The larvae were about 12hrs old last Saturday morning when they were placed carefully in the cell bar to be drawn out. Today was the day to see the results. Before i know how many colonies i can split this large queen rearing colony down to i needed to know what i had to work with. On arrival at the hive, the bees were really active and lots of pollen coming in too. With the bees so active it gave me confidence that it was warm enough to split the colony down and not worry about the temperature.
The Cupkit had been placed in the top brood box so it did not take long to get in and have a look. Initially i was disappointed as there were only 2 queen cells from the 10 cups on the cell bar and a large amount of freshly drawn comb. Not a great result, i guess something went wrong, at the moment i can’t think what, still 2 perfect queen cells is better than none. On closer inspection looking through the brood boxes i found the colony had also drawn out a number of other very good size queen cells. I decided to use the best 3 of these as well to make up the new colonies. In fact there is a benefit to using these too as the mother of these is the queen that i originally wanted to use to rear queens. This way i have can have new colonies from two different queens
So i set about breaking down the colony into 5 new smaller colonies, each with a queen cell, 3 frames of brood of different ages and a frame of honey. Rather than taking the queen cells and rearing them in Apidea i wanted to use hives and set up smaller colonies in each one. I hope there is benefit in having 4 frame colonies rather than using smaller Apidea. I want tehm to quickly gain in size over the summer to be stronger going into winter. After all i want colonies and not just a large number of queens.
I should also have found the original queen, after 2 thorough searches i was unable to find her. There were some eggs in the colony so if she was no longer there she was there recently. If she is in one of the splits i guess anything could happen with the colony she is now in, the right result for me is that she will be replaced by the queen hatching from the queen cell.
As i am not using Apidea i have decided i would try a method i have found on the Dave Cushman website, this suggests that the new colonies should be placed in a circle 2-3m wide around the site of the original colony with all the entrances facing inwards. The website suggests that this should result in a fairly even distribution of flying bees across the 5 colonies.
I now have to play a waiting game to see the results. The queens will all be hatching later this week, the ones from the Cupkit will be hatching on Thursday and the others within a day or so. By this time next week they will be ready to fly.