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Author Topic: Should I have split my hive?  (Read 2204 times)
Anonymous
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« on: May 06, 2006, 10:25:04 PM »

Hi Everyone:

Here is the scenerio:

I started with one hive last year and this hive survived the winter. Its population was growing well coming into the spring. About a month ago I opened up the hive and discovered swarm cells. I destroyed the cells according to popular opinion and closed up the hive. I went in again about 2 weeks later and discovered more swarm cells. I destroyed those. I went in about a week and half later and found more swarm cells. I then read some comments made by Michael Bush about how destroying swarm cells does not necessarily prevent a swarm and can end up leaving a queenless hive. Based upon this I decided to split the hive.

This is what I did:

1. Left the majority of the brood with the old hive at the old location. Figured all the foraging bees would return and repopulate this colony because I planned on shaking the majority of the house bees into the new split.

2. Tried looking for the queen. An effort in futility. This colony has two deep bodies and is loaded with brood and bees. All the books inform you to put the old queen into the new hive but the way they say it, it comes across as something easy to do. No way. For me, it is just about an impossibility to find a queen among a large colony.

3. Since I could not find the queen, I decided to just dump all the house bees off the frames into the new hive, figuring the queen will be somewhere in the brood nest and will end up in the new hive via this method.

4. Put some frames with uncapped brood and eggs into the new hive in cas e the old queen did not make it into the new hive so the colony can raise their own queen.

I plan on opening the new hive Monday to see if there is evidence of a laying queen. I did this past Friday. I will open up the old hive in about 2 weeks to check on a laying queen. I left about 4 swarm cells in it. Two of them were long and straight. Beautiful.

I have some questions:

1. Did I approach this problem correctly?

2. I was hoping to reap a lot of honey from this colony. What are my chances of getting some honey from these two colonies?

3. Should I try to recombine the hive within a month?

I started 4 more colonies this year. I have a total of 6 colonies at the moment.

Looking forward to some feedback. Thanks and sorry for the long post!  embarassed
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Kris^
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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2006, 11:03:47 PM »

My situation was similar last year, and I did just as you did.  When I checked the hives a week after splitting, I discovered queen cells in the new hive, and the queen in the old hive.  OOPS!  I moved the queen into the new hive and let the old one raise a new queen.  Both hives did well that year.  The old hive (#1) produced 88 lbs. of honey.  The new hive (#2) produced only 41 lbs. of honey -- because it swarmed sometime in July or August, taking the original queen away.  The new queen in that hive is laying stong this year; the hive is already capping honey, despite the fact that it threw a 8+ lbs. swarm on Friday, which I fortunately caught and hived.

Last year may have been an unusually good year, though, because I also got 45 and 72 lbs. of honey by September 7th from 2 packages I started on April 22nd.

Good luck!

-- Kis
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bcarpenter
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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2006, 11:48:15 PM »

Thanks Kris for the reply.

Just to let everyone know, I posted the original post to this topic. For some reason my account was deleted which caused my two posts at the time to appear under the user Guest instead of bcarpenter. I had to recreate my account. Sorry for any confusion.
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Yours in Christ,
Brian
bcarpenter
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2006, 10:09:09 PM »

As my original post stated, I split a hive to try to avoid a swarm. It did not work.  huh

First of all I failed to get the queen into the new hive which meant the old hive had swarm cells AND the old queen.

The hive finally threw a swarm this past Saturday which was the 13th of May. Praise the Lord, the swarm(s) landed on a branch above the hive. The only problem was the branch was pretty high but I had some ladders and a friend with rope and we manage to cut the branch (which felled on me  shocked ) and then dump the main swarm into a waiting hive.

I now have 7 hives instead of the 5 I wanted this spring. I will try to post some photos up to show everyone. If I get to it, I will come back and edit this post to include the url.
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Yours in Christ,
Brian
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2006, 01:57:07 AM »

Luck stiff.  Ain't learning fun?
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2006, 12:05:02 AM »

Think how much bigger the swarm would have been if you hadn't split it.  Smiley
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Michael Bush
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bcarpenter
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2006, 07:33:53 AM »

Quote
Think how much bigger the swarm would have been if you hadn't split it. Smile


Hi Michael. That did cross my mind. wink

Well I do have an update on this particular hive. It swarmed again!! This time they landed on my firewood stack and were very easy to retrieve.

I went into this hive about 4 days ago to see how they were doing after throwing 2 swarms. I saw more swarm cells so I made a mental note to be on the lookout for additional swarms. Well yesterday I went out to sit by my firewood to watch my hives for a while. I find it very relaxing to watch the bees at work. When I got up to go into the house, I saw the swarm about 2 feet from my head.  shocked I never even knew they were there while I was sitting.

I retrieved my last hive body to put them in. After I dumped the bees at the entrance, I sat by the hive to watch them march in. I find it fascinating to watch a swarm rush into a waiting hive. After sitting there for about 5 minutes, a light color bee caught my eye and discovered this bee was a gorgeous looking queen. It was love at first sight.  Smiley

She marched around the entrance for a few seconds and then dutifully went in. I would say this about a 3 pound swarm.

I have decided in the future to most likely allow my colonies to swarm if it seems like it is a reproductive swarm and not interfere.  I will try this approach for the next 1 or 2 seasons. I want to build up my apairy so I want to increase my number of colonies and I am on top of my hives often. Let me know if you all think I am wacky for trying this approach. I am open to suggestions.
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Yours in Christ,
Brian
Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2006, 11:38:04 AM »

>I have decided in the future to most likely allow my colonies to swarm if it seems like it is a reproductive swarm and not interfere.

The time to interfere was a month ago.  Smiley
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
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bcarpenter
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« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2006, 11:55:37 AM »

I did interfere a month ago to no avail. But I did get 3 colonies from this one hive. Not a bad ROI.
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Brian
bcarpenter
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2006, 04:56:14 PM »

This hive swarmed again!! 4 swarms from one hive. I have run out of deep hive bodies and had to resort to using a medium size super. Praise God that I have more equipment coming in from Dadant on Monday.

This swarm also looked to be about 3 pounds of bees. I am emotionally exhausted from hiving 3 swarms in about week.

How many times can one hive swarm?
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Yours in Christ,
Brian
Michael Bush
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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2006, 09:16:51 PM »

One hive can throw a lot of afterswarms.  I've seen 30 swarm cells in a strong hive before.  If the clusters are small you can just start combining them.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
bcarpenter
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2006, 09:34:24 PM »

What is considered small? The first swarm was about 4 pounds. The second and third were about 3 pounds.

Thanks for the interest.
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Yours in Christ,
Brian
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2006, 11:45:17 PM »

Three pounds is the equivalent of a 3 pound package so you're still okay even a two pound swarm might be acceptable this eary in the year but anything smaller should probably be recombined with the parent hive.  I've known a hive to generate 5 after swarms.
When you see a lot of swarm cells it's really to late to prvent a swarm the action must be taken before hand--this is one reason timely supering is so important.  You may have gotten all the cells the first time you destroyed the hive but the more you try to destroy them the cagier they get about hidding the.  Interferring like you did set up a situation where there were a staggered series of queen cells hatching at different times--hence the repeated after swarms.
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
Michael Bush
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2006, 09:30:35 AM »

Even a pound might get going, but a handlful of bees probabl won't survive.  So, depending on the size of the swarm, the equipment you have, the time of year and how many hives you want to end up with,  you make your choice.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
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