I inspected one of my hives at Barwon Heads yesterday (15/8/16) and it was strong. 3 boxes each with brood. Some capped honey and plenty of uncapped. Several drones on every comb and lots of sealed drone cells. So the season has well and truly started. Last year this same hive came out of winter booming and I did a pre-emptive split on 24th August to stop it from swarming (how's that for record keeping!). Both daughter colonies did well and produced lots of honey, so I'm claiming I got it right.
The answer to your question is it depends on the individual colony. Before you split, you want them strong, pretty well filling 2 boxes so that both resulting halves are not too weak. But preferably you don't want to leave it so long that they decide to swarm, in which case you are either performing an artificial swarm or collecting them from the trees.
In other words, you really need to start inspecting from now on. We went through a few more hives today and some were building up nicely and some not quite so advanced.
Hope this helps. We are tackling swarm prevention at the Beginners Corner this Thursday and will also address it at the September meeting.
i had a look in the two of my hives that that have burst into life and I am ready to split these as well. I have fed them a small pollen patty each and will give them some 1:1 sugar syrup on the weekend to encourage growth of comb and laying of brood and split as soon as we get more good weather.
I have some good queens on order, but will do a walk away split with my nasty feral hive and hope that the new queen mates with drones from one of my pure bred colonies to breed some of the agro out of that colony .... but retain half of the genetics of the productive queen.
I have moved my girls down to a farm where they grow cut flowers in spring, and lots of vegetables on neighbouring properties so I am hoping for a big season. If I don't split the really busy (nasty) hive ..... I will have to put a honey super up in a week or so, they don't appear to have scratched the surface of the food in the three boxes that I left them with during the winter packdown.
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