Beekeeping in Vermont...


Looking to Split...

Mike Lamere writes:

Hi Mike,
I hope to split my hive a little later and I am wondering what keeps the bees from the new hive from returning to their former home.


If you split a colony of honeybees, and leave the split in the same apiary, older field bees will return to their home colony. Nothing you can do about that. What you can do is insure the new colony has enough young bees, which don't know how to return to their parent colony.

Add a couple shakes of bees from open brood...nurse bees...and you should be okay.

Or, you could use an excluder to make the split.

Remove the necessary combs from the parent colony. I usually use 1 honey, 2 sealed brood, 1 unsealed brood, and 1 honey/ that order. Shake off ALL the bees...back into parent colony. Rearrange parent colony, pushing the remaining brood to the center of the box and adding comb or foundation to fill the empty space. Place a queen excluder on the parent colony, and your split on top of the excluder. Cover and leave overnight.

Next day...when the bees are flying well, remove split from excluder and place on bottom board on new stand. There will be no queens in this split, as she/they were left below because of the excluder. The bees will have re-populated the split with young bees...being lured there by the unsealed brood.

Give caged queen, queen cell, or allow the bees to raise their own queen.

- Mike

- Mike Palmer keeps bees at French Hill Apiaries in St. Albans. We are grateful that he has agreed to answer questions on beekeeping in Vermont, his workload permitting. VBA Members: Ask Mike your question with this form. (Requires you to login to the site.) We'll post the best questions and answers here as regularly as possible. (Personal responses to questions will not be possible.)