Preparing for Spring Splits
Can you actually prepare ahead of time for spring splits? You bet you can!
Things to do NOW:
Have your equipment on hand–
Consider that each split will require either a Nuc box or an 8 or 10 frame hive box plus, a bottom board and lid. Additionally, you will need feeders for these splits. Some beekeepers prefer to top feed with mason jars, especially when you have multiple hungry splits. A small hole drilled in the top of a box will accommodate this method along with your jar.
Boardman feeders are great for feeding new Nucs as well. They are easy to fill and inexpensive. Division board feeders (frame feeders) are also a good method. Although they take up space inside the box, it’s common practice and like boardman feeders, inexpensive.
Order your Queens –
Queens (from any breeder) are on a “first come, first serve” basis. Ordering well in advance will guarantee you have them in hand for splits day.
Hive Inspections –
This is the time of year that hive inspections are crucial. As our colonies grow (and they are), space is at a premium. For every full frame of capped brood, once emerged, 7000 bees become part of the population. It takes 3 frames to house that many bees. As you inspect your hives, make good notes on how many splits you can actually make. Consider it only takes 3-4 frames of brood and resources to make a viable split in the spring. You may have more splits possible than you think!
Frame manipulation –
Some colonies do better than others… this is a given. Part of bee management is to move frames around to colonies that need it and take from those that need to “slow down” in anticipation of a queen not arriving for a few weeks. A frame of capped brood will provide a huge boost to weaker colonies. In turn, for the donor colony, removing some of these pending bees can make the difference in swarming and not swarming.
Know how to make a successful split! –
If you’ve never made a “successful” split, consider taking our ½ day Splits class. You’ll learn everything required to make splits as well as how to care for them afterwards. And, yes, we do actual splits in the bee yard in class (weather permitting).