Over the weekend we started to execute our plans for increase during 2016. This started with our first split. We did it now, because we have our first drones hatching and in the capped brood, so if we need to make queens, we should be in good shape by the time they need to breed.
During inspection, we discovered that one of our overwintered hives had built up to 7 frames of brood in the bottom box, and were storing nectar and pollen in the top box, which was placed onto the hive 2 weeks ago. To have the hive be this strong this early is a great sign, but we wanted to get it split early on, in order to manage swarming and as I mentioned, we want to increase the colony count this year. We also wanted to introduce a new hive into one of our outyards that a dear friend is letting us place hives on.
As we were examining the hive, we pulled 1 frame that was full of fresh pollen and nectar and set that aside for the split. We then pulled 3 frames of brood, both capped and uncapped, including eggs and newly hatched larvae. I placed these into my merrill box and pulled together an empty hive to place into the new location.
The hive we split off of was on deep frames, so the new hive will also be on deeps, using the last of our deep boxes. I grabbed a deep box, a bottom board (screened in this case, because all of my deep boxes are also 10 frame, and I only have screened bottom boards for our deep frame gear) and a telescoping cover and headed on over to the outyard.
When I go there, I placed the empty hive, along with 6 frames of foundation. Then I set about transferring the brood frames into the new box, while showing our friend the combs, pointing out the bees, pollen, nectar and capped honey.
Before placing the last frame, since the queen was back at home in the original hive, I wanted to take steps to make sure the new colony would raise a queen.
I've been researching some great information from Mel Disselkoen, regarding a method called O.T.S. Queen Rearing as a way to raise queens without grafting, and without waiting for swarm cells to be build. Basically you cut out the bottom third out of a small row of cells containing really young brood and the bees will see the cut cells as facing downward instead of horizontal, and they will see this as a que to create queens out of the new brood
By the time i'd made the second knotch, the bees were already all over the first. It looked like they wer already attending to the brood there, and if all goes well, we will have queen cells to both lead that hive and additional ones to go into some mating nucs.
It's looking to be a great Spring! I have posted below a slow motion video of some of our bees bringing in some bright yellow pollen.