How to make a walkaway split
In contrast to a swarm-control split where you need to know the whereabouts of your queen, a walkaway split can be made without having to find the queen. The steps for setting up a walkaway split are easy:
- Examine the brood nest of the hive you want to split and look for eggs. Split the brood nest between the new hive and the old hive, making sure each hive has many eggs, both capped and uncapped brood, and enough nurse bees to cover the entire brood nest.
- As in any split, arrange the frames so the brood nest is in the center flanked by pollen and then honey. If there is insufficient honey, add a sugar syrup feeder.
- Close up the hives and walk away.
The queenless portion will soon begin to raise a queen of their own from very young larvae. Since eggs will be hatching over the next three days, they will have many new larvae to choose from and several days to get it all done. The queenright portion of the split will continue on as before.
The downside of this type of split is that it takes a long time to establish. Rather than raising a queen from a maturing queen cell, the workers are raising her from a newly hatched larva. You have to wait an additional week before you start looking for fresh eggs. So instead of checking for eggs after three weeks, you should start checking after four weeks.
This type of split can be done before you see any swarm cells. However, if you start too early in the season the split could fail for the following reasons:
- Nighttime temperatures may be too cold for a tiny split. Remember, you have a relatively small number of adult bees and a large number of brood cells. Nighttime temperatures must be fairly moderate to avoid chilled brood.
- Remember that the virgin queen will need drones with which to mate. Don’t try raising queens in any type of split until drones are plentiful.
If you see swarm cells in any of your hives you usually don’t have to worry about the temperature or the drones because the bees don’t start building swarm cells until conditions are right for swarming. If you are unsure of your timing, let the bees guide you.