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Splits -- a "how to" question, kinda


#1

So my 8-frame hive is bursting at the seems with bees. It is wondrous to behold, especially at the daily “happy hour” when they seem to be flying all over the place, and orientation flights are happening en masse.

I was considering adding a second brood box as we approach the “winter” season here in the Houston/Galveston area. (Winter=temp in the 50s and 60s. We didn’t even have a real freeze last year.) BUT: I also want to create a second hive either this or next year.

So, with that in mind, I’m wondering what I should do? 1) Add the second brood box and let the ladies do their thing, or 2) Split the hive and make the second hive happen this year.

To my (limited) understanding, the way to do a split is fairly easy:

  • Take a queen less frame of eggs/young larvae out of the existing (old) hive and put it in a new hive.
  • Make sure there is something to feed the bees while they do their thing to make a queen.

Any thoughts? Am I crazy for wanting to split at this time of year? Is my understanding of how to perform a split in a warm climate essentially correct?

Thanx…

-M


#2

This would be my choice, as I would rather have one strong hive heading into winter, as opposed to two weaker hives. One strong hive is much more likely to survive varroa, pests, robbing, cold weather etc. You can then split in early spring with much less risk than doing so now.

I am sure others will have different ideas, but that is my 2 cents’ worth. :blush:


#3

I am with @Dawn_SD on this one. Add the second brood box. This way you could have some frames with comb to use to split in the spring. If you have a frame with some honey on it, another frame with pollen and nectar, and then the frame with brood on it you should be able to do a successful split. I also put a frame feeder with 1:1 sugar water in with my split. It worked well and I have put the second brood box on that split.

If you don’t have a decent nectar flow in the fall before winter the split may not have the resources to build themselves up to make it through the winter. You may want to ask some other local beekeepers for their advice…

John


#4

I was in your position last year and chose to add a second brood box with the intention of splitting the 2 brood boxes in a “walk away split” this spring.


#5

May I ask what is a "walk away split’?


#6

The ole “three beeks and three ways of doing it”. I live in Adelaide south Australia and assume pretty much the same climate as you guys. I was in the same boat as you last "fall " and I did a walk a way split - now I have one strong hive (original) and an established hive coming into spring and therefore a head start to getting my second producing hive for the new season.
I understand my comments do not help with your plight, but either action should work.
PS. I work with an AGGIE and he tells me the bees are bigger, better and smarter in Texas!!
Good luck


#7

Search “walk away split” in the search box above right.


#8

This might help…an old post of @Valli’s Walk Away Split


#9

@Michael_Bush has an appropriately terse explanation of the process on his web site:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm#walkaway

A walk away split. You take a frame of eggs, two frames of emerging brood and two frames of pollen and honey and put them in a 5 frame nuc, shake in some extra nurse bees (making sure you don’t get the queen), put the lid on and walk away. Come back in four weeks and see if the queen is laying.


#10

I probably should update that. That was just an example of a walk away split. The essential thing that makes a walk away split is that you don’t give them a queen and you let them raise one. This frees you to split a hive with no concern about where the queen is, just make sure they both have the means to make one.


#11

Don, “the Fat Bee Man”, asserts that all you need is “a frame of brood [with eggs] and a cup of bees” to make a split. Sounds a little minimalistic to me, but he has a large following and seems to do it quite a lot.


#12

I set up two frame (medium frames) nucs all the time. I have over a hundred right now…


#13

I do 2 and three frame splits, both deep and medium: It’s how I make my increases many times. I’ll do a bunch in the next week or so, feed them so they draw comb and can rear nice queens, and let them over-winter. Next Spring, they’ll be a nice box of bees. Of course I have 50 or so hives so I can take chances and “play” a bit. “If you want to win big you have to play big.” lol