Time has really flown this fall and I have missed the opportunity to tell you about some of the goings on around here. One of the stories that fell through the cracks was the moving of 4 hives a little over a month ago. They were moved as the first part of an experiment that will be conducted next spring. I am going to attempt to make several splits next year to see if it can improve my genetics.
On a nice Thursday back in October these hives were loaded up and moved from my home apiary to one about 4 or 5 miles up the road. I had to recruit a friend to help. Three of the four were VERY heavy. I am not certain of their exact weight, but I know that we had trouble lifting them into the back of the truck. A hive moving tool was used.
There was nearly a mishap when it was time to take 1101 out of the truck. This was a hive that did extremely well this year. In August two supers were removed. Two supers remained on this hive as well as several others because I only own 10 – 5 gallon honey buckets and couldn’t store all of my honey crop. My plan is to go back around to such hives in March and remove the remaining supers for extraction at that time. 1101 was VERY heavy and the center of gravity was pretty high. At my last inspection it was noted that the two supers were filled with capped honey as well as the top DEEP. We almost lost it removing it from the truck at the new hive site.
There are now 7 hives at Hive Site 03. It is the highest hive density I have ever had. The plan from here is to go back in March or April and split hives based upon their condition. I will wait for the first swarm report in my area and then begin splitting. I am going NOT going to split the strongest of the hives, or the weakest. The splits will be made from the ones in the “middle” after the winter. All of 6 candidates for splitting are living in three deep boxes. I anticipate making strong two-way splits out of them. The resulting colonies will be moved to areas that have very strong hives already, OR places I know with high densities of feral bees living in trees. It is hoped that the newly formed queens will mate with drones from the strongest colonies and give me better genetics.
I have been conversing with a beekeeper from Northern Indiana who has been doing this for the last several years, reporting that his stocks have improved over time. I did not ask for permission to use his name so I am leaving it out. He has been featured in American Bee Journal in an article by Randy Oliver. Why do I mention this? If it is a creative strategy to increase the genetics of stocks I can’t take credit for it. It is this gentleman’s belief that drone genetics are not valued enough in beekeeping. I will get permission from him next spring when I revisit this apiary and make the splits.
I know I have been put off from the idea of making splits in the past, but I am constantly evaluating my practices. If this does increase the strength of my stocks I view it as being worth the stress that causes. I am not going to do this with all of the colonies. As with all things beekeeping I will do a small scale trial, evaluate, then make a determination as to whether or not to continue.
What do you think? Any predictions on what will happen?