Springtime Split

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minature_hero 

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Hi, I realise this has been partly covered before in the past as I have had a search on the forum, but....

What would be your preferred method of expansion from one hive in my first year to 2-3 hives in total this spring. I have been reading up and I know there are several methods but wondered what is the preferred method people most use and any practical tips are useful as the books/websites don't always cover that - just the theory.

Looking forward to the plethora of advice as always! :)
 

RoofTops 

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The "natural" way would be to wait until they make queen cells, and you could encourage this by not giving them much extra space in the spring and probably feeding as well, unless there is plenty of forage. When you see queen cells simply split the colony 3 ways, one lot in the old hive and two others in nucs or hives, ensuring two colonies have queen cells and one the old queen. The problem is if you only have a colony on one brood box there won't be many frames to go around and you may not end up with two new queens, but even if you only get one it will be a start.

The more complex route would be to raise queens using grafting and then using mini-nucs for mating as you won't have enough bees to make up many full sized nucs. Again, the size of the colony you start with is important, most advice is to use a colony on two brood boxes.

For the latter to work you will need to build up the colony to two brood boxes by about May, so early feeding would be important, but if you have a queen from last year and they are all in good health it should be quite possible.

I did a shook swarm on one colony in late March and they were well into two brood boxes (Langstroth) in mid-May, which I subsequently split 4 ways.

Or, and this would be my choice in your position, you could buy a couple of queens locally. This should not be too expensive, £25.00 each maximum I would suggest - unless they have a long pedigree. This would be the most reliable way as with only one colony and one queen there is a risk of losing her if you start "messing" around too much and especially if you are a relative newcomer.
 

minature_hero 

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Thanks for the reply RoofTops. :) Sorry I didn't get back sooner, I have been away for a few days. I have a small mating hive, as yet unused. Any tips on best practice with this?
 

Peebels 

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RoofTops, your preferred method stated above, regarding the purchase of two new queens. How would you proceed with this? Would you put each queen in a new hive with a couple of frames from the original?

Also when would you start the feeding to encourage the colony to build up?
 

MuswellMetro 

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RoofTops, your preferred method stated above, regarding the purchase of two new queens. How would you proceed with this? Would you put each queen in a new hive with a couple of frames from the original?

Also when would you start the feeding to encourage the colony to build up?

i would takes the old queen, one main brood frame ( or two in strong colony) and two stores and put in a NUC plus one foundation frame and dummy, shake one extra frame of brood bees into the box and seal up

in the main hive i would replace the brood frame(s) with a foundation frame with each corner cut out in replacement frame (s) ( i find bees like contact if the brood nest is disturbed ... just my way) and then two new foundations frames at edge of store, sugar water spray the bees and queen with 1:1 plus lemon grass oil syrup ( two drop to a pint) then place queen in a candied bee cage between the foundation & brood frames near a cut out corner., feed the rest of the syrup to them

take the NUC sealed three miles away...and then open and feed 2 pints of 1/2 to 1 syrup then two to three gallons of 1:1 syrup

Not able to get 3miles away, seal the Nuc for three or fours days, feeding as above and open up with entrance facing 90 degrees to main hive with a board 1ft infront of it and as far away as possible from the old hive

Feeding i use 1kg of FeedBee pollen substitute in a slurry made with 1:1 syrup in late march/early april,( only if i want to split, as it causes swarming) but timing depends on your area and weather and the BEES
 
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Poly Hive 

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i would takes the old queen, the main brood and two stores and put in a NUC plus one foundation frame and dummy, shake one extra frame of brood bees into the box and seal up

Big nuc box?

PH
 

MuswellMetro 

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Big nuc box?

PH
6 frames 14x12s 245 mm wide, job lot,silly things as you cannt get two on top of a brood box, think they made them from half a varroa screen then added sides, so wider than 230mm which i thought they were

i am trying two 14x12 poly NUC hives from park bees this year but surprised to see no ventilation or varroa screen

hope they dont overheat

PH..my friend says paint them inside with water based varnish, because they are soft poly...do you have any veiws?
 
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