Saturday, May 28, 2011

First Hive Split

Hive #4 was a nuc last year.  But that was then and this is now:  A couple weeks ago they were packed with bees and set to swarm.

I think the only reason they hadn't already swarmed was because of the bad weather we'd been having.

After seeing the queen cells I couldn't relax, worried they'd decide to go before I'd get a chance to split the hive.

The forecast was playing games too.  They'd say rain and then the sun came out.  And I was stuck at work unable to get away.  Would they be gone by the time I got there?

No.  Whew!

I took holiday time and raced out to the yard.  I did a full inspection.  I was thinking if there was just a couple queen cells I might try crushing them, and give them extra supers for space.  Maybe they'd change their minds.

But there were lots and lots of cells - all situated on middle frames and at the bottom.  Two big cells were even capped.  Decision time:  I'll do a hive split--my first.

I found the queen on the fourth frame with brood and set that into an empty hive box.  Next I put in a second brood frame, leaving all the bees on the frame.  I also inserted a frame of pollen and finally a frame of honey into the box = Four frames total.  I decided that the new hive should have the old and more experienced queen.  The existing hive will have a new queen.

I took some honey frames and shook bees into the hive.  Each time I'd put a screened lid on the new hive to keep the bees inside.  At first the bees stayed on the frame but as time passed they were scrambling and wanting out.

I knew to keep the hive in the shade while I worked on the second hive.  I used a screened bottom board as a ventilated cover to keep them in and allow them to cool themselves.  I took them home.  I needed to put them in a new location for a period of time so they wouldn't fly back to their old hive.

Once home and set up, I put in an entrance reducer and let them out.  They went right for all the water sources in my back yard--several bird baths.  The birds were perplexed at all this new activity.  What I noted and will remember is that nucs can get very hot and thirsty.

(Note:  The first water source bees find they will continue to go back to so you want to make sure it's NOT the neighbour's swimming pool.  Provide a water source close by).

I remembered how John would give the queens a square of moistened paper towel to sip from and how it'd calm them down.  So if you're picking up or transporting a nuc - do them a favour and let them have a drink, especially if they'll be in that box for a while with no way to get out.  Just give them a dampened square of paper towel every few hours.

In a couple weeks I'll take the new split back to the bee yard.

I admit I've enjoyed observing them flying around at home coming and going with purpose.

So far so good.  We just need the rain to stop.
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