Feeding Honey Bees while Splitting

We got a great question from Dan who emailed us asking :

“Hi, I’ve read your post on splitting a bee hive. I’m going to do this very soon. It says don’t open the hive for 5 weeks. I was wondering if it was OK to feed the bees during this 5 week period. Thanks Dan”
8th April 2019

Our reply :

“ Hi Dan, Thanks for your email.

Preparations before splitting would include ;

  • 1. Complete treatments – do not leave treatments in while splitting a Beehive Colony
  • 2. Check health of brood and that the original queen is laying well
  • 3. No extra boxes added to the part of the split that is raising the new-season queen

But in terms of feeding… if you add an extra inner-cover with small slot and feed above it – maybe with a top-feeder – then you wouldn’t be changing the temperature inside the hive and feeding this way would be fine.  

Hive-mat with the slot
Top Feeder placed above hive-matwith the slot
Single Queen cell from an emergency response when a split is performed

The method of not opening the hive for 5 weeks is all about keeping the temperature consistently warm, which is essential for good queen development.  That’s why its best not to add any extra space or boxes to the part of the split which is raising the new-season queen.

This is what you want to see after 5 weeks – a hatched queen cell

Waiting 5 weeks can be difficult, when I first did a split I was very nervous about it, but I made sure I had done all the preparations so the hive was pretty much mite free.  It was well worth it and we have always had good results with this method but we did learn – when using organic varroa treatments it was important to make sure the older queen – which you move away, has continued varroa monitoring and management because she will carry on laying and will have capped brood which may have varroa in the cells.

Mated Queen Bee and new eggs ( week 6 )

Thanks again for your email and all the very best for a successful result on your split.

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