The Olympia beekeeper who submitted the photos of splitting a Langstroth with a Taranov board, Dave Hurd, sent in some details based on reader questions. He did a nice job explaining his method, so I’m presenting it as today’s post. Once again thanks, Dave, for all your input and your great photos.
I can add a little more info about my split experience. On the afternoon of 4/28 (two weeks ago) we were having some usually warm weather and the bees were flying so I thought it would be a handy time to start a HopGuard treatment. I first installed the strips in my nuc and then moved onto my triple. I put strips in the top box, then as I lifted it off I saw a couple of capped swarm cells along the bottom of the frames. I carefully lowered the box back into place and closed the hive. That was probably around 2:30.
At that point I was sure that the hive had either already recently swarmed or was just about to, and decided to make the split immediately in case the girls hadn’t bolted yet. Having read Rusty’s excellent description of the Taranov method I knew what I needed to do (run back into the house to read it again), so I came up with the materials to fabricate my board and put it together, got a nice floral print sheet from my wife, and got set up.
As I was placing the board and sheet I noticed right away that through some adrenalin induced measurement error the lip of the board was about 1.5″ too high, so I slipped a couple of 2x4s under the hive to even them up. It was probably about 3:00 when the apparatus was assembled, in place, and ready for action.
I started shaking frames working from the top down, stacking the emptied boxes on the top cover. When I got to the bottom box I pulled, shook, and replaced the frames leaving the box in place.
Per the instructions I made sure to carefully brush the bees from frames with swarm cells to protect the new queen. For the other frames it only took one or two firm shakes to drop the bees onto the sheet. The whole process proceeded very quickly; after 20 minutes the hive was as empty. I spotted the marked queen midway through the middle box as she fell on the sheet.
At 5:00 all of the bees were either back in the hive, clustered under the board, or out foraging. By 5:05 the cluster was in a new home sipping sweet syrup. This was a brand new box, with brand new frames of brand new foundation; no queen cells added.
Today, two weeks later, the old marked queen is still in the new hive with quite a bit of eggs, brood, and capped brood. They seem to be doing well; in fact they seemed a little crowded so I added a second box on top of the first. I’ll check the old hive to make sure there are eggs next week, and if not I’ll requeen it from my nuc.
As far as needing help, I did this all on my own and it was, in hindsight, not a big deal work-wise. I will admit to being a little panicky during the process because, well, that was a lot of bees! I was much relieved when I saw the queen and knew that I had caught it in time. I don’t think it could have gone much faster if I’d have had help; but there would have been someone to hold the video camera . . .