Benefits of Making Fall Splits

Updated on August 7, 2013
Yoon Sik Kim profile image

A Ph. D. in English, Dr. Kim teaches at Murray State College. A bug rancher, he also keeps honeybees (Google Dr. Kim's Honey Farm).

Make Fall Splits Early in the Summer

Source

Benefits of Making Fall Splits

Typically, to increase the number of bee colonies they keep, beekeepers make splits (dividing one colony into two or more colonies) either in the spring or in the fall, and both work well when done correctly. The major advantage of making splits in the spring is you don’t have to feed the bees as the nectar flow usually begins in the spring. However, one of the major disadvantages of spring splits is the loss of honey crop: by making splits, you reduce the total number of worker bees (field force), causing reduction in honey yield. Similarly, fall splits also have the major disadvantage of having to feed the bees till the first frost. However, the advantages of fall splits outweigh those of spring splits.

Timing of Making Fall Splits

The best time to make fall splits is immediately after your honey extraction, usually from early July to early August, and usually the best time to extract honey is about two weeks after the end of nectar flow in your region. (You can extract honey immediately after the nectar flow; however, it is better for you to wait about two weeks for the bees to “ripen” the nectar they have collected as it contains more than 80% of water. If you rob honey with high moisture-content, you need to dehumidify it yourself, a chore the bees could have done it had you waited about two weeks after the flow). By making fall splits after extraction, your honey crop will not be affected especially if your region does not offer a serious nectar flow during the fall. Depending on where you live, in fact, fall splits can be made during summer—the earlier, the better. The earlier in the summer you make splits, the more brood-rearing cycles your bees can go through before the fall nectar flow or the first frost. To help quicken the brood-rearing cycle, you may want to purchase queens or rear your own queen when making splits. However, for early July splits, you can let the bees make their own emergency queens—allowing you to save money—since you still have plenty of time before the first frost.

Place the Splits at the Original Colony Location

Source

How to Make Easy Splits

One of the easiest ways to increase your colony numbers is to make what is known as “Walkaway Splits.” You do not need to buy expensive queens to do this. Before you start, set up another location in your bee yard where you will place another colony later. Here is how. First, identify an ideal colony (Original Colony from now on) you would like to maintain its gene stock in your yard based on a number of its positive attributes: gentleness, foraging under inclement weather conditions, large honey crop, quick spring buildup, excellent half-moon shaped packed brood patterns, disease resistance, and disinclination to robbing, among others. Second, find a deep brood box with drawn combs to make a Split Colony (SC)—ideally use one of the many wet-dried deeps you have just extracted honey from, the ones that are “dried” for a few days in the open air by the bees to prevent any robbing. Place this bee-empty deep right next to the queenright colony you will be making splits from. Remove five to six dry frames from the bee-empty deep (SC) and set them near so that you can access them easily later. Third, lightly smoke the Original Colony (OC) and wait for five minutes, open up and go through that OC, inspecting the frames along the edges first, and then find a frame of pollen, a frame of honey, and a frame of brood, along with all the attendant bees on them. Make sure you do not accidentally take the queen on these frames. Place these frames loaded with bees into the SC—the bee-empty deep you set up. Fourth, if you have enough surpluses of pollen, honey, and brood frames in the OC, you should provide more frames of each along with the bees on them as the more bees and resources you provide in the split, the more successful your split will be. Refill the empty space you have created in the OC with these drawn combs. Finally, remove the queenright colony (OC) away from its original position and move it to a different location, the site you have created before making this split. Then place the new split at the same location where the OC has been. Next reduce the entrance in both colonies to prevent robbing. When done, start feeding both colonies with thick sugar syrup (usually 1 part water and 2 parts sugar to maintain stable PH) and maintain feeding till fall nectar flow for additional crop or the first frost.

Many Benefits of Making Fall Splits Early in the Summer

Make Early Splits for Potential Fall Honey Crop

If your region produces lots of goldenrod and aster honey in the fall, your early July splits may be able to produce additional honey crop in fall, granted you have fed your splits nonstop before the flow. Typically as you live further north, you tend to have better goldenrod or fall aster flow than in the south. If your region does not offer any fall crop, which is common in the south, you can negotiate with an alfalfa grower to see if he would let you bring your bees to the alfalfa fields, especially when the farmer wants to seed the crop by not baling it at 15% bloom, the typical time when the nutrient of the legume is the highest.

Move Original Colonies to a New Location

Source

Make Fall Splits to Break Mite Cycle

Another benefit of making fall splits is to interrupt and control mite population, especially the more virulent varroa mites. One of the reasons that explain how Africanized Honey Bees (AHB) in the south are free of mites is their frequent absconding—the abandonment and swarming from their old habitats, seeking a new “pasture.” Typically the mite counts peak from mid- to late-summer. By making fall splits in the heat of summer, the beekeeper is reducing the mite population by splitting the colonies, reducing the mite counts at the same time. Making fall splits in the summer, in fact, can be part of your annual Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies, eliminating any chemical treatment that may be harmful to bees as well as humans in the long run.

Make Fall Splits as Means of Requeening

Experienced beekeepers know that young queens produce more broods, which translate to more field force, thus more honey production. By making fall splits, you have created or introduced new queens for the next spring: these splits will not likely to swarm next year and they will produce more honey than any existing or old colonies led by aging queens. Young queens are prodigious layers as they lay about 1,500 eggs per day during their peak egg-laying season, which means the colonies led by young queens will have more field force, gathering more nectar.

Fall Splits Are Quicker in Spring Buildup

In the spring, your mail order packages are slow to build up as some of the population dies off even before the first brood emerges; typically, you will lose about a month before the bee population starts to build up. Such delay means a loss to a beekeeper when you are about to enter into nectar flow in your region. Your fall splits, however, will not experience such population dip since they contain bees at all stages of development: eggs, larvae, brood, nurse bees, guard bees, foragers, and a queen. Unlike the package bees you have ordered, you do not need to worry about queen release or queen acceptance by the worker bees as the splits have overwintered together since last summer. They have already formed a cohesive family unit.

Fall Splits Will Enjoy Warm Weather

In the spring, the inclement weather affects negatively in spring build up; depending on the region where you keep bees, you can expect late or last freeze even in early summer. However, your fall splits, made in last July and August, will experience a steady summer heat, which is good for wax production and brood-rearing. For example, it is known that bees will only draw combs at the ambient temperature higher than 90 F. In short, the constant heat of summer will not create the climactic melodrama common during spring till late in the season at the onset of winter.

Fall Splits Assures Healthy Bees Going into Winter

By making splits as early as July and August, you will have plenty of time to feed the bees as they will have enough time to build up their winter storage. Ideally, depending on your location and your set up, the splits should have enough time to build up their numbers and winter store into two deeps, which roughly translates to 120 to 150 lbs of honey. Such storage will help them survive even Canadian winter as the honey works as insulator as well as winter feed for the bees. Such two-deep configuration will help you to make even more splits in the spring, if desired.

Fall Splits Offer Insurance against Future Winter Loss

Depending on your location, beekeepers typically experience winter loss, a naturally occurring winter mortality even under ideal circumstance. However, by making fall splits, you can insure yourself against such loss. This assurance means that your honey crop will not be adversely affected even if you suffer from winter loss, allowing you to maintain your customer base next year.

Reduce Entrance to Prevent Robbing

Source

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Yoon Sik Kim profile imageAUTHOR

        Yoon Sik Kim 

        12 months ago from Republic of Oklahoma

        Deerstalker, Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

        If you happen to be located in the south, please make sure you protect your nucs/splits from Small Hive Beetles. They will wipe out unprotected nucs and splits in three days, usually in September, October, and early November. This fact I have neglected to point out in the article above.

        Respectfully,

        Dr. Kim

        https://www.facebook.com/YSKHoney/

      • profile image

        Deerstalker 

        12 months ago

        This is a great article. I've been learning to graft queens and have finally begun to have some success with the process. However, it has taken me most of the year to master and I was afraid I was too late to make splits. So thank you for the information.

      • Yoon Sik Kim profile imageAUTHOR

        Yoon Sik Kim 

        2 years ago from Republic of Oklahoma

        Gifford,

        Thank you very kindly for your insightful comments; should you feel like it, please feel free to visit my honey farm Facebook here:

        https://www.facebook.com/YSKHoney

        Respectfully,

        Dr. Kim

      • profile image

        Robert L. Gifford 

        2 years ago

        This w2as the best discription that I have seen on Fall Splits. I have used them in the past when other bee keepers looked at me and just shook their heads. Usually later they would ask me how I was able to get well over a hundred pounds of honey out of my hives. I would explain to them that I started my spring build up in the fall, which usually didn't satisify their courosity. Funny how something so natural and easy just for some reason doesn't seem to catch on.

        Sincerely

        Gifford Honey Farm

        Robert L. Gifford

        gifford@ellijay.com

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)