Back in February I decided to do some early splits of three very strong hives. The results: 1 hive perished almost immediately, while three survived the unusual spate of cold snaps we suffered and, as of April 10 when I checked, seem to be going strong.
All of these splits were "walk-away" splits; meaning I went through the strong hives, picked out at least three frames of brood (all ages, most importantly some eggs or larva less than 3 days old), another three or four frames of food, the remainder in foundation frames, loaded them all into a new deep, and shook a mess of nurse bees in. It appears I got lucky and the surviving hives each raised a queen by feeding royal jelly to the eggs all the way through the larval stage (instead of stopping after three days, as they would with worker brood). And my luck held, it seems, as each of the queens successfully completed a mating flight and returned to the hive to start laying eggs.
The sage just started to bloom this past weekend, so this Friday I'm going to super all the hives for honey flow. Woo hooo!
I'm also starting to get swarm calls, although the bulk have been out of my area so far. I'm sure I will soon be collecting some swarms and adding to my second beeyard, one I established (which now only has two hives) at a neighboring ranch.
Finally, I had to remove both of the hives I had in the Community Garden. When I split one of the hives the original bees became very ornery and defensive, and caused a lot of problems for the gardeners. I moved them, but was prevented by bad weather and other issues from moving the second hive for a few weeks. Evidently one of the gardeners ran a roto-tiller near the hive for an extended period, and they eventually got fed up and came after him. So, I went out last Saturday night and moved that hive back to my home yard as well. Both of these hives seem to have adjusted well, and the bigger garden hive (the one I split) has a tremendous supply of garden honey going into the flow, so they've got a great head start.
With all the rain, I'm hoping for a really strong flow this spring and lots of production from all the hives.