Walk Away Split

Well I have a confession to make… I needed the new hive ready for spring to put in my overwintered new Queen Azure, Hive Number 5 or the Flow when it arrives. which will be Numbers 1 & 2 - Not to be confused with NUC’s 1 & 2.


On Sunday I took 3 frames of brood from Emerald and 2 from Sapphire and put them into the National Nuc. Today after being locked up for 3 days I did an inspection… I have a viable emergency Queen Cell and a couple of Queen cups also possibly viable.

If the split didn’t work I was going to reunite the frames to their original hives. I figure with the nectar and pollen they are pulling in, I have 2 weeks to grow a queen and another 2 to get her laying before closing down for winter.

I will do a hive inspection 20th August - queen should have hatched, mated and started laying by then… Fingers Crossed.

If there are no eggs being laid by 1st September, they will go back to the original hives.

A walk away split can be made without having a queen and just eggs or larvae no older than 3 days old.

I took frames of new brood from both Emerald (3 frames) and Sapphire (2 frames) on Sunday with both capped and uncapped brood, and enough nurse and worker bees to look after the brood and some drone cells on some of Emerald’s brace comb.

Drones fly only during favourable weather conditions, when air temperature is higher than 19°C and not more than 38°C generally between 2pm- 4:30pm [1]

Drones are Viable to mate after 2 weeks old (38 days from egg). Hence the need to put in some drone comb; the drones will be ready to fly when Virgin Azure is ready to mate.

All the frames had pollen, some capped honey, nectar and a top feeder just in case.

Close up the NUC entrance and walked away.

Today I have lots of bees, drones, capped brood and plenty of stores. And best of all a couple of Queen cells and cups.

There should be a new queen in about 2 weeks Sunday (2nd August) a week to 10 days for Azure to mate and I will check the hive 20th August and hopefully we will have a laying mated Queen Azure F3 - her queen cell is on Emeralds frames.

[1] http://honeybee.drawwing.org/book/drone-flights

There appears to be perilously far too few bees to cover the brood in this hive.
At this time of year you risk your new mated queen being unable to lay enough bees to make up for the aging bees in the split.
Remember your queen’s laying rates are tailing off so your donor hives risk not being able to make enough winter bees to come healthily through the winter.
If you are desperate for another hive I would have taken a frame of brood from each hive and bought a new laying queen or hunt around for a swarm from your local association. There are still plenty around and swarms are programmed into overdrive to survive as opposed to a queen-less demoralised made up colony.
I’m not being judgemental, Valli just trying to help you through what I think may be a bad decision.


@dangerous worse comes to worse I will unite the bees with Sapphire - Emerald is going great guns and laying in loads of honey.


Another issue & also not to be judgmental is brood needs a good covering of bees to keep it at the desired temperature. Also in shb areas, the brood needs a good covering of bees to protect it from shb damage.

SHB is something we haven’t yet had to cope with here in the UK Jeff. That is an interesting point to remember when it does arrive.
In general it is important to have as many nurse bees as possible in a split. The queen cells need to be fed copious amounts of jelly. Most people will put the split above a Queen excluder over the main colony…as maximum nurse bees to look after the queen cells. The nutrition levels are important. There are many ways of making a new colony…a walk away split is one way…
I favour using double brood colonies. Separate the brood boxes for 24 hours…queen cells are started. The brood boxes are rejoined with a queen excluder and supers between them…ie brood box/ queen excluder/super/super/brood box. As soon as queen cells are sealed…splits are made…or the queen cells can be put in an incubator until emergence. This way…the main colony feeds the queen cells and the splits are fresh…each with a queen cell due to emerge.

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Before shb, my main concern was keeping the brood warm. I only do walk away splits. This forum was the first time I ever heard that term. I do them to try to stop the strong hives from preparing to swarm. Sometimes I’ll make a huge hive (3 supers high) by taking 3-5 frames of brood with bees minus the queens from several hives & mix them up so they don’t fight, keep them on the same site & let them make their own queen. The trick in stopping or slowing the strong hives down from swarming is removing mostly sealed brood.

Are your bees swarmy? Were they from swarm stock? Mine seem ok. I originally got mine from a big beekeeper …the queen would have been raised as in my last post. I wonder if it makes a difference. One thing I read about was maturing of colonies. About all the criterior that needs to be in place before they swarm. Survival being so important to the swarm and the colony it leaves behind. Of course I never heard of a bees which reads the rules or books!

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I try to stop them from swarming because of nearby houses. It doesn’t always work. I use the bee space in my lids as a guide, if it’s full of bees doing nothing, that’s when I take drastic measures like removing 5 frames of brood with bees to start new colonies. If I see a lid full of bees building comb, I don’t worry so much. Another giveaway is drone larvae between the queen excluder & the tops of the frames in the brood. To answer your question, yes, they probably are swarmy. However you couldn’t blame them for wanting to swarm if the conditions are perfect for it. I had a few hives die out before winter, so I want to replace them plus the orders are coming in for bee colonies. A bloke asked me if I could supply 10 today. I told him I could but over a period of time. I think he bought 10 flow hives, just kidding. I’ll ttyl, bye

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Yes I have heard of that Jeff…also when you see them just inside the front wall…stationary and all looking up…that is also a sign of preparation to swarm. You are probably more likely to see this in a long hive though as there is more space in front of the first frame.
Good point Stephen…I do forget about abbreviations…will try harder!

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Hello Dexter, I just want to thank you for your reply. I will keep that in mind about the text talk (social media abbreviations). I will do my best to leave them out. I will talk to you later, laughing out loud, smiley face. good bye for now.

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OK I’ve been worried about number of bees in Sapphire and the Split after comments. I do listen and take stuff on board. I suppose my biggest problem is I’m not sure what a “good Number” of bees should look like. The bees at the Solihull Apiary are on smaller national frames and always look crowded - but then they have been known to swarm so as a newBee I need to learn what is a nice number of bees for my hives. Thanks for the Experienced input.

Emerald is laying really well so shook one frame of bees into both Sapphire and the Split NUC. Sapphire is laying well but has not caught up to Emerald yet - HHH she really is a star!

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I don’t have any sign of Verroa at all. I do my trays weekly or fortnightly - all clear just a few bee parts, pollen, occasional ant or earwig, small bits of wax. At present the 2 hives are cousins more or less.

I understand what you are saying about smell - I have seen plenty of videos where they fill up a hive by shaking a few in - thought it would be OK

Hi Valli…when a split is made…you can take bees from several colonies and mix them…it seems that with lots of different smells…they don’t usually fight. Shaking bees in at a later date can result in losing bees but not always. If the split is made from just one colony…they will accept extra bees from that colony…as Stephen says …to avoid losing bees due to fighting…adding extra brood frames …full of capped brood…is the best way…minus the bees. Whatever you do…don’t risk the viability of your 2 main colonies…by supporting the Nuc. In preparation for winter they will each need about 40lbs of stores…if they don’t have enough bees to find that for themselves…you can feed during September. A larger number of bees during the winter huddle gives them more chance of surviving. Do you remember seeing inside the big hive near the pond? That is how many bees you need. Covering all the frames so you just can’t see the brood.
When you attend your BBKA meetings you could ask a mentor to come look at your bees…a second pair of eyes will help with your worries about numbers and viability.

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I don’t actually have a “mentor” apart from you guys I have not found anyone I feel I can talk to like that. They are still a bit stand-offish. Mainly the newBees and wannaBees talk, I don’t think they always like me asking loads of questions - I can talk a bit :wink: bit of an Aussie trait.

I don’t think they are comfortable with me yet. There is a bloke new to the area who chatted with me last week about my camera - he seems nice but not sure how much experience he has. It is a strange line to walk.

I was hoping someone would offer to mentor?

We are happy to help Valli…don’t feel you are on your own. Try to ask about what you are thinking of doing…before you do it. It give us all a chance to discuss and for you to formulate a plan.
The wasps robbed out my weak nuc…I was expecting it…moral being…don’t go on holiday when wasps are about.
I have put feeders on 2 nucs today…between rain bursts! I don’t know for sure how they are doing as the weather prevents inspection. Also one of them has a new queen which I am waiting for her to start laying…well she might be by now. Can’t take the chance on them not having stores.
I also intend feeding the 2 recently hived nucs…made at the same time as yours. They had stores a week ago…but now they must be running low.
My bigger colonies all have good stores…so not feeding them.
The rule of thumb when inspecting…is…will they have enough stores until the next inspection. Since I don’t know when the weather will be ok for an inspection…better to feed.

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Yes I have seen one or 2 wasps lurking - But Emeralds crew were giving them a seeing off - Anything I should do when there are wasps - I looked at some wasp traps before the garden centre close but I was not sure if they were bee friendly,

As it is the type of attractant you use for wasps…bees are safe. You can make them with a 2 litre coke bottle…plastic which you can cut…check it out on Google. People mix kiticat food with water…or use fruit juice mixed with beer and vinegar. Bees don’t go for it. An expert on wasps tells us to put the traps downwind of the bees…the idea being that they get to the enticing smell before they smell the hives. I have a Waspbane…you can find them on Internet. Wasp traps which don’t allow the wasps to escape are best as they kill the scouts…so the main wasp nest doesn’t get to know about the bees. Putting wasp guard entrances on the hive helps…or just a very small entrance which they can defend. Only enough for two bees at a time…so very small especially for a nuc. The best defence is strong colonies which can defend their hive. Don’t spill any honey or syrup near the hives. If you are feeding bees…give feed inside hive…not entrance feeders. Wear marigolds so you can pinch the abdomens of the wasps whilst they have their heads in the comb…during an inspection.
All my hives have small entrances now. If you start to have a problem…lean a sheet of glass in front of the hive entrance…it confuses the wasps but the bees can negotiate it.

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Some of those coke bottle wasp thingies - it said the bees don’t like vinegar - so pop or jam or cordial with vinegar