Beekeepers Friend

Peaches' Beekeeping Blog

March 1, 2013

Swarms, Splits, And Absconds (2nd installment)

Splits are artificial swarms. You are making the bees think that they swarmed already. Actually, you are causing the congestion to disappear and makes the bees to have to develop another queen.  By splitting, you cause the bees to swarm at your convenience and not lose any of them. You save the bees and grow you apiary at the same time. Nice huh?

There are several ways to split your colony of bees:

  1. Remove several frames of capped and uncapped brood
  2. Double up on brood boxes
  3. Make splits into nuc boxes
1. By removing two or three brood frames, and replacing with frames of foundation or drawn comb, you give the bees more room to lay eggs or to store pollen and nectar. This helps relieve the feeling of congestion. At this point, you could add a honey super and as you do, take a frame of honey and place in the new honey super and score the top of the honey to let it drip down into the box below. The bees will follow the honey to see where the leak is to repair it and that is when they will find the new room that was added and call other bees up to either repair the drawn comb or to draw out the new foundation.
2. Another way to split is to add another brood box to the top of the original b. box. Like the honey super above, pull one of the brood frames up into the second box so the bees will find the unattended and recruit more bees up to cover the brood and tell the queen that she has a new story in which to lay eggs. When the brood box is full of brood, then you can separate the two brood boxes and the one without the queen will start making a new queen.
3. I like to make splits in nuc boxes for several reasons.  I can make more queens in two or three – 4 or 5 frame frame nucs than in one 10 frame hive. When I have bees in nuc boxes, I can double stack or even triple or quadruple my boxes and when there is brood in all the boxes, I can separate them and they will start making queen cells for each of the separations.
Now here is a tidbit of information. You can take one or two frames from two or more established colonies and put into one new nuc box to make another starter colony or you can do the same with a full 10 frame brood box. Just remember to put a frame of honey and a frame of pollen in the new box along with the frames of brood. This gives the bees food to start with.
The only bees that object to other bees entering the hive is the worker and guard bees. When you mix frames of brood and the bees on the frames,  you are actually mixing nurse bees. They don’t fight. When field bees (workers) try to enter the hive, they have either or both nectar or pollen. They are bringing food in. If they don’t have food, and they are from a different hive, then they are considered robbers and are rejected.
In order to get some workers in the split, or weak hive, Place the split or weak hive in the place of a strong hive and the field worker bees will be bringing food in and are accepted. In the case of the split, most of the bees are nurse bees and they would accept any bees with food or not. That is a moot point anyway, just an explanation.
‘Nother tidbit: I like to keep a nuc for every five ten frame hives so I will have an extra queen in case of losing one, or I will have extra frames of brood in case I have a colony that needs strengthening.
This is the end of this section. To Bee Continued.

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