, I left the other box with the old queen to get established and i kept feeding them syrup for a couple of weeks.

    More about what happened later...
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    the drums roll and everyone set on the edge of their seats in anticipation.

    ps... I am especially curious to find out how the 'on the spot' queen rearing technique works for ya'.

    the black cat goes back to lurking...
     
  12. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    So, 4 days after making that split in step 1), I checked for queen cells from the OnTheSpot frame I cut cell walls in.
    To my surprise and disappointment, there was only ONE queen cell in that whole spilt hive, but it was on the frame and in the areas I had made cuts to. Here's a picture:
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1tPkd9RnUqo/T ... rame-1.jpg
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-icx85G5TmZg/T ... side-1.jpg
    They had a queen larvae going in it. Five days after the split, that queen cell was capped and no others were started.
    I decided I would steal that QC and make another nuc with it, and let the queenless hive make one more replacement for itself.

    So since I knew what day the cell was capped, i calculated which day the virgin queen would hatch. I left them alone during the fragile stage of her development, then 48 hours before she would emerge...

    2) I carefully removed the frame with the QC and other brood and nurse bees, and two other frames of brood and nurse bees from different hives, and made another nuc. I put it only about 30 feet away, and again placed twigs at the entrance to remind them to notice their new location. I put a nuc top feeder on with syrup for a couple of weeks to help them ride out the lack of foragers. Also gave them a frame of honey with the cappings scratched open.

    Meanwhile, I took a frame of fresh eggs and new larvae from the Old Queen, brushed the bees of it and gave it to the queenless hive that I had just stolen the QC from. This time I would let them keep whatever queen they made. I didn't bother doing any cell wall cutting this time, since I wasn't trying to make up more new nucs. They only made one new queen cell that I saw, and I left it alone. Indeed, 3 weeks later I saw a nice virgin queen walking about in there, and after another week I saw eggs and new brood, and at that point I let them be. I put a second deep on them just yesterday.

    The stolen queen cell emerged in the new nuc and a mere 14 days later I found the beautiful new queen (who I named Calico) and new eggs being laid. Since then, she has been laying wall to wall and seems like a really wonderful new queen. I am now removing a frame of eggs and brood from her nuc every week or so and using them to produce new queens in two other hives that I want to replace the queens in (including the Old Queen, her mother, who isn't laying very rapidly anymore and appears to have a bum leg).
    Calico nuc not only is producing lots of good 'seed brood' for boosting other hives and making new queens with, but it's also producing new comb very nicely as well. I've taken out 3 frames of brood so far and replaced them with totally empty foundationless deep frames, and within a week those frames are full of new comb and eggs. Nice!

    When Fall comes, I'll have two full sized hives headed by daughters of Calico, one full size hive headed by a daughter of Old Queen (sister of Calico), and two nucs- one headed by Calico and the other by a daughter of Calico. All the 5 colonies will have queens from this year that have mated with local mixed drones, and we have quite a bit of genetic variety in my area.

    I plan to try to winter the two 5 frame nucs as an experiment. I'll put them both in one deep 10frame box with a plastic divider and separate entrances. I'll put a plywood/screen board combo on top of a strong full hive, and place the double nuc deep box on top of that to help the nucs stay warm, then the ventilated inner and outer hive covers on top over all. I'll have the 3 full double deep hives, so I think I can afford to experiment with overwintering the two nucs. With that setup, I figure the odds are in my favor of having at least two good surviving Spring colonies next Spring.
     
  13. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    :goodpost:

    Thank You
     
  14. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    an Omie snip..
    who I named Calico

    tecumseh:
    is the name related to her coloration? tiger striped?
     
  15. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I tend to like old fashioned names, and the names for my hives just sort of come to me after a while. That nuc queen just seemed to 'need' the name Calico after an old fiddle tune named Swing Nine Yards of Calico. The nuc next to it wanted to be called Lulu. My hive from last year is Aurora, after the sister of my Mexican friend. May Belle is my other large hive, named after musician MayBelle Carter of the Carter family. And my hive down the road is called Matilda of Flanders, after a long ago Queen of England.
     
  16. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Omie,
    RU going to the ESHPA Picnic in Cannandaigua,NY on July 23 at the VA Hospital? Tom Seeley is the guest speaker. I would love too meet you there.
     
  17. Barry Tolson

    Barry Tolson New Member

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    Omie...great account of you work! The second queen cell pic where we could see the larva was especially good!
     
  18. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Thanks Barry. :) I need to make the effort to take more photos, they usually come out pretty well.

    Sqkcrk- unfortunately I get too involved with trips and fests and camping having to do with music we play, also family trips, so a 235 mile drive each way to a bee meet is just not in the picture for me. :shock: I just got back from a big one day music festival followed by a trip to eastern Mass to visit my daughter. Summertime is like that! =8-\ I'm sure one day we will cross paths for some bee event or another. But I'm just a beginner beekeeper with 5 hives in my backyard, after all.

    I did some more 'playing God' manipulations this past weekend which I'll describe maybe tomorrow. (my poor bees! lol!) It must be the mad scientist genes I inherited from my physicist father. Not all my efforts work the first time, and I don't expect them to. I take Micshael Bush's excellent advice about giving a frame of eggs every week to a hi8ve if I'm unsure whether they've successfully raised a virgin queen. So far my worries have been unfounded and the queens were indeed raised nicely, just not laying yet for another week.

    The one thing that has amazed me is how a new queen like Calico in a 5 frame nuc can just churn out frames of brood one after another like clockwork and that nuc can draw foundationless comb about 3x quicker than the older/bigger hives. Maybe because they know they better get the comb drawn immediately due to total lack of other space for the young queen to lay. Maybe the lack of extra space makes them work really hard and have to be more efficient.

    A couple of my more 'chakra/biodynamic/natural' friends with bees try (unsuccessfully) to hide the fact that they are somewhat appalled when I talk about kidnapping queen cells and my plans to killed off certain queens etc. And yet we all do agree when it comes to being relatively treatment free (we all seem to feel ok with using herbs and essential plant oils, and feeding sugar syrup to new hives). But while they are totally into 'letting bees be bees' and the phases of the stars and the moon, Karma Feng Shui whatever... I've got my nose stuck in my hives and am moving frames around and making nucs and generally rocking my bees' world. But when all is said and done, I've quadrupled the single hive I started with this Spring, and my bees seem very healthy. :)
    I am sort of looking forward to seeing if my efforts and manipulations pay off this coming winter. [​IMG]
     
  19. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    that is a good pic of the royal worm!

    Great post and pics!!
     
  20. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Omie, you may have good intentions, but raising the bees up north won't change their genetics. That process is a lot more complicated and requires (among other things) a varied genetic pool and several generations of selection. Splitting your hives will give you more bees with little genetic variation. Of course, the queens, by mating with local "northern"drones, will add genetic variation to the next generation but to really get somewhere you need many generations and selection of the best hives (Those that winter well under the same conditions).

    For really good results, artificial insemination of selected queens with selected drones is the way to go.

    So long as you're in bees for the enjoyment, just enjoy the splitting for increase. You'd probably be a lot more realistic leaving the genetic advances to the researchers in the neighborhood.