It was a busy day in the bee yard. After carefully checking over the last few weeks we decided to split the strong hive today. We saw our first dandelion and the hive had over 10 full frames of bees with 3 frames of capped brood. We have never spit before, but since we wanted to return to three hives and to keep the other hive from swarming it seemed like a logical step. Splitting is just what it sounds like. You take a hive full of bees and divide it in half. If that sounds easy well, you should be a beekeeper. It really wasn’t hard, but it did get more equipment out than I even realized we had. The queen and half the brood stayed in the old hive body. They got a new deep box with foundation and 2 frames of honey. Since they have the queen and the space the idea is to make them think they swarmed and draw new foundation to make a new home. The other bees got eggs and capped brood and a second deep of drawn comb. It will take them 21 days to make a new queen, so they do not have to build a new house, just a new queen. Any egg less than 4 days old can become a queen. As soon as they realize they are queen-less they will start making a new queen by feeding it royal jelly. It took quite a bit of shuffling to get everything figured out. We were also able to get the hive out of the 9 frame box we hate so much which was great. The bees built all sorts of weird comb in it. It is now inside waiting to be melted down for candles, etc.
The middle hive was doing ok. The queen with the green dot from last winter was still there, along with some eggs. We did not intend to do anything to them, but we did accidentally. In shuffling boxes we used the old top box from the split hive (the dreaded 9 frame one) to cover over the feed pail of the week hive. When the field foragers returned they saw the top box with the squares and returned to the middle hive rather than the hive they left. I knew bees used the symbols on the boxes to help them but I thought they woudo return to the old hive by location. At any rate, the middle hive could use more bees, and bees bearing pollen are usually welcomed into foreign hives, so it may have been a sneaky good move.