Monday, May 31, 2010

The Art of Splitting a Hive - Part 2 (May 30th Sunday)

The temperature was in the 90s, however, it wasn't as humid and we waited until approximately 4:30pm to open Hive #2. The smoker was working nicely, which was unusual. I've learned to get the smoker started while suiting up and gathering tools to work in the hives. You don't want to be blowing fire at your bees, just smoke. Untreated burlap, 100% cotton fabric, leaves, anything that is natural and not synthetic is good fuel for a smoker.

The bees were very mild towards me but took an extreme loathing to my father. Later, my father said he had been eating onions and perhaps they didn't like the smell. Not sure. The bees somehow got under his veil and stung him on the nose. Then my husband who was on hand to keep the smoker going was stung on the ear. The girls were feisty. We went through two supers and could not find the queen. I was determined to find her. It was hot, the bees were bumping into our veils, I tried to to talk to them, and they weren't hearing any of it. No. We did find the queen in the 3rd frame to the last in the very bottom brood super. She was on a frame with a large swarm (queen) cell.

We had an empty super ready to place the queen in when we found her. We brushed her, the attendants and other bees into the empty brood and closed it up temporarily. We found a couple of brood frames, frames full of honey, and pollen frame and placed that in with her. We looked closely at each frame to make sure there were no queen cells on them before inserting them into the new hive. Then filled it up with empty frames. Next, we stuffed the entrance with cloth and relocated her and the new super far away from the parent colony.

We replaced the missing frames with new frames and closed the hive back up. The swarm cells should be hatching very soon and hopefully, the bees will want to stay. After this process was accomplished, we noticed that the bees were no longer hanging out on the porch.

It is possible and highly likely the field bees from the new hive will go back to the parent colony. The nurse bees will remain with the old queen. We have installed an entrance reducer in the new hive to prevent robber bees and allow the bees more control of the entrance to the hive.