honeybees working a frame
New Brood on a split hive frame
© Wayne Davids

Successful Hive Split!

Against the advice of most experienced beekeepers (I know, I know, listen to the advice) I split both of my first year hives since they were doing so well. I did Hera Hive first, followed 9 days later by Persephone Hive. It was late July for the first split (23rd) and then August 1 for the second split. Both of my original hives were packed with bees and I decided to give it a try.

Both splits started well initially, however I did lose the first one, the Hera split. They were doing well, I was feeding them, and suddenly they just crashed. I failed to realize it until too late, but the original hives were robbing the weaker two. The forage bees from the split loaded up on honey and sugar water from the feeder, took it back to the parent hive, and then showed all the other workers where the free meal was located. Things were great, until they weren’t and I did not recognie the robbing behavior until it was too late for that first split. When I opened the split I found numerous dead bees in the bottom, the brood hatched out, and the resources pilfered.

When I realized what was happening I moved the remaining split hive across the yard, as far away as possible, from the original two hives and reduced the entrance to the smallest opening possible. I then took one more frame of brood from the stronger hives and bolstered the fledgling split with more bees to hatch. The moment those bees hatch, despite being initially from another hive, they will consider the new hive home which means they won’t migrate back to the old queen. 

I kept my fingers crossed for several weeks, checking the hive regularly from the outside, but only opening it to replace a pint feeder jar I had housed in an empty medium deep honey-super over the frames of brood. On August 24th I opened the hive, inspected for the first time, and was delighted to see open brood and eggs in the new hive. 

They successfully raised a queen and she was now laying. My first shot at splitting hives and I am batting .500. That being said I won’t try a late season split again like that until I am much more comfortable with my bees. I got lucky, and I know it. If I hadn’t been doing daily exterior inspections of my hives and recognized that the stronger hives were robbing the weaker, then I would’ve lost both of them and a lot of bees would’ve been wasted. Instead I did get one more hive out of it and it still has two months of nectar flow from grasses and late flowers. In addition, I do plan to feed them through the fall to bolster their numbers.

Next year I hope to do some splits again, but in the spring when the bees are naturally pre-disposed to swarming. Since the split replicates a swarm, to the hive, it seems more natural to me. Also, since the springtime is a nectar rich time, the bees are far less interested in robbing or stealing each other’s honey. With this being my first year I wasn’t ready for how fast a honey robbing situation happens. But now I recognize the behavior at the entrance to the hive since I have seen it first hand.

Included below are pictures of uncapped brood, eggs, and the bees steadily getting honey ready on the edges of a frame in anticipation of the queen laying brood in the middle.

Uncapped Brood

Newly capped and uncapped honeybee brood
Uncapped brood dots the frame and the small larvae can be seen inside as the nurse bees attend to them. © Wayne Davids



& Some More

multiple uncapped brood cells in a honeybee hive
Multiple uncapped cells in a new, split, honeybee hive. © Wayne Davids
Honeybee frame ready for queen to lay eggs on
This frame was drawn previously in the parent hive & I used it in the split. While waiting for the new queen to emerge the workers dutifully packed the corners with honey & left the center open for her to lay eggs
© Wayne Davids
Honeybee comb with difficult to see newly laid eggs
More hive comb just started to be re-populated by the new queen. The right side has eggs in many of the cells, but they are hard to see here.
© Wayne Davids

Finally in the above two pictures you can see the empty frame I took from the parent hive when I split them. It had contained capped brrod, but most had hatched. I took the empty drawn frame and stuck it in the new hive so they had a jumpstart on some frames. While waiting for the queen to hatch they packed it with resources and got it ready to receive eggs.

The bottome picture is a frame being worked after just having had eggs laid on it. The lower right side has some eggs visible, but I apologize they are hard to see. They will be capped once the nurse bees take care of preparing the new egg to grow and develop.

Thanks for sharing in this with me – hopefully my next post will involve harvesting at least a wee bit o’ honey.

Until next time-
Wayne Davids

Wayne Davids stuck tractor

Initial Site

Site Work - Wayne Davids Apiary
My ditch before I started widening & deepening




Site Work Wayne Davids Apiary
In progress




Site work Wayne Davids Apiary
Finished water retention area to improve drainage & provide convenient water for bees


site work wayne davids apiary
Finished water retention area, different angle


Wayne Davids – My Apiary (Part II)

Welcome back, I’m Wayne Davids and this is the first step in my Beekeeping journey. My first problem I ran into was the extremely wet, low, area I wanted to place my hives. We have hard clay soil and it has very poor drainage, multiple rains would leave it a muddy mess for weeks at a time. I have very limited choices for my hive location since my wife is pathologically terrified of bees. Not allergic mind you, just terrified. We needed to come to an agreement on getting the bees and where they would be located. The back corner of the property was the spot, but it can be very muddy.

In March 2020 I began widening a small ditch (far left picture) that ran the length of the back property line to widen and deepen it so that it will hold more water. I then graded and smoothed the excavated dirt to raise the surrounding area in order to allow it to drain better. The final result was acceptable; a twenty foot by sixty foot enlarged ditch that is about a meter deep most of the way throughout (right hand picture). The dirt that came out was spread and smoothed to create several swales and fill in low areas so the water would drain into the newly expanded ditch “pond”.

I have included some pictures below, and you are free to chuckle at me getting the tractor stuck several times, once having to wait a day or two for the ground to firm up before being able to pull it out with a pick-up truck. Nevertheless the end result works for me and it provides a natural catch that the bees would need later in the season when the temperatures soared and the hive can be consuming a liter or more of water per day.

site work wayne davids apiary
Fun in the mud – stuck tractor
site work Wayne Davids Apiary
More clay coated tires



The second part of my site preparation involved having ‘stands’ or bases for the hives to sit on. Hives should ideally be around 18 inches off the ground. This elevates the hive entrance to reduce entry by mice or insects but also keeps the hive dry, makes an easy landing and take-off the bees, helps keep out larger predators like skunks, and finally is a good height for the poor beekeeper to be moving heavy boxes on and off the hive which can easily weigh fifty pounds or more.

Wayne Davids "Hera" Hive 2021
Current Hera Hive with two supers and two deep brood boxes – and while it is leaning in the picture, I fixed that afterwards and adjusted the hive on the cinderblocks

For myself, I used cinderblocks as stands. One stand had 2 courses (16 inches) and one stand has 3 courses (24 inches) so I could get an idea of what worked best for me since I am 73″ tall (185.4 cm). What I found was, that at the beginning of the season, when I only had one brood box, the taller stand made for much easier work since I had far less bneding over. Now, however, I have two deep brood boxes and two honey supers. With a 24 inch stand the hive is getting tall, close to my shoulders. This becomes difficult to work with the boxes since they are almost at eye-level.

Next year I intend to doule stack cinder blocks (16 inches) and then lay 2 paralled 4×4 (actually 3.5″ square) posts across them as I have since seen done. This will put the hives 19.5 inches off the ground. High enough to keep out pests, but still low enough to manage.

Both hives shown on pavers and cinderblocks
Hives shown on cinderblock hive stands and leveled pavers.

Finally, I had several slabs that used to be walking stones on the side of our house when we bought it in 2009. I removed them, but being one of those people who hates to throw things away, I kept them stacked on the edge of the property. They paid off as bases to stack the cinderblocks on after I leveled them. It is important to keep the hives as level as possible since bees orient their comb vertically. Hives that are tilted or slanted can end up with a mess inside as the bees try to build their comb on the vertical inside a tilted box.

My next installment will talk about the arrival of the bees. Both my hives came from local beekeepers so I didn’t receive either through the mail. 

Thanks for reading. I hope you are enjoying my journey.

All images © Wayne Davids


raw, local, unpasteurized honey



Setting up

Site Work




Placing bees

Maintaining their health

Extracting honey


Starting my own apiary has been a dream for many years, one I intended to pursue in 2020. Then 2020 arrived, and everything that came along with it. I decided, however, that 2021 would not get away from me, and so in the fall of 2020 as well as winter 0f 2020-2021 I began purchasing equipment and materials needed to pursue this dream. In addition to the bees, and hives, there are is a surprising amount of gear needed and I have had a huge learning curve from the beginning. Over the next few months I am going to share my experiences here, and what I have learned. It has been an overwhelmingly positive experience and I am thrilled to be experiencing it and living it. 

The simple honeybee Apis mellifera pollinates approximately 80% of the world’s crops, and it is in dramatic decline. A world without honeybees is a world that will struggle to feed it’s almost 8 billion person population, even more than it does now. For that reason, and others, I started my small apiary, in my small corner, to help honeybees have a fighting chance against a host of environmental, social, parasitic, and chemical factors that endanger it’s continued existence.
All images © Wayne Davids


bees on a frame producing brood


hive brood boxes & honey supers


yours truly in a bee-jacket

bees on a frame producing honey


bees with partially capped honey