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Splits! Get out the marking pens

Updated: May 4, 2021

The intention this week was to split hives and put existing queens and colonies into cardboard travel boxes. But the weather was not very cooperative...wind and drizzle...whizzle. Michelle made a great apple tart thing. We replaced the winter tops with summer ones (with a hole for feeder). We weed ate around the hives at the barn.

Queen cells were abundant. There was talk of cups vs cells, uncharged, charged, capped, supercedure, swarm, emergency. One I saw even looked like a textbook peanut queen cell. We split a couple in the field and converted 2 nukes to 8 frames. The 8 frame inner cover and vent shim needed some new screens. They'll be rotated to the warm way at a later date.

The splits can be left alone for 3 or 4 weeks because the queen needs to emerge, mate and start laying. Give them time and a couple of frames of foundation to draw and work on. We did not feed anything yet. Forage is everywhere. But we did organize and prep some leftover sugar syrup bottles at the barn.

When do swarms happen and when do you split your hives? This was a topic of much discussion. My take away was that in the Spring when the bees begin making drone brood, that's a great indicator that you can split. The bees are raising drone brood to mate with a new queen. This tells you what's on their mind. A split need a young enough egg to become a queen or one or more charged queen cells.

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