I am fascinated by the Taranov split, at least partially because it defies logic. Until I tried it, I was not convinced: What’s this? I’m supposed to believe that nurse bees dumped from their hive will not cross a four-inch air moat to get back home? What gives? Bees have wings, last I checked.
I was talking about the Taranov split this morning at breakfast. I was saying what a brilliant beekeeper Mr. Taranov must have been. My husband, ever the skeptic, said Taranov must have been in a vodka-induced stupor and only thought he put the ramp up against his hive, not realizing he left a four-inch gap between the two. When he sobered up and went back to check his colony, the bees were in two discrete groups and he was instantly famous. Time to celebrate with more vodka!
But I digress. My thoughts were on Taranov because Wisconsin beekeeper Carol Nelson just completed such a split to prevent a September swarm. As I mentioned earlier, this seems to be the year of the late swarm, and every day I get more reports of this odd behavior.
In Carol’s case, she already had a late July swarm and an early August swarm. On a recent inspection of the hive that swarmed in July, she found a bottom-of-the-frame sealed queen cell and other signs of an impending swarm. Unsure of what to do, she performed a spur-of-the-moment Taranov split.
After shaking and brushing fifty bee-laden frames, she was surprised that the cluster under the ramp was so small. But at this time of the year, when the brood nest is shrinking, it makes sense. A smaller brood nest means fewer nurse bees, which means the number of crevice-fearing bees is reduced. Late swarms are usually tiny, and this is one of the primary reasons.
In spite of its size, Carol set up another hive with the split, added some frames of brood and stores, and is feeding like crazy to build it up. All signs of swarming are gone and she intends to introduce a new queen to the queenless hive.
Truth be told, I would have never thought of—or considered doing—a Taranov split at this time of year. But now I think it was a brilliant idea and I’m eager to know how it turns out. So here’s a toast to Carol as well.