I went over to my Lytchett Matravers Apiary this morning to split a double brood National hive to make two hives. This is quite straightforwards;
- Put a new stand and floor to one side, over a metre away from the existing hive
- remove the roof and crown board from the existing hive, place the roof upside down on the ground
- remove the supers and place them on top of the roof to keep them off the ground
- remove the queen excluder, making sure to check it to make sure the queen is not on it, then place it on top of the supers
- check the top brood box to see if the queen is in it, if not take the top brood box off and place it on the new floor
- Check the bottom brood box, to make sure the queen is in it
- make sure the top brood box has new eggs in it so the new hive can raise a queen from them. If not, swap some frames over with the other brood box.
- make sure both brood boxes have sufficient stores and bees in to ensure that both hives are viable, again, if not shake in some bees or swap frames around.
- put the hives back together
Some of the flying bees will go back to the original hive, but the nurse bees will remain in the new hive – they have never been outside the hive, so do not know any other home. By ensuring both hives have sufficient bees and stores, both hives should thrive. There must also be enough bees in both hives to keep the brood warm, and to forage.
Once that was done, it was back home for a cup of tea, then check the hives in my garden which I had put new queens in last week, to make sure they were out of the introduction cages. In the first hive the cage was empty, so the queen was within the hive somewhere. I spotted her right away, walking around like she owned the place. There were new eggs in the cells, so she is laying ok.
The second hive, which is a lot bigger, the cage was empty but I never saw the queen, but freshly laid eggs were present, so she is in there somewhere, doing her job. You don’t really need to see the queen as long as there are signs of her being there, like freshly laid eggs, you know all is well.
A few tidy up jobs, and a quick peek into some of my nucleus hives, and that was it for today.
Next up, first batch of queen rearing – watch this space.