Topbar Beekeeping

I'm an urban topbar beekeeper in Albuquerque, NM. I manage hives in backyards and small organic farms within city limits. These hives are probably pollinating your veggie patches right now. Visit my website at:



Ok, here is the story on my splits for my rock star hive. I don't know if this is the official way to do splits, but I think every beekeeper has there own way to do this. This season, I'm concentrating on making bees and not honey. To do this, I split the hive up... into 4 different hives. Greece turned into Iceland, Monaco and Croatia.

SPLIT 1- just for fun
At the end of March, I opened up my hive (Greece) and discovered that the drones (the fellas) were starting to emerge from their cocoons. Since you can't have babies without the men, I thought this would be a good time to start thinking about splitting this hive. I took 3 combs full of brood (babies) of different ages, all the bees hanging on and 1 comb of honey and put this in a new hive (Croatia). The bees hanging on are mostly nurse bees and they have never left the hive so they don't know where Greece is. They only know Croatia and will stick with their homeland. The bees can make any newly formed larvae (4-5 days old babies) into a queen. It takes 16 days for her majesty to totally form and after 2 weeks of chewing my nails, I peaked in and saw the virgin queen. She had a really short abdomen like a cross between a drone and a worker bee. Today, I looked in the hive and discovered that she has been laying eggs. Hurrah! Success!

SPLIT 2- the swarm breaker
2 weeks after the initial split, I peaked in the hive and noticed swarm cells. This means that even though there is a queen, this hive wants to raise another and make a new colony. Instead of letting them swarm, I made split number 2. I took 3 combs of brood, 1 comb of honey, all the bees hanging on and the queen and put them into a new hive (Iceland). Greece was left without a queen, but has all the workforce in the world and queen cells to raise a new queen.

SPLIT 3- the screw up
This split is way complicated and is a result of a screw up on my part. I'm a notorious second guesser and fiddler. I decided to give Croatia (the first split hive) another comb of brood to increase their workforce after I saw the virgin queen. Big surprise when I discovered that the bees decided to make queen cells on this new comb of brood. I guess it makes sense since the virgin queen wasn't laying eggs. Anyway, not wanting to waste some good queen cells, I decided to make a "mixed orientation" split. I made a new hive (Monaco) by adding the queen cell and brood comb from Croatia with comb from Greece and Iceland. If you mix bees together from 2 different colonies it's like a ferocious cage match, but if you mix bees from a lot of different sources, it's like New York and everybody gets along great.

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