Who Said The Splits Hurt?

So much splitting going on here. I’m not talking about firewood and definitely not referring to my fantastic relationship with Sara. Nor, am I attempting crotch-ripping cheerleader moves out in the yard. What I AM talking about is- my beeloved bees.

They say you shouldn’t split a first-year hive. When you split a hive, you are basically creating an artificial swarm. You take the queen, and some of the bees and frames in a separate box(called a “nuc”) and move them to a different location. This prevents you from having to capture your bees off of a tree branch like I did a couple weeks ago. The bees that remain will raise a new queen, and one colony becomes two.  (In case you were wondering, the swarm bees are still in the 6-frame nuc box I put them in a couple Sundays ago. I plan to inspect them in the next few days and will keep you posted.)

So, while I was inspecting my ladies on Monday I noticed signs that they were thinking of swarming. Some signs include- excessive drone comb along the bottoms of the frames (especially the corners) and queen cells being drawn. I have tried to accommodate them by making sure they have room to grow and good ventilation. However, I learned a long time ago that some ladies you just can’t please no matter what you do. This also holds true with bees apparently.

Monday afternoon I split two of my colonies. I was not prepared to do this, so there was some scrambling to do. Luckily, I made 2 nuc boxes last year that were available for use. There was a third colony ready to be split, but I had nothing to put them in. I managed to build, prime, paint, and dry a nuc box by 3:00pm on Tuesday and did the split. At dusk, they arrived at their new home 20 miles away.

They say first-year colonies don’t swarm and don’t split them. My experiences this year say otherwise. Time to drive home this point to any beekeeper who may be reading- always know what’s going on in the brood box. Always make sure you are queenright. Even if you can’t find the queen in the thousands of workers, find signs she is there- eggs and young larvae.

queen pic labeled    Very easy to spot the queen in this picture. This is a new queen. One of my colonies decided the old queen wasn’t doing her job and a supercedure occurred. Notice how tiny the eggs are. Sunny days are best for spotting them. They can be difficult to see.

Once again, I am racing to build hive components and prepare for the possibility of 10+ full strength colonies. Only fooling myself when I said I was going to take it easier this summer. I’ll be up to my eyeballs in vegetable canning and dehydrating soon enough. Wish it was possible to teach Olive (our dog) how to pull weeds and split firewood.

I am not a member of the Judean Popular People’s Front(wink. wink. Monty Python fans) but you could call me a “splitter.”

-Steve

 

 

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