Against all advice and even against my own better judgement, I split Connie early.
Last week, when I went out to check to see if the new packages had freed the queens, I saw that Connie was showing swarming behavior. The front of the hive was bearded and the bees were extremely active. This is normally summer behavior when the bees go out to escape the heat. When it happens this early in the spring it means that the hive is thinking about swarming.
Since Connie is half Russian, she tends to swarm early and often. I decided to do a preemptive split. I had already set up an empty hive next to Connie so as long as I was suited up I decided it was time.
I put the top deep from Connie the new bottom board and placed an empty deep on top of that and then I put a the old top with a full honey super on the other deep. The only thing I didn’t do was put a feeder on the new hive. I don’t have any extra top feeders so the unnamed hive will have to do with a bottom feeder for a week or so.
What you are supposed to do is find the queen and find frames of brood and make sure that the new hives have either a queen or frames of brood or queen cells. I have never been able to find the queen, mainly because the cloud of angry bees bothers me. I am not a bold beekeeper. Some bees had already gotten into the suit where the legs ride up (I am 6 foot 3) and I was being repeatedly stung in the ankles. I am trusting to luck on this one.
Bees with pollen are going in and out of both hives. I don’t know how the queening is doing, but I expect that Connie was well on the way with a swarm queen and I hope it hatched in the right hive. By all appearances both hives are happy, but the new hive is somewhat less active.
Was this a mistake? Connie is the only survivor of the two hives I bought when I started out on this adventure. If any hive is going to survive it will be her. I hope her new sister survives, too.