When you take a split, do you let the bees raise their own queen or do you order in a new queen?
So if you do want nice gentle genetics, then it's a good idea to order in a queen from a queen breeder. That way, you'll get new genetics and you can ask for nice, gentle, productive, ideally hygienic as well, genetics for your queen. If you just split, it'll be a bit of a wild card. If you let them naturally raise their own queen, she might mate with rascal drones from down the road and you get some more aggression. It really does make a difference. Some hives are so calm that you don't even need a smoker or a suit, but some are really quite wild.
How often do you have to split your hives?
Not often. One split in a season would be enough to drastically reduce the swarming triggers, unless you have particularly swarming genetics. You just get bees sometimes that no matter how hard you try, they want to swarm. But mostly if you take a split from a hive, it'll take them the majority of the honey flow for them to build back up. And that will really reduce any swarming tendencies. And if you are splitting in spring at the moment when they are preparing to swarm, you might even notice they're already preparing queen cells, so you can put them straight into the split and that way you've also limited it.
How do you stop the brood from one hive from going into the others? Do bees go into each other's hives?
They do a little bit. It's called drift. So bees will drift from one hive to the next, but ideally you're trying to get them not to do that. Really if you want no drift at all, you need to spread your hives 10 metres apart. Because bees do GPS-locate to that spot. So if you move that hive away, you'll notice so many bees coming back to that original position where the hive was, because they really lock onto it. However, when bees come back with almost their body weight in nectar and pollen and it's a little bit windy, they might get blown down the row a bit and go, "this will do, I don't care anymore." And they'll just end up in this hive down here and that's called drift.
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