Hive Splitting: Growing Our Honeybees
Part Two in our series, Beekeeping 101.
Honeybee populations naturally rise and fall with the seasons, peaking in summer and bottoming out in winter.
As beekeepers what matters more to us is the number of hives, or colonies, in our apiary. With more hives we can grow more honey for Rogue Farms mead, kolsch, braggot and soda. To grow more hives, we split the ones we already have.
What Is Hive Splitting?
When we split our hives, we remove about half the honeybees along with the queen, and move them to a new location on the farm. The split hive will form two new colonies.
Honeybees do this naturally on their own, it’s called swarming. By splitting hives we have a say on when and where they go.
How Do You Split A Hive?
Timing is crucial. We’ve just wrapped up the spring nectar flow at Rogue Farms and our honeybees are well fed. By the time we’re done hive splitting, the summer nectar flow begins. Our honeybees will have an abundance of wild berries, wildflowers and our crops of Dream Pumpkins, Marionberries and Jalapeños waiting for them as they gather the pollen and nectar they need to produce honey.
If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ll know that US beekeepers lost 42% of their colonies from April 2014 to April 2015. While beekeepers can make up for some of that by splitting their hives, no one in the business believes these kinds of losses are sustainable.
At Rogue Farms, we do our part by sending our honeybees south during the winter to avoid the chilly and wet Oregon air, by planting a diverse group of crops for them to forage and pollinate, and by planting wildflowers just for our honeybees so they have even more sources of pollen and nectar.
Our honeybees take care of us by producing the honey we use in our beers and sodas. So we do our best to take care of them.
It’ll be a few more days before our Beekeeper Andrew is done splitting our hives. Come out to Rogue Farms and you may still have time to see Andrew at work as he helps us Grow The Revolution.