Inside A Native Bee Hive
The process of breeding bees is called splitting a hive. Your hive is like two hollow shoe boxes stacked on top of each other. The contents of the hive contains 3 main parts, the brood, honey cells and pollen cells. The brood chamber which is a magnificent swirl of thousands of small cells about the size of small match heads is where the queen will lay her larvae.
The brood chamber is about the size of a large mango and sits in the centre of the hive. Surrounding the brood chamber are hundreds of honey and pollen cells that are randomly placed in the cavity of the hive. These cells are about the size of small grapes.
Native Bee Hives
The native bees only produce about 1 kg of sugarbag honey, which has a distinct bush flavour. Harvesting of the honey is not essential to the wellbeing of the hive, just an added bonus. The bees take about 12-18 months to fill the hive with honey and after this period you can split the hive.
Splitting A Native Bee Hive
When you split a hive ideally half of the brood should remain in each half of the box. If you find that there was not an even split of brood, close the hive and try again in 2-3 weeks. The bees always have emergency queen cells in the brood – a new queen will be generated for which ever half of the hive doesn’t have a queen.
1 – Using a hive splitting tool carefully pry the hive apart in the join of the two halves , have your empty hive close by when splitting.
2 – You will hear a crack which is the breaking of the protective seal inside the hive that the bees have created. Clean around the seals of the hive with your splitting tool, drain of any broken honey cells into a tray.
3 – A full top will then be given to the empty bottom and the full bottom will be then given to the empty top. It is advisable to use strapping around the hive to help reseal the hive.
4 – When splitting the hive always clean up spilt honey to avoid grubs invading the hive and destroying it, a good idea is to wrap the join with glad wrap or sticky tape to prevent insects laying grubs in the join.
5 – Do not cover the entrance with glad wrap. If possible leave the top of the split hive in the original position and only move the bottom split hive as it is more stable.
6 – Avoid splitting the hive in hot weather as occasionally the top may drop down because of soft wax caused by hot days. You now have 2 hives working in your garden or you can gift a hive too friends or family.