Monday, February 19, 2007

How to Make a Split

How to Make a Split

A split is made to either increase colony numbers or to prevent swarming. In either case, a colony is NOT split unless it is strong in numbers of worker bees, has a prolific queen, and is healthy. Although sometimes desirable to be done in very early spring, a split should NOT be made until decent flight weather for pollen or nectar collecting in the spring. In Maryland, because our total honey crop is made in April and May, and little, if any, is collected during the rest of the year, the new split is NOT going to produce any honey in its first year. This might be dramatically different in states that have nectar collection during the summer and/or fall.

Order a new queen, preferably MARKED, and upon its arrival, give the queen a drink of water and put her in a cool, dark place until the next day. Go to the colony you want to split, find the queen and ISOLATE the frame she is on and the adhering bees in a spare hive body while you select the frames you want to remove and move them to the new split. I select 2 frames of honey, 2 frames of CAPPED brood, 1 frame of OPEN brood, and 1 frame of nectar and pollen ALL WITH ADHERING BEES which is a total of 6 frames.

Put these 6 frames in a new hive body and add 3 more frames of drawn comb, totaling 9 frames, put the new queen cage in place between the frame of OPEN BROOD and the frame of nectar, and then SHAKE the adhering bees off 2 BROOD frames from the old colony. Add a bottle of 1:1 sugar syrup and do not touch for at least 3 days and if the queen is out of her queen cage, remove it, and put the 10th frame of drawn comb in place. Going back to the original colony, return the old queen on her frame to the colony and replace the 6 frames you have removed for the split with 6 frames of drawn comb. YOU HAVE A SPLIT!

If you do NOT have drawn comb frames, if you are LUCKY, you might get by using foundation, but there MUST BE A STRONG NECTAR FLOW PRESENT and/or a CONTINUOUS FEED OF 1:1 SUGAR SYRUP to get that foundation drawn and drawn properly. As I have repeatedly said for over 40 years FOUNDATION IS NOT DRAWN COMB.

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