Tuesday, July 2, 2013

False Start: 07-01-2013

I set out to split my hive yesterday and things did not turn out as I planned. 

First off, a split is a way of increasing the number of hives you have without having to buy more bees.  You can either buy a new queen and introduce her to the new split, or you can let the bees raise a new queen for themselves.  Since I know my current hive survived the winter and are very gentle bees (usually), I wanted to increase those genetics.  So my plan is to let them raise their own queen.  To do this, you just need to move a frame that has eggs into an empty hive and two frames of capped brood and two frames of pollen/honey.  Within a short amount of time the bees will realize the queen is no longer with them and they will begin the process of turning one of those eggs into a new queen.  In 16 days she would hatch and if all goes well, within the next week or so, she will have gone on her mating flight and returned to the hive to begin laying eggs.

My inspection started as planned and the top box had quite a bit of honey and pollen in it and all the brood that was there before had hatched.  No more eggs had been placed in the top box so the queen has moved down into the lower two boxes.  Since I spotted her in the middle box last time, I expect she may be in the very bottom box now.  I breezed through the first box pretty quickly and set it aside, ready to get to the real work of finding the queen and the frames with brood and eggs.  There were a lot more bees in the next box and I put a bit of smoke on them to move them out of the way of my hive tool.  The frame on the end that I tried to pull had a lot of comb with honey in it built far out from the frame.  I was unable to move it without crushing bees against the hive wall and as I tried to maneuver it a second time I was met with about four bees that started smacking into my veil.  When bees head butt you like that, it is a sign that they do not appreciate you being there and they are getting annoyed.  I stepped back for a second and let the bees calm down for a bit.  After a minute, I went back in and tried to get the frame out again and I was met with a slightly larger barrage of about 10 bees butting into my veil.  <<Sigh>>  Frustration set in on me as I realized I was not even going to get into this box without pissing them off.  Another reason that the bees were probably annoyed was because it was cool (in the mid 60's), very windy, and very cloudy out.  Generally speaking, you are suppose to wait until it is warm, calm and sunny out to do an inspection.  I guess three strikes and you are out!  I decided that it just wasn't my day and put the top box back on and closed up the hive.

Hopefully this coming weekend will be nicer and I can try again.

Until next time, thanks for reading!


  1. Good luck with your split! Ours worked beautifully - with minimal fuss. Whew!!

    1. Did you split into a nuc or a full sized box? Did you let them raise their own queen?

  2. Sometimes if smoke doesn't help, I've had luck using a fine mist of sugar water syrup from a mister bottle. It coats them in sugar syrup and they will stand around and clean themselves instead of taking to flight (at least not as aggressively and not nearly as quickly).

    Good Luck!