I went to my out apiary at Lytchett Matravers today to carry out the first stage of a vertical split, so that I could make two colonies from one hive.

I opened the existing hive, found and isolated the queen, then selected 3 combs of brood, shook all the bees off and placed them in a new brood box, along with a frame of stores. I replaced the frames I took out with new frames with fresh foundation. I released the queen into the bottom box and placed a queen excluder on top of the box, then a honey super with some drawn out comb and some fresh foundation. On top of this, I placed another queen excluder, the new brood box, crown board and roof.

The idea here is that nurse bees will detect the brood and move up to look after it. The queen excluder prevents the queen and drones from moving up into the top box and the honey super. Thee bees in the top box might think they are queenless, due to the distance between the lower brood box with the queen in and the top box, and may start to produce emergency queen cells from the brood in the top box.

If they do or not does not matter to me, as I will be putting a new queen in the top box when I move it onto a new base to start the second hive. I will remove any queen cells the workers have started to ensure the new queen is not put at risk by any ‘rougue’ virgins that may emerge. By adding a new queen instead of allowing the bees to raise their own means that there will not be a gap of a month or so while an virgin is raised and mated before she starts to lay – the new queen will start laying right away, meaning the colony can get cracking sooner.

The queen in this hive (marked white 21) is a very good Carniolan and produces very docile bees. I will probably replace her this year and move her into a nuc that I will use as a brood factory, providing beess that I can top up any other colonies if needed, and to populate my mating nucs.

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