As a new beekeeper, you have to think about how to maximize your production. And splitting hives is a great way to get more bees and honey from a single colony.
But this can get quite confusing as you are trying to make a decision.
So, after all, actually how many splits from one hive is possible?
It depends on a few factors. Mainly the seasons, because they have different lengths. In long winters you should not make more than 2 splits. But in case of short winters, you can get 4-6 splits from one hive. Factors like how cold it gets, nectar flow & how much resources are found also play an important role.
Want to learn the details about this topic? Jump right in for a detailed explanation.
Why & When Should You Split Your Hive?
Beehive splitting is a key part of beekeeping. Controlling swarming, getting more honey, and balancing resources, all are maintained by hive splitting.
Apart from all of that, you get several colonies from one colony. This expands your bee numbers and produce.
Hive splitting is a methodical process. Untimely splitting could result in the death of the original colony.
We have to take into account the season, nectar flow time, and resource abundance before splitting a hive.
There are many conditions that play part in how many splits can you make from one hive.
There are various methods of splitting as well. Each method has its own pros and cons.
Hopefully going through this article will help you know which method works for you best.
Things to Know Before Splitting
When you split a hive, you are basically taking a hive and dividing it into two.
What it means is, the number of bees alongside the resources also gets half as well. And you need to ensure that both the hives have enough resources to flourish.
Considering this, mid-spring is the perfect time to split a hive. Because summer will arrive with ample resources and nectar flow will start too.
The vast majority of bees feed on pollen and nectar, but certain species have evolved to feast on meat, substituting dead animal carcasses for flower meadows. https://t.co/Ve1TEiwRl2— CNN (@CNN) November 28, 2021
New beekeepers often feel confused and ask can I split a first year hive. To that our answer is absolutely not.
Keep in mind that, you should never split a hive you just got from a nuc. You have to use an overwintered colony.
An overwintered colony is a colony that has passed at least one winter. Because a new colony will already be very rich in resources.
It takes a hive some time to develop enough worker bees, so the resource gathering is a bit slow in the first year. Splitting a hive in the first year makes an already weak colony even weaker.
You also have to protect them from robbing. As the new colonies are weak and vulnerable, any big colonies near may try to ransack it.
How Many Times Can You Split in a Year?
Honey Bee splits actually depend on a few factors. Those factors determine how many times you can split one hive.
The length of the season is a big factor. Parts where winter is long, there you should not make more than 2 splits. Because splitting weakens the hive.
And a weak hive will not be able to gather resources before winter, and it has to spend a long winter using these resources.
But the places where the summer is longer, their farmers generally can get 4-6 splits from one hive per year. But the mother colony has to be overwintered.
Basically, the colony population increasing and coping up with the winter losses are the main challenges. Well, HIVE ALIVE Bee Food Supplement is a game changer in this regard. You can use it if you need to enhance the bee population in your new colony.
But even that needs extreme care and maintenance to yield good results from.
What Should You Look Out For After Splitting?
If you’re asking yourself how to do a split on honey bees, it is not a complicated task. But there are a few important things you need to look out for when doing your easy hive split.
Obviously, when you’re making two hives from one, you’ll need separate queens for both of them.
You have two options here. You can just leave the colony with eggs and larvae, and the worker bees will eventually choose an egg and make it a queen.
This method is the walk away split beekeeping. But this method is lengthy in terms of time.
Because the larva needs to be fed and taken care of. Then it will mature and start mating to produce more bees. And don’t worry about finding the best feeding, here are some of the best options from where you can choose-
Then the worker bees will be gathering nectar and other resources for the hive.
This process takes about 7-9 weeks. So you can’t expect to harvest that season.
Alternatively, you can put an external queen from a cage in the queenless hive. Before that check how long a queen bee can live in a cage.
But you have to check every now and then if they accepted or rejected the queen. Or else you might end up with a queenless hive and may not even know it.
2. Selecting Broods
Broods are the worker bee-made frames that hold the larva and eggs.
This is important because you might wonder how to split a double brood hive. But it doesn’t matter how many broods there are.
If you are thinking of doing walk away splits beekeeping then you have to choose broods that have eggs as well as larva.
Because the worker bees choose an egg and feed it the royal jelly. That turns an egg into the queen bee.
But after your honeybee splits if the broods contain only larva then it will be too late to make a queen.
So you will be left with a queenless hive.
3. Maintain Supply of Resources
The new hives will have fewer bees, as well as their resources, also will be cut in half.
To grow and start working they need food. So while moving choose frames with nectar and pollen so that they can start working. Or you can use –
Also when the nectar flow has not started yet, you can supply it with sugar syrup.
This also works as food for the bees. When the nectars start flowing and the worker bees have enough access to the nectar, they will stop taking the syrup.
4. Adding Bees
Take a few frames of bees from the previous colony and place them in the new one.
Shake the frames and transfer the shaken bees to the new colony.
If you want to make the process faster, try making bees quick if you have the supplies. That should help you in transferring the bees.
Be cautious so that you do not transfer the queen bee in the process.
Also when transferring bees, make sure to choose the young bees. Because the young bees act as the nurse bees.
And the weaker hive needs more nurse bees to take care of its larvae and eggs.
In case of reverse hive split, the queen bee gets transferred too. Then the mother colony will choose a new queen.
But you have to make sure the mother colony has broods with eggs in them and enough nurse bees.
Well, that is about what you needed to know on how to do a split on honey bees. Hopefully, this information will help you become a successful beekeeper.
Now we will be discussing some of the commonly asked questions regarding how many splits one can get from one hive-
How Many Frames Does It Need To Make A Split?
You should at least use 3 frames to make a split. This is the minimum needed to accommodate all the eggs, larva, pollen, and honey. But if you have more bees then you can use 5 frames according to your need.
Do Bees Reuse Wax?
No bees do not reuse wax. If you give them wax they will carry it out as garbage. They will make their own wax every time you start a new colony with new frames.
Is Eating Honeycomb Healthy?
Yes, honeycomb is healthy. Honey and honeycomb both have several health benefits such as immunity-boosting, and improving the heart. It can also be used as an alternative to sugar for people with diabetes.
We hope that you’ve got to know about how many splits from one hive. This article should aid you in becoming a more professional beekeeper.
Keep doing what you love and see you next time!