Walkaway Splits – Right & Wrong

“If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly first.” – Joel Salatin

All of my hives at Dr.D’s are spaced 18″ apart in all directions

Work and weather have stifled my beekeeping but it hasn’t stopped me completely. Saturday, my wife and I went out to Dr. D’s place and split Hive-B.1 & Hive-C. This gives me (10) Hives and (3) Five-Frame-Nucs.

However, while making my splits, I wasn’t thinking and therefor I made two different kinds of Walkaway Splits.

Hive-B.1 was split by taking the top box off and placing it on the new location. Then I made sure that box was filled with eggs, pollen, and honey. Of course a lot of the bees will return to the original location, so I shook (10) frames of bees into the new box in hopes that at least half of the bees might stay. This will probably do fine but it is not the best practice (in my humble opinion anyway).

Hive-C was split perfectly. I moved the whole hive to the new location and then placed a box filled with eggs, pollen, honey, and two frames of nurse bees on the old location. All of the field bees will return to the original location and that will ensure there are enough bees to fight the dreaded Small Hive Beetles. That is, in my opinion, the best practice for making a walkaway split.

All four of the hives were given eggs, pollen, and honey so that no matter where the queens ended up, the other half of each split would have everything needed to produce new queen cells.

Also, if you notice in the graph above, I did not use the VSH eggs in these splits. Hive-C is my oldest and most resilient hive, so I wanted to keep that genetic stock in my yard.

Hive-B was a swarm that just took up residence in an empty box in my apiary but that queen has proven over the past couple of years to be resilient and gentle – again, good genetic stock.

The VSH queen is the mother of all of the hives at my house and will be the root stock of most of my grafts but it is important to keep diversity in breeding and so that is why I chose to make my recent splits without VSH eggs.

The last thing I did was to shake 5 frames of bees into a Starter Hive (Hive-VF). The Five-Frame-Nuc has a screened bottom and no exit. I also placed a hive top feeder on it and then made brackets so the lid could be secured in place. At the end of the season I will give this box a queen and enough resources to survive the winter.

So with this addition and the (3) hives at my house, I am now equipped to graft at will — well as soon as the rain stops.

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