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Author Topic: So my first attempt at a split was a crushing failure.  (Read 2397 times)
Javin
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« on: July 21, 2012, 11:22:09 AM »

So I tried my hand at a split.  I have one very strong hive, and wanted to see if I could get a couple of nucs out of it to increase my chances of getting through the winter.  The gals had 20 frames (medium) full of honey, and 15 full of brood, so I took a couple brood frames and a couple of honey frames and put them into a nuc to see if they'd build a queen cell. (Unfortunately, I'm still playing hell trying to find a frame with just eggs in it). 

By the next day, even with an entrance reducer on the nuc, the main hive descended on the nuc and have been robbing the hell out of it for the past two days.  Today is overcast and drizzly, so I blocked the entrance to the nuc entirely hoping whoever gets stuck in there will decide to call the place home, and the swarm of bees from the main hive have gathered thick on the now blocked entrance, trying to get in.

Anyone have any suggestions?
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2012, 12:43:28 PM »

Closing off the hive is ok.  Make sure there is water in the hive.  I pour some water into empty cells on a frame to make sure they have enough to use for evaporative cooling.  After 3 days the robbers will forget where they came from and join the new hive.
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Javin
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2012, 12:48:00 PM »

Cool, will take the advice on filling a frame with water. 

As a side-note, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a couple of queens.  Can't imagine the genetic diversity would hurt them, either.
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kathyp
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2012, 03:13:20 PM »

also....are you very sure it was robbing.  are you very sure you didn't move the queen from the original hive?  it seems odd to me that if you left sufficient honey in the original hive, they would show to much interest in the nuc. 
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Javin
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2012, 04:10:41 PM »

I'm fairly certain I didn't move the queen, but yes, I'm positive it was robbing.  I was watching the girls get aggressive with the nuc, but had hoped with the entrance reducer, the guards would be able to fend them off.  It didn't take them long to kill the guards, though, and then you could watch a steady stream going from the main hive to the weakened nuc.
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sterling
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2012, 07:04:31 PM »

What can happen this time of the year with no flow is. You split a hive and leave the split in the same yard as the main hive, the bees you move can get back to their home and they know there is honey in that other box so they will go back and forth getting the honey and taking it to there original home. In the spring when there is a flow it is usually not a problem.
If you can find a place some distance away to put the splits to they build up it will help.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2012, 10:01:02 PM »

Been there done that.  +1 what Sterling said. 

When you make a split, the bees in the split seem to have little to no interest in defending it for the first 2 or 3 days.  On top of that, the field bees that got moved with the split now know of a place to find free honey and they come back in force.  As sterling says, sometimes the nucs survive the onslaught, sometimes they don’t.  It helps slow the robbers down and gives a split a fighting chance, if you decrease the entrance down to the width of a bee or two. 
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2012, 11:34:44 PM »

it seems odd to me that if you left sufficient honey in the original hive, they would show to much interest in the nuc. 
It's about being in a dearth. I guess you don't have a dearth in Oregon.  The foragers don't care how much is left in the original hive.  Their job is to bring in more, more, more.  grin
I started open feeding today for that very reason.  I set up a feeding station 100 yds from the hives so that it does not encourage robbing.  It keeps the foragers busy and keeps the hives going until the fall flow.   If my hives were larger I would not have to feed because they would have more stores and enough bees to protect their honey.
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T Beek
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2012, 06:15:58 AM »

The best advise above was to reduce the entrance on the split down to a single bee space, gradually opening it up as the colony gains strength.

Placing a wet blanket over the victim hive during robbing works very well.  I've also used a sprinkler to stop robbing, works right now.  Good luck!

t
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VolunteerK9
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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2012, 08:01:53 AM »

Robbing screens work wonders. I have/leave them on all my nucs.
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Apple Farmer
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2012, 09:15:51 PM »

Javin sounds to me like your learning something and as long as you walk away with more knowledge than when you started you win!
As a side note when I make splits the frames I pull are not all eggs. Just look for a good patch of eggs on a couple of frames and use those then shake one or two frames of nurse bees into the nuc with them.
They need plenty of young bees to draw ot the cell and care for the brood on the pulled frames.
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Javin
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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2012, 12:38:15 PM »

Well, apparently I spoke too soon.  Sealing the nucs up seemed to have stop the robbing, and it also gave the brood a chance to hatch.  Both nucs are going strong now!  Still queenless, but the queens have arrived today, so hopefully I'll end up with three hives soon.  Got the gear (still need to paint it) and will transfer them from the nucs once they get a little more established.
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ApalacheeRiverFarms
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« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2012, 02:50:02 PM »

how long have they been queenless?  I've heard all kinds of info about how long to/how long you can leave them without a queen. My only experience is that my workers like the opportunity to start laying if given half a chance.
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Javin
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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2012, 03:07:47 PM »

I split them less than a week ago.  I wasn't able (due to some very angry workers) to find the eggs in the original hive to allow them to build cells, so I bought some queens.  (Could use the genetic diversity anyway.)  From what I've read, a simple queen introduction at this point should be sufficient to keep them happy.  I'll probably move a couple more frames of brood from my massive hive over for them.  That hive had 10 full mediums of brood last I checked, and it seriously needs to slow down its growth or I'm afraid nothing I do will end up stopping a late season swarm.  The beard that's on the outside of the hive at all times now is huge.  Even when it's cool out.
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ApalacheeRiverFarms
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« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2012, 04:24:40 PM »

good luck!  I'm gonna leave mine queenless for 12 hours max.
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T Beek
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« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2012, 08:33:25 PM »

When a colony swarms it'll be queenless for at least 16 days, add another week to that until she 'successfully' mates and returns to the hive to start laying eggs, so IMO 22 days would be the max I'd ever let a hive go queenless (situation dependant) before doing 'something' like providing a mated queen or taking some frames w/ eggs and placing inside the queenless colony, things that 'can' be done immediately if that is your choice.

Of course by the time they make a queen w/ borrowed frames your looking at yet 'another' 22 days or so and depending on weather and location it may not be enough time to get things established. 

Personally, its the mystery that keeps things intriguing for me while I wait on a queenless colony to make it or not.  I want them to survive, but by their own means if possible.

Javin: it sounds like your bearding bees may be bored w/ little to do other than hang out, especially if they are still bearding during cooling temps.  It is quite likely the queen has run out of room to lay eggs and all the other cells are filled w/ honey.  Might be time to move and/or remove some frames thereby providing some room and giving your bees something to do besides hanging out on the porch  grin  Just a thought.

t
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Javin
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« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2012, 09:11:42 PM »

Well the learning certainly never ceases!

So I got my two new queens for the two nucs today, and after thinking I'd stopped the robbing in the one nuc, I opened it up to find... (drum roll).  NOTHING!  They hadn't stopped robbing, they'd just FINISHED robbing.  Not a drop of honey, and the 20 or so bees left alive were looking at me in sheer panic.  So I took another three frames of brood from the main hive, two more frames of honey, and hung the new queen in there.  I've reduced the entrance down to about a single bee size so let's see if they make it this time with a queen to help them out. 

In the second nuc, they were still going strong (dunno why the hive just targeted the one) but, lo' and behold, they had FIVE queen cells built into the brood comb.  Apparently, had I left them alone, they'd have had a good chance to make it on their own.  Always one for genetic diversity, though, I popped open the cells and knocked the to-be-queen larvae out and hung the other new queen in that nuc.

Javin: it sounds like your bearding bees may be bored w/ little to do other than hang out, especially if they are still bearding during cooling temps.  It is quite likely the queen has run out of room to lay eggs and all the other cells are filled w/ honey.  Might be time to move and/or remove some frames thereby providing some room and giving your bees something to do besides hanging out on the porch  grin  Just a thought.

During the process, I went deep into the main hive, which now is down to four hive bodies.  They definitely have plenty of work to do, and still have (after a total of 9 brood frames being removed now) about four brood frames left.  I never have seen the queen in there, but the sneaky little girl appears to be doing her job.  I just hope I haven't accidentally moved her to the nuc I've put the new queen in. 

There's a lot of open and unused comb in the main hive now.  They've got honey stores started in a lot of the frames, and pollen, and have started drawing out new comb on the empty frames I've put in there, and they still have 5 to 8 frames of capped honey, so I think they'll be fine either way.  But at 4 medium hive bodies, I'd say probably a good 50% is just empty drawn comb.  Also, during all the juggling of frames, the frames aren't any longer in any pattern that I'd think they'd be happy with (some of the brood frames have ended up above the honey frames).  I'm tempted to go in and maybe even reduce them down to three hive bodies with the brood frames all in the bottom, a body full of empties, and then the honey on top, but I don't know if it's a good idea to go in and mess with them again.  I think at this point the bearding is just from the sheer number of bees in the hive. 

I'm thinking about maybe removing the inner cover all together, and placing a propolis trap in its place permanently, then cracking the top open to allow them to ventilate it as they see fit. 

Even if NONE of these hives make it through the winter, I'll have considered this money well spent.  After 15 years of reading every blog, book, and article on beekeeping I could find, it's amazing how much I've learned by just observing them first hand these past three months.  Either way, next year, I'll definitely be keeping a minimum of three hives.

This hobby is nuts.  When I bought my first hive, there was a young couple there picking up five hives.  They warned me that they'd started with one hive too, but "you can never have just one.  It's like an addiction.  You'll have a whole bee yard before you know it."  They were more right than I thought!
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BlueBee
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« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2012, 11:54:56 PM »

Quote
I just hope I haven't accidentally moved her to the nuc I've put the new queen in.
You’ll know soon enough!  Been there, done that.  The queens can be really difficult to find in big hives, that’s for sure.  The big hives are more aggressive to begin with and by the time you dig though a few boxes, they’re usually not on their best behavior.  That’s one of the reasons I like my jumbo sized frames.  There are never more than 12 frames TOTAL in the brood nest to check.
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Javin
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« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2012, 10:47:45 AM »

So the learning (and failing) continues. 

So here's what I've got up to this point:

N M N

The nucs are on either side of the main hive (anywhere else in the yard puts them too close to the neighbors, or in an area that it floods). 

So after adding the new queens to both nucs, and then moving some more brood and honey from the main hive to the nuc on the left, and reducing the entrance down to a single bee space, I figured I'd done all I could for them.  I did this late at night, just before the sun went down.

Today, before work (around 9 AM) I went out to check on them just before leaving.  Now the main hive has started robbing BOTH nucs.  I'm hoping since they could only have possibly been at it for a few hours I may have caught it in time, and I've thrown a sheet over both nucs.  I'm going to stop by the store and get some screening and build some robbing screens this evening, but this has me at my wits end.  The main hive, while absolutely chock full of bees, has been weakened considerably by taking so many brood from it, as well as honey, plus its comb is in a messy pattern in the hive.  The two nucs have been robbed mercilessly (one more than the other) and I'm thinking I may be close to having to do a full reset. 

How late in the year is too late to install a package?
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sterling
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« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2012, 10:07:10 AM »

The easy way to fix your problem is to move the main hive a couple miles away for two or three weeks. You could move the hive in the middle of the day and that will let the foragers boast the nucs when they come back. If one nuc gets more foragers then the other swap places with the nucs. After the nucs get going and strengthen you can bring the hive back.
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