Hive splitting

This morning we walked down to the allotment ready to feed the chickens. Leia had laid an early egg and we let them out to enjoy the fresh air. As my husband sorted out the girls in the main coop, I checked on Dolly. She had more gunk stuck in her beak but was walking around her coop quite quickly. We picked her up and cleared out a bit of gunk (not much because she was very resistant) and managed to feed her the antibiotics, egg yolk and water. Her beak which looked really weak yesterday at the bottom looks a little better but it’s still not aligned properly. Here’s hoping she can manage to fight through.

We dashed off home to put on our first attempt at banana bread. It was surprisingly easy to make and smelt amazing when it was in the oven! As it was baking, I had a call from Steve saying they were ready to split the big hive. I left my husband with instructions for the taking out of the banana bread and dashed to the allotment.

Steve was there but on his way home because he was concerned one of his chicks has escaped. He left Phil and I in charge and today we had Tracey with us too. We set up the new hive three foot away from the big hive and suited up. The bee suit I borrow needs a bit of repair and I wondered about whether I might try to find a hood. Next, we opened up the big hive. Phil hoped that we could just move one brood box across to the new hive. This would only be possible if we found eggs, brood, workers and honey in both brood boxes. Happily we found the top brood box was full of all these things but we didn’t find the queen. We then opened up the bottom brood box and searched it. The majority of the brood was in the top box but there was some of everything in the bottom. As an added bonus, I found the Queen busy in the bottom brood box. We moved the top brood box across to the new hive, set up the feeder in the top as they only had a limited supply of honey. We put everything back and packed up, celebrating a job well done!

I briefly attempted to remove the bubble wrap from the olive tree but got beaten back by an angry bee. Tracey had managed to be hounded by an irate bee which then tangled itself in her hair. Between us, we managed to get it out. I have never seen a bee do this before! Apparently, the same thing had happened the day before! Something must have been in the air because another bee appeared and objected to me so much that it managed to get tangled in my hair. A few unpleasant minutes later, I was bee-free!

Upon my arrival home, I was greeted with an exciting waft of freshly baked banana bread. It was absolutely delicious!

6 thoughts on “Hive splitting

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    1. Thanks – good to hear that people are enjoying the blog!

      Hives can be moved either 2-3 foot or 2-3 miles. It seems insane but any other distance and you risk the colony moving back to the original position. There are a few open queen cells in the brood box in the new hive currently. It takes a week for a queen cell to hatch then three weeks to mate and come back. Phil and Steve have ordered a new queen for the hive. These can be bought online with next day delivery. The queen hadn’t arrived today as it was supposed to but we couldn’t wait any longer to split the hive.

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    1. It’s no problem – always happy to help a fellow enthusiast!

      Queen cells – in previous years we have roved the queen cells. This year, Phil has found some research that suggests you don’t have to. If they prepare for a queen and don’t need her they will get rid of her, if they have more than one queen they will fight it out until only one is left.

      Splitting hives: Two ways to tell; first, in your weekly check there seem to be masses of bees, lots of drones and several queen cups along the bottom of the brood frames. Secondly, you may see lots of worker bees massing around the entrance to the hive – if you go back a year or two on here you will see photos of when a hive swarmed on site.

      Moving bees: the bees in the new colony without a queen will recognise within a few minutes that they can’t smell her pheromones and know they don’t have one. They will quickly start creating a queen cell or start to feed royal jelly to an egg to turn it into a queen. There will of course be some bees who fly out of the new colony back to the old one and there isn’t much you can do about that. Hence why you should transfer several frames of worker bees to cover for the fact that you will loose some.

      Happy Easter 🐝

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      1. Bees will fly around 2-3 miles away from their hives in order to collect food stores and they always return to the correct hive. We moved the bees 2-3 feet as we can slowly move the hive over the next few months to where we want it to be. Each movement of a hive needs to be carefully thought out and it must stay in place for 2 weeks before it is moved again

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