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Splitting up hives, good time to do it and how.

 
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charentejohn
Guard Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 95
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:58 am    Post subject: Splitting up hives, good time to do it and how. Reply with quote

Just looking at my hives that I joined together as one was deteriorating, bees have woken up here very active last few days. You will need to see this thread to understand what the joined hives look like. http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18841&highlight=

As they are out and about and now settled where they are I would like to separate the hives, but when is best to do it. I would guess there is still only one queen in the original hive but who knows. I also guess a good time to split would be when they are at full strength and would be looking to swarm/split. I can't open the hives to check anything so all based on what time of year / level of activity would be good.
I have a 'snake' camera so could check TBH for honeycomb ?

You can see from the photos the old hive (bird box) is on the side of the TBH. I want to detach it and put it beside the TBH on a support I have made that will leave it the same height from the ground.
So the hives will end up side by side but separate with the only entrance to the TBH through the front slot.

I can then leave them to decide what to do for themselves. They are used to coming and going via the TBH (and a small hole in the old hive) so should be aware of it and may have built comb ?

This is just an initial starter for 10 question so I can schedule the split, just need advice on best time to do it. As ever any advice appreciated.
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charentejohn
Guard Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 95
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Secondary thought on this, just in case the queen in the old hive(box) is th only one, should I put a ramp between boxes so bees can walk instead of fly. I believe existing queens can't fly, only new ones ?

In the absence of any contrary info I will split the hives next week and put in a strip of wood as a ramp.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi John

Your problem is that the brood nest will almost certainly still be in the bird box and the queen will only ever be in the brood nest, so the chances are that she will be in the bird box when you split them and she will remain there, regardless of whether there is a ramp between the two as she will not leave the brood nest...... until it gets jammed full of bees and brood and honey and then they will swarm. The top bar hive that you attached it to will most likely only have honey comb in it with no brood and no means to produce a queen.

I appreciate that you are a novice and not wanting to disturb the bees and perhaps are apprehensive about handling the combs, but the only way to get this colony out of the bird box is to cut them out and attach the combs to top bars and place in the other hive. Of course, if you leave them to swarm, you may get lucky and catch the swarm and drop it into your TBH, but you will still have a colony in the bird box. Also, if you split the bird box off and move it away, the foragers will return to the TBH, where they will find themselves queenless (and unhappy about it) but a swarm is unlikely to settle in a hive that is already occupied, so if you catch the swarm and drop it into the TBH that is queenless, they might abscond.
If you keep the bird box and the TBH next to each other when you split them, the foragers will almost certainly drift to the box with the queen and brood in it, making the bird box extremely overcrowded with no "overspill" room now that you have removed the TBH. This will cause them problems and bring forward any swarming plans they may have although I think swarming may well be on the cards for the next couple of weeks anyway, because the bird box will already be chock a block with brood.

In order to get them to "grow" into the TBH there would need to be no appreciable dividing wall between them.....an access hole of 6 inches might be enough, but the queen is extremely unlikely to wander away from her brood nest through a hole that is about an inch and a half diameter into what is essentially a whole new cavity.

I hope I'm wrong, because I know you put a lot of time and effort into trying to combine the two hives, but bees unfortunately don't see things the way we do or do what we want them to do.

Have you inspected the TBH to see if there is any brood in there? If there is no brood, which is what I suspect, then you are wasting your time splitting them, unless you provide them with some open brood (eggs and young larvae) or a queen, and the whole exercise of attaching the bird box to the hive has achieved nothing.

Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and get stuck in even though it is something you are not comfortable with. Either leave them in the bird box and let them swarm or cut them out of the bird box and install them properly in the TBH.

Regards

Barbara
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charentejohn
Guard Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 95
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, just to let you know I have read this and as it is late I will ponder it over the next few days, so you don't worry I will do something unnecessary. Just to confirm I will not do anything for the moment and will seek advice before acting.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK thanks.
I know it is a lot to take in and I do understand you not wanting to rip that box apart and cause the bees any undue stress, but unfortunately there is no simple way to get them out of the bird box and into the TBH and to be honest they will most likely cope with it much better than you think, but I appreciate it is an intimidating prospect.

If you decide to remove the combs, do lots of research on "cut outs" (you tube is great but we also have a member of the forum "Patrick Thomas" who lives in Florida I believe and does many cut outs and posts videos of them regularly on the forum. If you use the search facility at the top of the page and enter his name in the Author field, you should find them. Also make yourself some "rescue bars" which are top bars with a strip of chicken wire attacked that the comb can be embedded onto very easily and then hung in the hive.
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