Managing Colonies after the honey flow....by Lloyd Harris.

That's the title of a project jointly funded by SBDC, SBA/ADOPT, and Syngenta Canada and conducted by Lloyd Harris and members of the Regina Bee Club this past summer.

The research project focused on ways of using the thousands of excess bees that honey bee colonies contain in late August every year to make new colonies. The thought was that by making new colonies at the end of the honey flow when locally reared queens are available that it should be possible to produce enough colonies to replace winter colony losses in the fall.

The colonies were split into a mother colony with the old queen and a daughter colony with a newly mated queen. They took 18 colonies and made them into 36 colonies. The colonies were then fed, wrapped and wintered outside. In the spring 5 of the 36 colonies had died during the winter from "cold starvation" or Nosema. In April, 6 more colonies were determined to be queenless. These colonies had either became queenless during winter or in April before the colonies were permanently unwrapped. The remaining 25 colonies produced 5,253 pounds of honey.

Splitting the colonies in the fall allowed the beekeeper to cover potential winter colony loss and to have some additional colonies that could be sold or kept for honey production. The split colonies produced about 782.4 more pounds of honey than would have been produced by these colonies had not been split in August. The split colonies averaged 210 pounds per colony based on 25 colonies or 291.9 pounds per colony if you base the average on the original 18 colonies.

Even better results are possible by feeding more sugar syrup in the fall, placing all the honey in the top super, controlling Nosema infections and requeening all the colonies instead of leaving colonies to winter with queens of unknown age.

The results were so promising that more colonies were split in half at the end of the honey flow to see if similar results would be possible if colonies were not split until 30 August. If these colonies survive the winter, beekeepers may be able to split colonies during the last 2 weeks of August and have acceptable results.

Making new colonies after mid-August to replace those that die every year during winter looks promising!


International Code for Marking Queens

White  Yellow  Red  Green  Blue
2016 / 2021 2017 / 2022 2013 / 2018 2014 / 2019 2015 / 2020
 1/6  2/7  3/8  4/9  5/0
 When  You  Re-Queen  Get the  Best
 Warned  You  Require  Gloves  Be