By: Chari Elam
If you’re like me – making splits is my favorite part of beekeeping! It certainly can be intimidating … BUT – it is a part of beekeeping we can ALL do. Most of my joy in beekeeping (other than this magazine and teaching) revolves around “playing with bees”! What better way to play with bees than to make splits?!
As you become a better beekeeper you won’t be able to keep from making bees. Some of you are saying – What?! Yes, that is true. Bees can be like rabbits given half the chance. Healthy, thriving colonies will produce more bees than you can manage in 1 colony and will require splitting! This is a very good thing! Call yourself successful if you are preparing to make splits!
Making splits isn’t hard. The simple overview of it – equalize the contents of a double deep colony and you have a split. There you go! Well… maybe a bit more to it than that, but in essence that’s pretty much it! The kicker here is to have the “right” resources being equalized between your split boxes.
It’s easy for me to say… just move this and that. But, in reality when you get into your hive, odds are, you’re going to question what you are seeing and what goes where. My goal here is to make it abundantly clear what you need to do and what you need to see when making a split.
- 2-3 - frames of brood (open and capped)
- 2 - frames of food resources (honey and pollen)
- Fill the balance with new undrawn frames and/or simply divide the remaining resources between the 2 boxes.
- Put them in the same order as you would see in a typical brood nest.
-Brood (open and capped) in the center
-Resources (honey/nectar/pollen) left and right of the brood -Empty, undrawn or resource frames to the outside of the nest (both sides equal’ish’) I say equal(ish) because odds are they won’t be exactly the same on both sides.
- 2-24 hrs. later add a queen to the Queenless side of the split – For detailed information on installing queens and requeening, check out Blake’s article this month HERE.
Here is an example of all of the resources you are looking for to use in a split. The object is to have an equal balance in each split so that both sides have an equal opportunity to continue to grow.
Now what? Feed, Feed, Feed! It is imperative that you feed a split colony. Also, remember that you have weakened the colony by doing this split. Watch for Small Hive Beetles and keep them under control! I stress that because, SHB will take over a weakened colony this time of year if you have them in abundance. Thankfully, not all areas do. If you are unclear what a Small Hive Beetle is or what it can do, check out this very helpful article by Nanette Davis: CLICK HERE
After care of your split
So often once a split is made, we tend to pat ourselves on the back and leave it there. No, no, no… You have just started! Within just a few weeks you will find that a successful split will have taken off and you need to add a second deep. Did you see the short article in last month’s issue on adding a second deep? If you didn’t check it out HERE! This article is talking about swarm prevention, but adding space is adding space, regardless of your intent.
Yes! You should easily expect honey production from these early splits. We’ll talk more about adding supers next month, but for early nectar flows know this – in double deep colonies full of resources (honey/nectar), you will be able to add supers. Note: If there are empty “undrawn” frames in your boxes (2 deeps) your bees will likely fill those with nectar before going into the supers. Be careful not to add them too soon, but too late is equally important.
Now, let’s make some splits!!
When do You make Splits?
Liberty County Beekeepers Association Owner Crane Meadows