I have two hives, one in my front garden and one in my back garden.
I have Buckfast bees in my back garden, and it’s a very established hive.
It’s also a very tall hive. There are two deeps, a medium and two honey supers.
In the past, when the bees needed more room, I just slapped on another super or two. If I keep on going on the same way, pretty soon I’m going to need a ladder.
But the Buckies seem to love it! They haven’t shown any signs of swarming, and they’ve been very productive.
The hive at the White House is tall, so I figured it was okay.
In my front garden, I used to have Italian bees. This was their first year, and they didn’t make it. It was very sad.
So I decided to split the Buckfast hive. I’ve never done a split before. There’s something intimidating about the concept.
I also have a confession to make. My Buckfast bees are so healthy and happy, I leave them alone for the most part. I’m of the “if they’re okay, don’t mess with them” school of beekeeping.
But my empty hive was making me sad. So I took out my copy of The Practical Beekeeper by Michael Bush and started reading up.
I decided to do what Michael calls “a walk away split.” Basically, you do a split without giving the new hive a Queen. Then you walk away and let them sort things out. After four weeks you check to see if you have a laying Queen.
When I opened the Buckfast hive this morning, I realized it was a good thing I was doing a split. The hive was absolutely to the rafters with bees and honey! They need fewer bees and honey and more room to expand.
Honey extraction was going to have to wait until tomorrow though. Today, I had to find at least ten frames of brood and honey to form the core of the new hive.
I found it in the medium super, which was perfect because the new hive has all medium boxes.
I carefully placed the 10 frames in the new hive boxes, and gave the bees six more empty frames to build on. Then I shut up the hive and crossed my fingers. Split accomplished!
But I still have the problem of not enough room in the original hive.
Tonight I’ll be building frames. LOTS of frames!
And tomorrow I’ll be removing at least half of the honey frames for extraction. I’ll replace them with empty frames, and the bees will have plenty of time to make more honey before fall.
If this works, I may never buy another package of bees again!!