Just done my first split

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Do224

Drone Bee
Joined
May 27, 2020
Messages
1,122
Reaction score
503
Location
Cumbria
Hive Type
National
Found some charged queen cells (two capped!) in my biggest double brood hive today. This is the hive I mentioned in another thread that I think has found some OSR. They were bursting with bees and lots of nectar, with some capped honey. They are the calmest bees I’ve known so I’m very keen not to lose them!

Somehow, after three sweeps of both boxes I managed to find my very skinny (slimmed down?) unmarked queen. I put her in a nuc with a full frame of stores, a frame of pollen, a frame of open brood (I think ideally this should have been capped?) and two frames of foundation. I shook in another two and a half frames of bees. I put the nuc a couple of metres away from the original hive.

Left one charged open cell in original hive. Shook off bees on all frames and hopefully destroyed all the rest.

Firstly, have I done ok or made some mistakes?

Secondly, quite a few bees are now hanging out on the front of the nuc and also the original hive. Will they sort themselves out or should I do anything? Original hive is the one on the left and the nuc is obviously over on the right…

3E793F78-4325-4228-8505-8458024A0E6D.jpeg
 
Not exactly, firstly, if you have capped queen cells it's usually too late as they will have already swarmed - are you sure the slim unmarked queen is not a newly released virgin ? Did you have a look for any queen cells that had been uncapped ? When did you last inspect them ?

What you have done so far is almost the first bit of the Nucleus method of swarm control - which is fine if they have not already swarmed .. The risk in giving them uncapped brood is that if there are eggs or young larvae in there so they could start making more queen cells. The other risk is that a lot of bees will return to the original hive and you may not have enough bees to nurse the brood you have left in the nuc - the fliers and foragers will have returned to the original hive. Ideally you should have transferred capped and emerging brood as they then become the new workforce in the hive whilst waiting for the new eggs the queen will lay to develop.

Have a read of this: There's a good explanation of the nucleus method.

https://theapiarist.org/the-nucleus-method/
 
I don’t think it could be a virgin. I inspected last about 9 days ago and there were just a few play cups.

Should I swap the open brood for a frame of capped brood tomorrow or just leave them to it?
 
I don’t think it could be a virgin. I inspected last about 9 days ago and there were just a few play cups.

Should I swap the open brood for a frame of capped brood tomorrow or just leave them to it?
Check to see how many bees there are remaining in the nuc and if necessary top them up with more. I would leave them with the frame you have put in there but check in a few days that they are not making queen cells. Assuming they have not swarmed already - you need to pay attention to the second part of the nucleus method ...

If you last inspected 9 days ago then what you saw could not have been play cups - Queen cells are sealed at Day 8 ... so either you missed the queen cells you have found that are capped or you mis-identified charged queen cells with a grub and royal jelly as play cups. I think you may find that there was another queen cell somewhere that you missed and the queen you found is a newly emerged one ..swarms will usually go once the first queen cell is capped if the weather is suitable - what's the weather been like for the last few days up there ?

Lastly, are you sure that the capped queen cells are charged - it's not unusual for them to turn play cups into full size queen cells and cap them off without there being a grub in there ? Did you see eggs when you found the queen cells - if they are intent on swarming the queen will be slimmed down in readiness and the queen will go off lay ...so if there were fresh eggs in the cells ... perhaps just having you on !
 
If I think they are short of bees tomorrow can I just shake more in?

The weather has been very cold but mostly dry for the past week or so. I’ve got swarm traps up in the garden and today was the first day any bees were showing an interest…

Yeah at least one capped cell was charged and there were a handful of open charged cells.

I’m not sure if there were eggs present in the hive…I’m terrible at spotting them. Certainly there were small larvae…the frame I put in the nuc was full of larvae (oops).

Interestingly the queen was on a frame of stores when I found her. She was very skinny
 
If it was a virgin I found, why would there be charged queen cells in the hive?
 
If I think they are short of bees tomorrow can I just shake more in?

The weather has been very cold but mostly dry for the past week or so. I’ve got swarm traps up in the garden and today was the first day any bees were showing an interest…

Yeah at least one capped cell was charged and there were a handful of open charged cells.

I’m not sure if there were eggs present in the hive…I’m terrible at spotting them. Certainly there were small larvae…the frame I put in the nuc was full of larvae (oops).

Interestingly the queen was on a frame of stores when I found her. She was very skinny
Yes you can just shake some more in ... I tend to do it from bees on super frames as there's less chance of them being foragers - some will be and they will return to the original hive.
 
If it was a virgin I found, why would there be charged queen cells in the hive?
Because it's possible they made queen cells and filled them in the few days after your last inspection but you missed one ... and a new queen has emerged. Whether this is the case depends on your assessment of the state of the uncapped queen cells. Look at the queen development chart here:

https://theapiarist.org/queen-cells-dont-panic/

and try and figure out what you have seen in terms of the queen cells developing.

Swarm control is governed, to some extent, by the development cycle of the queen from egg to emerging virgin. When you are selecting a cell to develop you ideally want one that is in it's very early stages (ie: day 1 or 2) and mark the frame that it's on so you know when to go in and remove any other queen cells.
 
Because it's possible they made queen cells and filled them in the few days after your last inspection but you missed one ... and a new queen has emerged. Whether this is the case depends on your assessment of the state of the uncapped queen cells. Look at the queen development chart here:

https://theapiarist.org/queen-cells-dont-panic/

and try and figure out what you have seen in terms of the queen cells developing.

Swarm control is governed, to some extent, by the development cycle of the queen from egg to emerging virgin. When you are selecting a cell to develop you ideally want one that is in it's very early stages (ie: day 1 or 2) and mark the frame that it's on so you know when to go in and remove any other queen cells.
Thanks…I’d say they were around day six as per the chart you linked to. They were all pretty short to be honest, probably half way between a play cup and what I’d consider a finished swarm cell in terms of length. They were very clearly charged though with plenty of white gloop inside
 
Thanks…I’d say they were around day six as per the chart you linked to. They were all pretty short to be honest, probably half way between a play cup and what I’d consider a finished swarm cell in terms of length. They were very clearly charged though with plenty of white gloop inside
So ... how many queen cells are left now in the queenless hive ?
 
Checked the nuc today and looks to be plenty bees. Oddly there are no/very very few bees venturing out of the nuc today. All other hives are flying well. Is that normal when you do a split? Is the frame of open brood keeping them occupied in the hive?
 
Checked the nuc today and looks to be plenty bees. Oddly there are no/very very few bees venturing out of the nuc today. All other hives are flying well. Is that normal when you do a split? Is the frame of open brood keeping them occupied in the hive?
They are the young nurse bees.
 
Remember what you did. You took the nuc away but in the same apiary so that all the foragers could fly back home.
I just expected that to happen today but I guess they left straight after the split yesterday…
 
Swarm traps all quiet today despite the good weather (yesterday there was half a dozen scouts at each) so hopeful it’s worked 🤞
 
I just expected that to happen today but I guess they left straight after the split yesterday…
No they go straight away ... they are fliers and foragers - they fly and as soon as they fly they return to the original site that they have oriented on.
 
Back
Top