Can we multiply colonies by copying what happens in the natural environment?
Stingless bees wont abandon their current hive but can create a new independent colony by finding a new space and slowly building it up over months.
Dr Tobias Smith recently studied how bees create a new colony. He observed bees leaving one of his hives carrying resources which is a sign they were setting up a new colony somewhere. Toby found the bees setting up in a water meter near by and watched the bees building their colony over months. The bees travel back and forth building out the space, securing the area and then once ready a virgin queen flies across to the new colony.
This would be regarded as how stingless bees create a new colony naturally. To mimic this process we would be simply placing empty boxes randomly and hope the bees find them and decide they’re suitable for a new home. The chances of success for this method is very low, not impossible as people have said this has happened for them, but is very unlikely. Success rates could be increased by adding propolis or using a secondhand hive box so the bees might find it easier and be able to use the resources inside. Some might say that is still artificially multiplying colonies because it involves human assistance.
Splitting and Eduction are forms of managing bees by artificially multiplying colonies and is not what happens in nature.
Splitting is a very effective and quick way to multiply colonies and is the best known method used by the industry. Failures can usually be attributed to weak colonies being split or inexperienced beekeepers.
Eduction is growing in popularity in the community and is often claimed to be copying what happens in nature which isn’t correct. In nature the bees are free to travel to another location near by to build a new colony and the main colony isn’t effected in any way. By trying to create a new colony that is still attached to the main colony you’re increasing the risk of negative impacts to the main colony which doesn’t happen in the natural environment. Sure it can be successful and is one of the methods I use so I’m not against it, but it can’t be claimed to be copying nature as it’s still just a form of artificially multiplying colonies or managing bees.