I was raised on a working farm. So, the upswing of activity toward spring was like storm clouds in the west. You knew it was coming, and it could – and probably would be – rough. So I’m a beekeeper now, and the month of April was a harking back to the spring and summer work of times past.
Swarming: A sign of bee multiplication
The increase of egg-laying by a good queen in spring creates pressure in the hive for room. Not always, but many times, this urges the collective, called a colony, to make preparations for swarming. The word swarm always sounds ominous, but it’s simply the term applied to a colony of bees that are seeking, and are in the process of, finding better accommodations.
You might see a group of bees, hanging from tree limbs or even clotheslines. This “bearding,” as it’s called, scares people into thinking the Apocalypse is drawing nigh. So, the beekeeper tries to control this natural phenomena, by knocking back the exploding population. Thus, he “splits” his hives.
What makes up a hive?
There are 3 main sections in a hive; the brood frames, the pollen frames, and the honey frames. To determine the strength of the colony, a beekeeper looks at the amount of brood in have in the hive.
The brood section is the combination of eggs, larva and capped brood, or soon emerging adult bees. It’s this precious cargo that will be the beginning of the new hives.
Once a beekeeper determines the hive must be split due to the natural multiplication of the bees, he must be fully aware of the health of the bees and how many brood (or little ones in the nursery) the hive has developing.
Splitting: Gaining new hives
To create a new colony, a beekeeper must take two frames of this precious brood and supply them with honey frames and pollen frames to sustain their young colony. Two more frames must be taken to create another colony and so forth, until all the brood frames have been used up.
This may result in 3 “splits” along with the original colony when finished. That’s right! From one hive I may end up with 4. But that’s only the beginning. Then the “splits” must be supplied with a queen in some manner. This year we bought mated queens and placed them in the splits.
Bees: The joy of managing creation
Of course, there are always more details to the work, but the general picture of splitting hives really is a management of something, as one would manage a business, farm or a family. That natural work is what brings us so much satisfaction in life.
All the best to you and yours,
Get local honey from happy bees
We’d be delighted to share some of our local Oklahoma wildflower honey with you. Try a different vintage of single-origin honey foraged in Texas, North Dakota or Wisconsin. Visit us at the Farmer’s market or find a local store with Gold Standard.