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Made a split, how long until I should inspect?

Hi everyone! I just made my first split from my overwintered colony. The population was hefty with workers and drones, strong brood pattern, all stages of open and capped brood (worker and drone), nectar and pollen present, and a queen cup with a chonky larva inside to which the bees were tending.

I took a frame of brood with the current queen and put her in a new box, along with 2 1/2 other frames of brood, a frame of pollen/nectar, and 2 frames of honey. I put a bundle of grass at the entrance to allow the queen’s pheromone to build up inside the new hive. In the old hive, I left the queen larva, 3 frames of brood, nectar/pollen, and 2 frames of honey.

Now for the question! How long should I wait to do an inspection? I don’t want to disturb them so they can all settle in, but I want to make sure that the new queen hatches (my guess would be at LEAST 10 days from now as the queen cup was not capped), and that the old queen in the new hive is doing okay in there.

This is my first split, and I’m going into my third year of beekeeping. I’m excited, nervous, and hopeful that this will work :crossed_fingers:t2: Thank you!

For a Snelgrove split, the wait is 9 days. I think you are describing a “walk away” split, of which I think @JeffH has more experience than I do.

Meanwhile here is a nice article on splits - the Snelgrove is on page 24:



Thank you @Dawn_SD !! Your replies are always much appreciated. Thanks for the shortcut to the page in the article! I had no idea the method I used had a name, lol I read up a bunch last year on how to do splits and they all blended together, but this one seemed to make the most sense to me. Fairly straight forward, just had to keep track of what was going where. :relaxed:

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I check 3-5 days after I do a walkaway split to check the queen cell is capped and that there is no others being made if there is I knock them down and again every 3 days until the new queen is spotted.

With various stages of brood and possibly eggs the bees tend too create more due to being queenless. Just my own preference.

I like using a dummy board in a developing nuc until the queen has hatched and mated just for a little room to move frames around without damaging the QC or the newly hatched queen.

When I start seeing newly laid eggs I replace the dummy board with a frame and feed.

Not sure if you are single or double brood. If single I’d feed the other half with the original queen and check no more than 7 days after you split incase more cells are about to be capped.

Nothing worse than spliting and half of a reduced colony swarm.

Well done on your split sounds like you’ve got it in the bag :clap::clap:

Thank you for the reply! I’ve been reading more and second guessing myself more and more with each passing hour since yesterday :joy: but your response has settled my thoughts a bit, so thank you for that! They are a single deep right now, the mother colony had a super on top, and they’ve bit some comb up there… very strange pattern, but manageable. Anyway, haha I fed them both today… just popped the cover off and slid a pollen patty onto the top bars.

Ooo great idea to use a dummy board… i had one in there that I took out for some reason haha I might put it back in now though when I check on them this weekend… hopefully I can find some time to check sooner, but my 2 year old daughter has decided she doesn’t like naps lately so :woman_shrugging:t2: haha

Thanks again!

You might want to think of feeding syrup to help replace stores youvectobbed and yo encourage drawing out comb in the new frames.

Maybe remove the super until the brood has built back up.

Syrup in addition to the patties? I’m also wondering about how long before I can expect some activity at the entrance of the new hive with the old queen. There were a couple gannets at the entrance the day I did the split, and a few poking their heads out yesterday… haven’t seen anything today, but the other hive obviously has lots of foragers coming in and out. It’s still early in the day so I’ll look again later, but I’m thinking maybe 10 days or so before they have bees old enough to become foragers… is that about right?

Is it pollen pattie you’ve added Erin?

That will help stimulate brood laying but to help draw out comb and replace honey/nectar stores you need to feed Syrup unless you feel they have adequate reserves after your split?

You should be seeing activity from the entrance no matter what as foragers should be coming and going in suitable weather, guard bees marshaling the entrance, undertaker bees removing any unwanted dead etc…

Queen status won’t effect that much so early after your split.

They’re the ultra bee patties from Mann lake… 18% protein, so sounds like a pollen substitute but they’re sticky and smell sweet. Feeding wouldn’t hurt, as the plants have had a late start around here and the apple trees aren’t in bloom anymore, so I’ll give them some syrup. Thank you!

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I just gave the old queen a jar of syrup, they took to it immediately and were also eating the patty. A few of the bees that were on the inside of the outer cover kinda flew off and so they didn’t go back into the hive when I out the cover back on. Which is normally fine, but they couldn’t find their way back inside! They have no idea where the entrance is and there aren’t any fanners out front to show them the way. They seem to know the hive is there because they’re flying around it, but can’t find the entrance. I saw a few dead drones out front so the undertakers are doing their jobs.

UPDATE I just saw one fly in as I was writing this. Haha ugh I’m just nervous something happened to the queen… she’s a good one, super docile and a descendent of my first hive’s queen who was also so amazing. I get attached to these little things! :heart_eyes:

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Guess what, guys! The original colony that I made the split from… it swarmed!!! I came home from picking up my son from school and there was this cluster hanging out on the hive.

So apparently they thought my split was hilariously cute :joy: I started scooping bees into a new box, but they all just kept flyin away back to the original hive. I found the queen on the 5th scoop, put her in a clip, and placed her on top of the frames of the new hive and just watched for a few minutes. One or two straggler bees came to sit with her and fan, but no one else came, and the cluster was gone. So I shook 5 frames of bees from the mother colony into the new box with th a caged queen, and they took right to her and stayed with her. I did a quick inspection of the mother colony before doing this to make sure there wasn’t a queen in there, and there was not. I did find at least 7 swarm cells thiugh! Big, capped, ready to hatch any day now. So my attempt to prevent a swarm with that split a few weeks ago failed in that sense.

Now I’m wondering, how do you prevent a swarm???

Actually this isn’t that surprising. When you removed the queen the bees would have started making new queens within hours. As it is spring where you are the bees have produced a big crop of queens. What you could have done is gone back into the queenless hive 7 days or so after you made the split- and removed all but one or two of the queen cells. At that stage the bees would have no more eggs or larvae to make more queen cells- and so when their one queen hatched she would stay and not swarm. Some people remove all but one- some leave two in case one fails. If you leave two there is still a risk the hive will swarm- but if it does it will only be the once.

have you removed those queen cells? If not remove them leaving either one cell or one virgin queen. Otherwise your hive may well swarm again.

You did the right thing splitting- that is a good swarm prevention strategy- but it’s not infallible and you must always take care to remove excess queen cells in the queenless colony.

I did not remove the swarm cells, I feel like I wouldn’t know which ones were the best to keep and which were not so good. I figured the bees would make that decision.

When I made the original split in May 16th, the bees were only making one queen. On May 23rd, the queen cell they were working on was almost capped, and I found two more emergency cells in the middle of the comb, but no additional swarm cells. I was seeing pollen coming in at that point, and also capped brood. Yesterday June 1st when I opened it up I did not see a queen, but there was capped brood which I was surprised to see… so my guess, is that the new queen (from that one first swarm cell that prompted me to make the split) hatched, mated, and started laying really quickly. There’s no way there could still be capped brood from the original queen from May 16th (that was 16 days ago!), right?? So I think the first new queen hatched and started laying, and then the bees decided they still needed to swarm lol

They have a super on top which I didn’t really go through yesterday (should have, darn it!), and two or three of the frames in the brood chamber were so full of honey I could barely lift them out of the box… so maybe if I give them more room they won’t swarm again? I could take a frame of honey and give them an empty one to build out and fill again.

There could be, if there were eggs or uncapped larvae on the frames. For worker brood, you will see it for up to 21 days. :wink:

Ahh true I didn’t think about that part. There are so many things that can be overlooked, it’s hard to keep track of it all!! Thanks for your insight, Dawn!

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It’s still spring there? If so yes- you can remove excess honey from the brood box. If the outermost frames are all honey then go ahead and remove and replace with fresh foundation or drawn comb if you have it. The goal in spring to to try and get as much of the brood box full of brood as possible. the queen lays prodigiously- which is what you want. If the weather is nice and warm and the bees super active- you can even checkerboard empty frames into the middle of the brood box.

however: if you are not sure that you currently have a laying queen in there- maybe wait until you are. During that period when you have a virgin queen in the process of getting mated- it is best to leave the bees completely alone. The virgin queen is delicate and flighty and you don’t want to do anything to upset the bees at that time.

the great thing about bees is the strictness of the lifecycle timeline. When making splits you can use a calendar to closely track what the bees are/should be doing.

also at this stage if you have frames int he brood box that are almost all honey- but have some worker brood- you can put those frames upstairs above the QX and checkerboard fresh frames into the brood box (assuming you have regular frames upstairs that is). You can also do this with frames with drone brood- but you have to open the top of the hive periodically to let the drones out. otherwise they get trapped up their and die trying to squeeze through the QX.

Sadly I don’t have this issue anymore… a bear ransacked the swarm hive and the mother hive last night :sob::sob::sob: it ate the brood and honey. Not sure if there was any brood left as it was dark, but i don’t remember seeing any. I was mostly concerned with just putting things back together and getting the bees back in the box, hoping I might spot the queens as I scooped. The boxes and frames were not damaged, so I put the hive back together and scooped as many bees as possible into the boxes (it was 11pm, and we didn’t finish until 1am). So no more potential to swarm again, and no extra honey. I’m praying it doesn’t come back before we can put up the fence. I left the bees alone to get their bearings back today, and tomorrow I will go in to try and find the queens. Their activity from outside the hive today looked relatively normal, but they definitely did not let me get close to the hive like they usually do. I’m nervous to go in tomorrow, I hope they’re not too defensive towards me. They’re usually very calm but I’m expecting them to be angry. Anyone have any tricks for aggressive behavior? Special smoker fuel? I have lavender plants, does it have calming effects in bees like it does humans?

At this point, if I find one queen I will be so surprised and grateful, and I’m thinking I should recombine the colonies to help make up for lost population, depending on what things look like on the inside. If I don’t find any queens, and numbers are low, I will definitely combine but also definitely get a new queen ASAP. I’ve already asked a local beek if he has any and he DOES!! I’m praying they can recover from this. It’s all my fault :pensive:

dang- now that’'s one thing we don’t have to worry about here in Australia! :bear: :honey_pot:

sorry for your loss. Definitely consider combining them - but at least one queen may have survived they are quite hardy and run away from trouble.

as for angry bees- try to look in at midday in the warmest weather when the most foragers are out and there are less bees int he hive. Smoke the hive gently through the entrance a full 5 minutes before you open the hive (smoke makes the bees eat honey and once they are full of honey they become more placid and cannot use their stingers as easily)- and gently smoke in the top when you do open it. Suit up really well- with thick layers underneath. Move slowly- especially when pulling frames up and out. Bees cannot see slow movements. Don’t panic- have a plan and stick to it. make sure you have everything you might need ready before you start and that your smoker is well lit and well packed.

if the bees are very angry- as long as you are well suited up they shouldn’t be able to get at you- so just keep calm and carry on!

By the sounds some comb must be damaged so maybe get some new combs ready to replace them.

take care your smoker is not blowing hot smoke- that actually aggravates the bees. It must be well packed and lit at the bottom. The smoke coming out should feel cool on your hand- not hot.

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Thank you… it was such a somber sight to see their home scattered about and bees in random clumps on the ground :cry: but, I’m trying to move forward and not dwell on what happened, which is hard for me! I was able to replace some of the really damaged comb with new foundation frames. I will definitely have more at the ready when I go in tomorrow in case I missed anything.

I’m going to lose about 10 lbs in water weight during this inspection tomorrow. Haha it’s supposed to be HOT! and I have a full suit, and I do plan to wear more substantial layers underneath. I might tape the zippers too… one got inside my veil last night and stung me in the neck! I don’t usually react much, just a quick owie and then moving on but I had to stop when that happened. Ooof, that one hurt! It’s still sore today!!

yeah- when bees are really angry they will find their way into the smallest hole in a suit- and there is nothing worse that trying to work when there are bees inside your veil. so if possible have someone check you over before you get to it to make sure it’s all bee proof. Hopefully after two days your bees will have calmed down a bit. I find the best thing to do with beekeeping disasters is to learn the lesson but try and forget what happened. Just get back on the horse and move forward. Bees are pretty resilient and will work hard to get back up to speed. being spring they can build back very fast assuming they have a queen.

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