A beekeeper here in Olympia, Dave Hurd, sent me the following photos of splitting a hive with a Taranov board. His design for the ramp is slightly different than my own but the principle is the same. Because he split a Langstroth rather than a top-bar hive, I thought you might enjoy seeing his photos.
Based on these two examples, it’s hard to say if all bees are this smart or if Olympia bees are smarter than most. Hmm…
Anyway, in his comment, Dave wrote:
I’m an Olympia, WA beekeeper (well, I keep most of them) and today is my one-year bee anniversary! . . . I wanted to let you know that I detected impending swarmification (my word) a little over a week ago in my triple deep and so used this method to split the hive.
It was astonishing. It was also unnerving to be shaking sooo many bees out onto the sheet. The carpet of bees marched itself up the ramp and split just like clockwork. . . . My board prototype is a little different than yours but performed admirably. Both the triple and the new colony seem to be doing well, though I don’t think I’ll open them to snoop for eggs for a while yet. . . .
I crafted my board out of an 8-frame bottom board, plywood scraps for side stands, a chunk of 2×6 attached to the bottom for ballast, and 1.5″ wide piece of leather-backed fuzzy material that I cut off of an ice scraper cuff that I then stapled to a piece of 1×2. I figure by the time winter comes back my wife won’t recall exactly how long that ice scraper cuff was. . . .
Thanks, Dave, for your description and some really great photographs!