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Bees about to swarm, best way to split?

 
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:23 am    Post subject: Bees about to swarm, best way to split? Reply with quote

The bees in one of my hives appear to be preparing to swarm. This is great news as they were so weak going into winter I really didn't think they'd see January. From about 4 bars they've clawed their way back to over 12 bars and have been very active. But through the window I can see a queen cell, and it was just a cup 10 days ago.

I have an empty 1.5m hive looking for bees in another part of the garden and it would be great to somehow use the existing bees. But it's not really practical to move the hives around as I want them at their existing locations (space constraints). So I concluded I had the following options:-

1. Leave alone and hope I can collect the swarm.

2. Remove all bars except 2 bars of stores, and a bar of brood, making sure the Queen remains. This would mean all other bars and bees would go to the new hive. Flying bees should remain/return with/to the old hive.

3. Take a bar of stores and a bar with the Queen on, and house temporarily in a mini hive. All Queen cells remain in existing hive. Place mini hive next to main hive to try and collect some flying bees when they return. Late evening transfer from mini hive to new hive. Keep new hive corked up for 2 days to encourage setting up their new home. But would the flying bees all go back to the old hive anyway?!

I'm thinking 2 seems best, and 1 seems natural and fun. 3 is probably me over complicating things. Suggestions welcome please!

Thanks Mike
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 259
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like Option 1. However, if you want to cut the risk of losing a swarm, you can try Option 4, The Taranov swarm. You will need to get your timing right though.
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1495
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mostly I go with 1 and let them swarm.

In the past when doing a split I have taken a couple of frames/bars with brood and young larvae (less than three days old and probably also with eggs) - I have trouble seeing eggs with my eyesight. I add a couple of frames/bars of stores and then borrow a couple of frames of stores and shake the bees off into the new hive. If I get the queen then the old hive will produce a new one, if I don't the new one will.

However for the past five years I have just let them swarm.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

are you able to split in the same hive?
this is quite handy if you have never done a split before as you can easily recombine if things don't go well.

You'll need entrances at each end and two followers boards in between.
If following the split you equally space those entrances between where the original entrance was they flying bees may well equal out in between the two.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would go for option 2. That way you have your hives where you want them.

Cheers
Rob.
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I've decided to go with option 1 as that will interfere least. Yes I'll be disappointed if I miss collecting the swarm, and it'll be a shame to have an unoccupied hive, but who knows, I may see a swarm up the local park again and will have room to house them. I'll update further when something happens... Very Happy
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They swarmed this morning. All very exciting (probably because it was my first) and after about 15 mins decided to settle high up (60ft) in one of our trees. So I won't be attempting to collect them from up there! If I get lucky, maybe they'll move into my vacant hive in due course... Very Happy
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2016 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh Mike, I'm so disappointed for you, but keeping fingers crossed that they come down for your spare hive, rather than move on. Unfortunately in my experience, prime swarms like to move on though, especially if weather conditions are favourable.

It might be worth thinking about splitting the remaining colony to prevent casts.

Good luck whatever you decide.

Regards

Barbara
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2016 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Barbara, but luck was not with me today. Mid afternoon they moved off somewhere (wierd as they were so loud this morning , but I didn't hear them going later on). I'm pleased for them really - they had looked so fragile going into winter, and yet still they've managed to come through. I wish them well!

Regarding splitting to avoid casts, is that simply a matter of transferring a couple of bars with Queen cells, and a couple of bars of stores, to the new hive?


Mike
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2016 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a shame! Once they are up that high, the noise is much less obvious, so not surprising you missed them move off. They clearly had no taste passing up on such a classy residence!

I would transfer all but two of the queen cells and probably 2/3 of the brood (mostly capped brood) to the new hive with some stores. Any flying bees on them will return to the original hive, so that will give you an evenish split and should prevent a further swarm.

Regards

Barbara
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2016 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would always split. The chances of that swarm finding a suitable habitat and surviving are not too good. Most probably die. If you split, the bees survive and you get another hive.

Cheers
Rob.
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, so this morning I split them. I was surprised how many were left after the large swarm yesterday. So it's now time to start worrying I've messed something up and should've left well alone.. Very Happy Very Happy . Is there any need to feed 1:1 syrup after a split - they do have stores, but the split that doesn't have the flying bees may be pleased of it?
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done on splitting them... were there many queen cells? How many capped?
As long as they have stores in the comb they will be fine. Some of the nurse bees will get accelerated promotion to foraging for anything else they need.... like water. Making sure there is a shallow water source close to the hives, particularly if you are suffering this drought that we are, will help them though and make sure there are pebbles or straw for them to land on so they don't drown.

Keep us posted on their progress.

Regards

Barbara
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Barbara, there were 3 queen cells and 1 cup as far as I could see, so I shared them between the two. I think they were capped but I can't be sure now you've asked specifically ! I left each half with some open brood too, so hopefully that will act as contingency.

It's been a warm dry week down here but rained heavily last night and the forecast is wet for the next few days. However I'll sort out something nearby with water for them just in case. Heading up to your neck of the woods again tomorrow, so sounds like I'll be exchanging rain for drought Smile Mike
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm extremely surprised there were so few queen cells.... 3x that number is more usual, but it can be as many as 15+. Leaving them both some open brood sounds like a good insurance plan.

Hope you have a smooth journey tomorrow. There were thunder storms rumbling around this area yesterday but unfortunately didn't drop on us, Durham may have been luckier. The ground is desperately in need of water here now!
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
The ground is desperately in need of water here now!


Must say I never really think of droughts and the UK in the same sentence. Weather sure can be strange.

Cheers
Rob.
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DurangoKid
Nurse Bee


Joined: 15 Jul 2014
Posts: 36
Location: 7500', Durango, Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheers Rob,

Any news on how the two new(-ish) colonies are progressing?

dK
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mefgbee
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Jul 2014
Posts: 57
Location: UK, Cheltenham

PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quick update: both hives doing well, but one is much slower than the other (the one that I moved to a new hive with just 4 combs). I've left both hives well alone since the split and have only checked them twice since splitting them on 07Jun. On 25Jun both hives were busy but neither had brood, and I didn't see eggs or a queen in either. So that made me anxious but apparently it can take a while...

Checked again on 21Jul. Stronger hive had loads of brood and stores. Weaker hive has small amount of brood and few stores. I thought my weaker hive had 2 queens, as they looked different (in the photos) but after examining my photos I really can't be sure. Have put a jar of 1s:2w syrup to help the weaker hive. Also closed down entrances to 1/2 cork (weaker) and 1 hole (stronger) for the two hives as have seen a couple of wasps around (but not particularly causing any trouble yet).

When the weaker hive has more bee power (mid August) I may well have to feed thicker syrup to aid the buildup of stores. Or maybe I should be giving thicker syrup now? I should have just followed Barbara's advice more closely, as I've ended up with an uneven split by not wanting to risk disrupting the parent colony (post swarm) too much and not taking 2/3 of the brood to the new hive Very Happy
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DurangoKid
Nurse Bee


Joined: 15 Jul 2014
Posts: 36
Location: 7500', Durango, Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It will likely work out nicely in the end. I have split in August before and it has worked out - although in hindsite I wouldn't recommend it. I typically have nectar flow from wildflowers until October but the descent into winter can be quite harsh after that. When is the frost date typically in Cheltenham?

If I can find the queen, which can often be tricky, I try to ensure she goes into the new hive to counter drift.

Please keep us posted as the colonies make progress.

dK
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