Making Splits with the One Queen Keeper and a Double Screen Board

Making Splits with the One Queen Keeper and a Double Screen Board

Making splits is an important skill to master when establishing a sustainable apiary. Splits can develop into new colonies to offset winter losses, serve as resource hives for extra brood, a new queen, or additional food frames.

There are various methods for making splits, and my preferred approach involves using a double screen board with the One Queen Keeper!

I perform splits immediately after the peak nectar flow in late spring or early summer. If you've successfully prevented swarming, your colonies are likely large, and their primary nectar foraging is complete. Utilizing these bees to create an additional colony is an excellent option. However, don't delay, as waiting too long may result in splits struggling to survive their first winter.

So, how is it done? Firstly, you'll need to find or create a 5-frame double screen board. This board acts as a divider between boxes, making the bees above it believe they are queenless. It also provides an entrance for the bees in the upper boxes. The divider is typically 3/4 inch thick with drilled holes covered on each side with #8 hardware cloth.

Place the double screen board above the spacer box and below the exchange box on the one queen keeper. Transfer two frames of emerging or soon-to-emerge capped brood from the brood chamber, along with two frames of nectar/pollen, one frame of foundation or empty drawn comb, and finally, a shake or two of nurse bees. This provides the future colony with all it needs in that exchange box above the double screen board.

Don't forget—you still need a queen! Add a queen cell, a caged virgin, or a mated queen between the two brood frames. If unavailable, move a frame of eggs/young larvae above the double screen board so the bees can create a new queen, thinking they are queenless.

Once all brood has emerged, a frame of brood will yield enough bees to cover two frames. Two frames of brood and a shake or two of nurse bees will populate that nuc box with bees in about a month.

After about three to four weeks, inspect the exchange box above the double screen board. If you spot a new mated queen or evidence of her, congratulations, you have a new colony. The exchange box can be removed to form its own hive. If there's no sign of a new queen, remove the double screen board, allowing the bees to recombine before potentially turning into laying workers.

Making quality splits using the One Queen Keeper is a straightforward process. Give it a try and let us know if your methods with the double screen board differ from ours. We're always open to learning something new!


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