Can You Do A Six Way Split On One Honey Bee Colony?by 628DirtRooster Bees   1 year ago


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This is a video I shot back in the spring showing swarm control/nuc production from a large over-wintered colony. This colony went into winter stacked four boxes high and is one of five setups I had like this. To tell you the truth I can't remember if they ever built into the top box before winter on this particular stack. I know they had at least a full deep super of honey in the third box at the start of winter just based on what was left in spring. At the point I split them they were near ready to start building queen cells. They were heavily populated, over full with honey and making a lot of drones. These are all signs or conditions that indicate you may soon have a swarm. I get questions quite often from new beekeepers asking can you do a six way split on one colony, or three way or five or whatever they saw someone else do. In the spring I regularly split my stronger colonies up to eight ways. This does not come free of time or money. I either have to buy queens to add or graft and have them ready at the time the splits are made. If I were going to make the splits and allow them to make their own queens from open brood I would do half or less the amount of splits I do when queens are available. Every time you make splits you are setting the hive's progress back a month and If you can add a mated or even a virgin queen at the time you split you can gain back 75% of that time which is pretty important at this time of year. The life span of a honey bee is shortened severely from all the activity in spring. Having the colony make a queen, wait for her to develop, emerge, get mated, start laying and then for her offspring to develop, emerge and start to work can be the end of a colony if you over split. There may not bee enough bees left in the end to keep the hive going and then you invite small hive beetle problems. Having queens available to you is important if you are going to split thin. If you have no queens then don't slice them up too much. Err on the side of caution and leave plenty of bees and brood in each split. If they do really well you can split again later in the year.

The nuc that Jason picked up from me was one of these splits with a new queen. As I was editing I was laughing at the thought of some of the comments that will come from showing his nuc with no bees visible and calling it strong. In truth that nuc was very strong but I know what it looked like in the video so hit me with your best shot.

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