Six months ago, I did my first solo native bee hive split. The thing that dawned on me was that hive placement was really important. The weakest hive needs to be where the original (now split) used to be placed. That way, the foragers return to the new weak hive (bottom only). I now have two hives.
I recently split a hive that was swarming. Yep - in mid-winter. By bee wisdom, it was a mistaken thing to do. The swarm wasn't the mating swarm that I feared, nor a swarm that was leaving the hive (those will have pollen on their legs to create a food source for the new location - it was a defensive swarm). I now have three hives: two split and one not.
None-the-less, the split was done and it went quite well. However, I still had (defensive) swarming bees. I also had two hives with very few bees. Things were actually looking grim. I ended up talking to Dean from Native Bee Rescue and Education Sunshine Coast. Great bloke.
We both like to keep our hives together. A split hive won't fight with itself. In fact, the bees will happily share. Dean doesn't actually split his nowadays - but more about that later.
My answer was this, and it seems to be working a treat!: the unsplit, defensively swarming hive went farthest away. The new splits were placed where the original two hives were. I'm happy to report, there is lots of bees on both new splits now. The robust, unsplit hive has much fewer bees but still a reasonable amount of activity and given that it hasn't been split, I'm not worried about it.
Here is the lesson: I now have one hive in three locations. The defensive swarm and foragers are happy to tend the hives in the original locations. There's enough bees in the unsplit hives to keep it happy. Split natives will act as one hive - put the weakest hives in the original locations. The bees will do the rest.
Ok, thanks Andy.. I just saw your YouTube post and I can see why you were concerned! All those dead bees! I Am yet to do my first split yet, but I will definitely keep all this in mind..