hive splits

Hello..I am 3rd year beek--so now I need to start advancing some of my techniques beyond prayer and trying to keep the bees alive thru winter...soooo I have 2 strong (so far) hives this year and am looking to split in order to expand but more importantly avoid swarming if possible. As I understand it -if I take a couple of frames of brood and at least one of honey stores--I can put these in a new super or a nuc and they will produce their own queen and develop a new hive....is this true? OR do I need to purchase a mated queen? Thanks in advance.

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Hi,

You're absolutely right, making splits can be a great way to increase your colonies AND control swarming.

And you can choose between allowing the new hive to develop their own queen, or buying a new queen. The advantage of buying a queen is that you'll be more sure of the quality of the stock, and the new hive will build up much faster.

But by letting the bees raise their own queen, you can obviously save money. And also, many beekeepers prefer local queens to purchased queens.

A few considerations for making your split:

-If you're going to let the bees raise their own queen, it's absolutely ESSENTIAL that there are eggs in some of the frames that you give to the new hive. Yes, queens can also be raised from very young larvae. But consider the presence of unhatched eggs a necessity.

-Make sure that there are sufficient bees in the new hive to keep the brood in the frames you give them warm enough. If need be, you can shake some additional bees from the parent hive(s) into the new hive.

-Using frames with lots of capped brood for the split will also help them get off to a good start. (Remember that uncapped brood must be tended by nurse bees, requiring a larger population of bees to care for the brood properly.)

-If you wish, you can combine frames of brood and honey from multiple hives into one new one. There will be little if any fighting, and any older field bees that happened to be on the frames at the time of transfer would mostly return to their original hive.

-The earlier in the season you can make your split, the better the new hive will fare in its first year, and the more effective the swarm control in the parent hive. In my area, the first swarms normally start appearing as early as late March. So my target date for a planned swarm prevention / hive increase split would be very early in March.

Of course, you also want to be absolutely certain that you do not accidentally transfer the queen from the parent hive to the new hive. That will set back the parent hive considerably in their spring build up, possibly limiting or eliminating your hoped-for honey crop.

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