Native Bee Splitting vs Native Bee Hive Duplication / Eduction : Which one is safer
When it comes to Splitting or Duplicating / Budding / Eduction its generally a personal preference. Some people are Pro Splitting, Some people are Pro Eduction , Some people dabble in both.
So whats Safer? put simply, BOTH in the hands of an experienced bee keeper. There are valid arguments for both methods.
Eduction is renowned for being more "Natural" - those that educt generally swear by it.
Splitting is more common, and been done for longer. those that split hives generally continue to split hives due to how quick the method is.
IN THE HANDS OF AN AMATEUR BOTH METHODS ARE HAZARDOUS TO BEES, can result in hive loss and bee injuries/deaths. It’s really that simple.
We at Ripley Valley Native Bee Hives have in the past ONLY done eductions to propagate native stingless bee hives.
If you have anything you would like to add to the following based on your own personal Experience in the field please Contact Us
What is Native Bee Hive Splitting
Splitting is the method of Propagating your hive, physically separating your hive directly in the middle, and creating 2 hives.
Splitting is not necessary, and your hive can NEVER BECOME TOO FULL, as we get asked this all the time. there is no such thing as a native stingless bee hive that is too full. once your colony fills the box, they will "divide" naturally, workers will fly off in search of a new location, and soon a princess will be sent off to colonise the new location after mating.
Splitting has traditionally been the method of choice for propagating stingless bee hives. due to a huge increase in demand, it’s the easiest way to double your hive count instantly to keep up with demand commercially.
Hive Splitting Pro's
- Instant - Splitting is an instant hard split, you will immediately have 2 colonies (sit them side by side - hive with top section full in old hives location, hive with bottom section full next to this)
- Double your hive count fast - easy simple way to turn your single hive into 2. that way within a while you will have a backup hive in case anything goes wrong, or even to try an eduction once its full
- Professional splitting services Available - Done by a professional, splitting can be clean, fast and effective with limited chance of hive failure or injury and harm to bees.
- Splitting is more common - Splitting has been done since 1980's so very common practice, and information is readily available. this is the benchmark for most native bee distributors.
- Research and development opportunities - Hives constructed with "splitting plates" have been shown to increase the safety of bees when splitting and result in fewer hive losses (our own research and a few other companies) , so if you are a novice, buy a hive with splitter PLATES not slump bars.you’ll be splitting cleanly and like a pro in no time.
- Standard Hives are Easy to Obtain - OATH standard hives for splitting are easy to obtain/make.
Hive Splitting Con's
- Failure to requeen - Probably the biggest Con of Hive Splitting is that you can have one half of the hive die out, simply because it has failed to requeen successfully after Splitting. this can result in a complete colony loss. you need to allow mating swarms to take effect, DO NOT assume your hive is under attack and be tempted to capture the swarm, i have seen many people try to capture a swarm in the weeks following a hive split, and they do nothing but aid in the failure of their hive to re queen and ultimately help it along to its death.
- Risk of Introduced Pests - When you Split or for that matter tamper with any hive, the bees release a pheromone to let the colony know they are under attack/stress. Phorid fly seem to pickup on this, and also the honey and pollen spill and can invade a hive very fast, they are very apt at moving swiftly past guard bees and into a hive, they then begin laying small (pin head size) eggs, the larvae destroy everything and the result is a sludgy sour mess. Syphid Fly also smell the sweet honey smell, and begin hovering around a freshly split hive, they will lay eggs in the seams of a hive, and the larvae will enter the hive. the result is the same, a sludgy mess in no time. YOU MUST TAPE ALL SEAMS IF YOU SPLIT A HIVE. Also narrow the entry on the hives with some propolis, the bees will open it right up once they are fit and healthy.
- Honey Spill - In the hands of an amateur splitting can result in a poor split, and lots of honey spillage. resulting in unneeded pests. NEVER EVER split a hive if you don’t know what you are doing, I suggest going to a few clinics, there are a few companies in Brisbane who do native bee hive splitting days, learn from people who split hives all the time, learn the correct methods of hive splitting and limit your risk
- You can only split a hive once a year - Splitting is generally done as soon as the days start warming up - October onward till around March - April. You can only split a native bee hive once a year, otherwise the colony halves will be to small and they will fail as a result.
- Hives need to be the same size - When you split a hive you ultimately need the same size hive dimensions as the once your splitting - so if you have an odd shaped hive, or dimensions are not the "Standard" you will have a misaligned, misshapen hive in the end
What is Hive Duplication / Eduction / Budding
Native Bee hive Duplication, also known as Budding or Eduction is a relatively new practice. originally discovered by Tom Carter, and further developed by John Klumpp.
Eduction is basically the practice of forcing one colony (mother hive) through an empty Hive (daughter hive), the result is building of a new completely active colony.
Eductions can take time though, and bees work to their own schedule. there are things you can do to speed the process along. and we have mastered the art of hive duplication, because it’s our only method of hive propagation that we use. We have an Eduction guide Here Should you like to give eduction a try.
Hive Eduction Pros
- Natural - Eduction is a perfectly natural way of propagating a hive. they will either build a new daughter colony, or refuse, its really that simple.
- Educational - Eduction is a fantastic way to understand the inner workings, and the life spans of the Native Bees...during the process you will see bees of all ages, initially you will see the older bees foraging and bringing back supplies, they some younger bees will move in to begin building structure, and finally, you will see firstly a princess, then with good luck you will spot your new queen tending to her brood. It’s fantastic to watch and get the kids involved.
- Low Risk of Pests - Pests rarely are an issue for eductions, this is not saying that it doesn’t happen, but in our experience it is rare. Some reports we have heard are that Phorid fly are rampant atm, we just don't see that on our farm. as there is no honey or pollen spill, pests generally aren't attracted to an eduction.
- Hive Design - eduction does not require a hive to match the mother hive, if you can buy it or make one, you can duplicate a hive via the eduction method
- More Than one Eduction Per Year - Unlike splitting you can do more than one eduction per year, and with a really healthy mother hive you can do around 3...its always best to give a short (60 days) break if you do eductions back to back...they need to build the mother hives strength and reserves too dont forget
Hive Eduction Con's
- Timely Process - Eduction takes months and in some cases Years (we have never seen an eduction take this long). Not minutes like splitting a hive does, so if your Impatient, Eduction may not work for you
- Operator Error - One of the biggest failings with eduction is the operator being impatient. you wont speed thing us by look at your eduction daily, and alot of our experience has seen operators unhooking an eduction far too early...once you see brood being layed, YOU NEED TO DISCONNECT in 50-60 days (the lay to hatch timeline) this reduces lag in lay - hatch ratio.
- Need a Full hive - Its very important to understand not every log or hive can be used for an eduction. logs in particular are hit and miss, you may think its a huge active hive, but inside may be a very small cavity, with very little room for size....you need a large, HEALTHY hive for eduction to be firstly FAST and secondly Successful.
- Constant Monitoring required - Eduction in the later stages requires constant (weekly) monitoring, to ensure success, making sure the mother hive hasnt blocked off the entry to the daughter hive is paramount, if they block it off, the mother hive can starve out and eventually deplete its stores. you also need to monitor the daughter hive to check for brood development, then set an alarm and disconnect approx 50-60 days later, otherwise the mother hive may kill off the new queen, and the process virtually comes to a grinding halt until a new mated queen is acquired. This can be devastatingly difficult if it occurs.
- Less Information available - Eduction has far fewer readable step by step process guides than splitting does, so getting that information has been very difficult until now. We have a Step By Step Guide to Eduction Here.
Splitting vs Duplication is always a personal choice and quite a touchy subject, you can make up your own mind, as we have done, so long as your focus is on bee health and reducing harm in the process we see very little difference in either practice.
We do trial our own hives and products to make splitting easier, cleaner, and to reduce harm, ensuring the best possible outcome.
There is a lot of discussion in the industry around splitting vs Eduction. with the overwhelming Eduction Method movement being heard loud and clear. We do not begrudge anyone who splits hives, in fact all of our hives are manufactured to Enable SAFE splitting of hives. We just choose eduction over splitting due to the potential in our opinion being greater for harm. This does not mean we are right and others are wrong, it’s just our ethical choice AT THIS TIME, that may one day change with research and development.
Either Practice can result in bee harm in the wrong hands, it is up to us to seek out the proper training and information to make an informed decision.
Trevor Smith - Ripley Valley Native Bee Hives
Dr Tim Heard - Sugarbag Bees - Sugarbag.net