I know there are lots of split methods. We are brand new beekeepers so it’s pretty confusing. We purchased a very healthy double deep hive and moved it to our location about 12 days ago. Today we opened it and it was VERY full.
In the top box we identified everything we thought we wanted to see to do the split: (1) lots of drones walking around (2) lots of capped drone cells (3) plenty of capped brood cells (4) about 12 queen cups in various locations toward the bottom half of the frame, (5) one queen cup with a larvae in it that was not capped (6) cells that appeared to have a cloudy jelly in them, but we weren’t sure what eggs looked like so we don’t really know if they were eggs, (7) various cells with larvae in them at various stages, and (8) about three frames worth of honey. We did not see the queen in the top box and inspected every frame.
Because we thought these were signs that a swarm was imminent, we separated the two boxes into two different hives, placing the top box in a new location nearby, hoping that they would make their own new queen based on the evidence of the queen cup with the larvae that we saw there.
Because we are about to hit a major nectar flow here (blackberries) we added a deep with ten frames on top of each of the hives, both new and old, with pollen, honey and empty honeycomb in them, so they’d have plenty of resources and plenty of work to do to encourage them to stay. We also placed branches outside of both entrances. We did this in the middle of a sunny day, so I suspect the foraging bees will return to the original hive and their populations will not be even. However, the newly split hive had a lot of capped brood and every frame was COVERED with bees.
Our big question is, if that queen cup we think we saw with a larvae in it was a “swarm cell,” will the top box that we split to form a new hive swarm anyway? Or did we effectively create an artificial split? Could the old box still swarm?