When should I split a hive?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by ASTMedic, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    So going I'm going into year two and I'm thinking that having a second hive to work with if needed would be a good idea just in case.

    I've been reading everything I can find on splitting but wondered when would be the best time to do it? Weather is looking good here in NorCal now and things are blooming. Brood rearing is going strong in my over wintered hive right now so my gut says now is the time.

    Any reason I can't just put one box on one bottom board and another on the other and walk away?

    Will I be sacrificing honey production a lot by doing this? I'm just looking for enough honey for my family at this point.

    Do I need to wait till drones are flying? I have capped drone cells now.
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip followed > by my comment....
    I've been reading everything I can find on splitting but wondered when would be the best time to do it? Weather is looking good here in NorCal now and things are blooming. Brood rearing is going strong in my over wintered hive right now so my gut says now is the time. > if you want the queenless portion of the split to generate a queen then the primary swarm season and the primary spring time nectar flow is the proper time to accomplish this. ps.... I would like to encourage you as something of a new beekeeper to not do this but to purchase a mated queen... you are surrounded by all kinds of queen breeder and beyond getting to know at least one or two of these you can add some genetic diversity to whatever hives you currently operate.

    Any reason I can't just put one box on one bottom board and another on the other and walk away? > you can of course but my own experience would suggest that you have better odd at playing roulette at the local Indian betting parlor.

    Will I be sacrificing honey production a lot by doing this? I'm just looking for enough honey for my family at this point. > you cannot have your cake and eat it too... with a purchased queen and a smaller split you can lessen the impact on this season honey crop.

    Do I need to wait till drones are flying? I have capped drone cells now. > if you are rearing a few queens I think Dr Larry Conner's take is that you can wait until not emerged pupae drones are in the 'purple eye' stage and then graft and by the time the queen cells hatch and the virgin matures that drone will also have sexually matured. for queen rearing stuff I generally wait until I see some good number of drones in my hives.... I am just way to old to get that impatient.
     

  3. DMLinton

    DMLinton New Member

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    I agree with everything that tecumseh has advised and would offer a reminder that splitting a second year hive is most often not optional. If you do not split, the bees are highly likely to take care of it themselves .... with the down sides that you still have only one colony that may be starting around the same point as you started last year and, if you are fortunate, you will have no queens in your apiary for only a short period. If you are less fortunate and the remaining bees fail to produce a viable queen, the colony could die out before you can get things back under control.
     
  4. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    So you're saying they will swarm as a second year hive?

    Year one was a nuc that superceded the queen that came in the nuc about mid May. So this queen isn't even a year old yet. Does that change the chances of a swarm?
     
  5. DMLinton

    DMLinton New Member

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    No, I'm not saying that they will swarm but, rather, that there is a likelihood of it happening with a second year hive or, more specifically, a queen in her second season. Splitting is a swarm prevention strategy as well as a method of making increases. In splitting, the beekeeper is effectively simulating a swarm so that the elder queen feels that she has that out of her system and she will get back to the task at hand. Your queen is in her second season.

    As tecumseh has advised, where splitting in a one hive apiary, it is highly, highly recommended to obtain a mated and proven queen to put in the queenless portion of the split. It is very effective risk management.

    Edit: Just to clarify on another part of your original question about just putting down a new bottom board, putting one box on the new bottom board, leaving the other box as is and walking away is, in the field, almost what you would actually do. The difference is that before doing any of it, you order a your new queen and have her on hand, or guaranteed to become available either "tomorrow" or the next day. You then do your split as you described including the walking away part. Tomorrow, or possibly the next day you return with your new queen, figure out which box the old queen is in and then introduce your new queen to the queenless box. What, exactly, you do after that depends on the particular introduction method you use but should include at least one well timed visit to ensure that the queen has been released or is manually released and, perhaps, a later visit to ensure that she is getting things done.
     
  6. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    Got it, thanks. I've got a good queen source http://www.strachanbees.com/ that I can actually go and pick the queen up. So timing is the one thing (if not the only) I can control.
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    that looks like a good source and at least my own but very limited experience with Carnis is they are a pretty good bee with some excellent characteristics < I got to meet Sue Colbey who pretty much rediscovered the Carnis and I will get to see her again in a month or so and learn just a little about II.