Plans for 2018 -- seeking a little input

I have previously written about how I started my hive somewhat late in the season from a stressed nuc. That hive prospered in an 8-frame deep, which eventually grew to two 8-frame deep brood boxes. I never intended to harvest from this hive in 2017, only to let its population increase.

My plan for 2018 is where I’d like a little input: Once the nectar flow starts here in the Houston/Galveston region of Texas next year, I plan to split my hive. I’ve got a couple plans, one of which is aggressive, the other is conservative.

#1 — Conservative. I’m just going to separate the 2 8-frame boxes in a ‘walk-away split’. Later in the season, I might split off these boxes again.

#2 — Aggressive. Take 4 frames from EACH box and make (effectively) 4 nucs, in order to make a total of 4 hives (effectively a split both boxes) — one of which will have a queen. The other three will need to let nature take its course in making a queen.

I’m not against selling a nuc or two, either…

My goal isn’t necessarily to have 4 dozen hives — I think I want a total of 6 or so for now. At the moment, I just have one with 2 8-frame deep boxes.

I’m also going to be helping out my church’s apiary as it is in really poor repair and could be MUCH better than it currently is. They may be getting one of the splits to help them out a bit.

So what do you think?

This is good
Don’t wait for them to make queens though
Buy three


Why buy queens? It only takes 3 weeks to make/mate one…

Hi Michael, I like your aggressive plan. With aggressive plans like that you’ll end up with a lot of hives. You may even get a feed of honey in the mean time. Doing splits like that is just like a snow ball.

I did a donation split last week. I think it was more of a barter for a comprehensive lesson. Anyway that was 7 days ago, I took 4 frames of brood, bees, minus the queen.
I checked them this morning, two frames had multiple queen cells on them. I left one with the split. I removed the other one with bees, then combined them with 3 frames containing bees from 3 different colonies into a different brood box, them brought them home. Far enough away so that no bees will return. It just doubles my chances of getting a good queen.

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Houston area: Don’t you have Africanized drones for your new queens to mate with in those parts?

That’s 3 weeks minimum before the queen starts to lay if it makes it back from its flights, opposed from laying almost straight away with an almost guaranteed good stock. Especially coming into winter.
Mind you, over here, it’d be quite pricey, not sure about the cost over there.

Going with similar stock, about $40 each.

That’s Au$52.00…

In an AHB area??? Brave man. I have tried it (unintentionally), didn’t like the result. Buying queens from now on. :blush:

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Buying Queens is much cheaper than buying NUC’s. You could always buy one or two queens and then try to let them grow their own with the third. I did two splits this past summer. Both I pulled frames with eggs in them and then put them in nuc boxes with some resources. Both produced their own queens. The one hive did great and turned into two deep 8 frames boxes. The other decided to swarm before she started laying.


Hi John…thanks for this post…I’m just trying to understand your scenario there…
With the swarm, I’m guessing they made multiple queen cells and the virgin queen took off leaving another virgin queen behind that didn’t make it to laying?

Hi Dan, it could be a case of abscond rather than swarm. Sometimes the colonies mind decides to abscond & find a different hollow somewhere, rather that stay put. Especially if most of the brood has emerged. If most of the brood has emerged, there’s basically nothing to hold them there. It’s hard for us to work out why they do it. But it happens.


Hi Jeff
Thanks Jeff, So in such a case I assume there would be virtually no bees remaining in the hive as opposed to a swarm where you would notice a halving (or thereabouts) of numbers?

Yes that would be correct. It’s fresh on my mind, because it recently happened to me. As much as I try to avoid swarms/absconding out of my back yard, it happens. I think the trick is to keep them on fresh young brood to hold them.

It was only a small colony with a young queen. All they left was three empty frames.

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The queen had hatched but was not laying yet. So when she and the other bees had left there were no bees left in the hive.

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That was exactly what happened to mine. All the brood had hatched & were able to fly, so I guess it was the perfect time for them to make the break while they had no young’ns to care for.

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