Golden Opportunity

This is splitting/ swarm control season across the state. I recently found a colony with queen cells in progress, and what looked like 50% drones among the adult bees, making it impossible to find the queen. This is no longer a stressful situation, since the Reverse Doolittle (or Fool-Proof Split) written about previously in this column, makes it so easy to quickly perform a no-problem split in a very populous colony. I won’t re-write it here, since you can go back and read it, but did want to draw your attention to the fact that this type of split affords you the golden opportunity to do mite control with Oxalic acid on both parts of the split, dropping mites just when their populations are really climbing along with the burgeoning bee population.

As you recall, oxalic acid should only be used when there are no brood cappings in the colony, since it doesn’t penetrate the cappings, and since a minimum of 75% of reproductive mites are under cappings at any one time. Since in the Fool-Proof Split, we put the open brood in the box with the queen, an oxalic acid treatment can be done soon after the split (a day or two later). The capped brood that was left in the parent colony at the original location will all emerge before the new queen is finished mating. A little more time for her to start laying well, and before the new larvae get capped leads us to do the OA treatment on this colony on about day 30 after the split.

Thanks to Journeyman candidate Eric Nudelman for this easy-to-read calendar of events…

Here’s a timeline for what is happening in the parent colony, with action items.

Day 1: Nothing happens

Day 2: The bees start Queen with 4 day old larvae; Do OA treatment on new colony

Day 7: Inspect both colonies, queen and eggs in new, capped Q cells in parent

Day 12: add sheet of open brood to queenless box – this could prevent a laying worker situation

Day 14: Queen emerges

Day 20-23: Queen mates

Day 21: worker brood emerges

Day 24: drone brood emerges

Day 25-27: Queen starts laying

Day 26-33: This is the zone for OA treatment,  ~30 days

Day 34: new brood gets capped