About a month and a half ago we split our hive. After an inspection, we noticed that the bees had almost filled the original hive with honey and brood. We decided that it might be a good time to split the hive so that the bees wouldn’t split themselves and take off in a swarm to find more space.
We set up a new hive on our hive stand; a single brood box with a hive entrance, and filled the brood box with frames from our original hive. The frames were filled with brood, then we alternated with new frames so the transferred bees would have room to expand.
We didn’t see any Queen supersedar cells, but our hope was that the bees in the new hive would sense a lack of a queen and feed one of the young larva royal jelly and create a new queen.
Supersedar cells usually appear at the bottom of a frame. They are larger than worker cells and are usually arranged perpendicular to the regular comb direction. These cells are made to raise a new queen.
We gave the bees a couple weeks to adjust to their new home. We didn’t want to check them too soon after making the transition because we wanted the bees to believe that this new space was safe and not prey to being intruded upon. Activity seemed to be growing just from hive entrance observations.
After a couple weeks we decided to check the hive and see what was going on inside. We found that most of the hive was full of honey. It appeared as though most of the brood had hatched and no new brood had been laid. So we thought our split to be a failure. Without the presence of new brood, that meant that the new colony had failed to create a new queen and were just living in the hive, making honey and merely existing.
So we tried again, taking brood frames from the original hive and placing them in the new hive, alternating with honey/empty frames.
Again, we gave the hive a few weeks to adjust. This time the coming and going of bees seemed to increase.
We just did a hive inspection and SUCCESS!
The new hive has TONS of brood! Even on the new frames that were empty! This means that the new hive has a queen that is laying eggs!
We are so excited to have two working hives to build from. Hopefully next year we will be able to split at least the large hive again and have a total of three to four hives by this time next year.
I’m looking forward to our honey harvest in the next couple weeks. Our bees have been busy and productive this year and we couldn’t be more pleased!
Have you had a successful hive split that you’d like to share with the community? Leave a comment below, or visit the Keeping Backyard Bees Facebook Page.