The goal of this management system is to build a strong "three storey" daughter colony for over-wintering that can be split the following spring into 2 units. This system was presented as an effective system of perennial colony management; being geared toward ensuring colonies with young queens survives through winter.
In this system, colonies that over-winter are maintained in three deep brood boxes. The following spring the wintered colony becomes the parent colony. This is divided by removing one of the brood boxes, leaving the queen in the other two. A new queen is then introduced into the divide. The objective is to ensure the new split occupies three deep brood boxes by the following fall, in order that it survives the following winter, and as a result, the parent colony becomes the honey producing colony. This should have a 1-year old queen that came through the previous winter. Once honey is harvested this parent colony is "de-populated", which is a rather ugly euphemism for being "killed off". This all seems a bit harsh given the parent colony has been the giver" of the year's honey. Anyway, how does one "de-populate"? Well, the simple suggestion is to shake the bees out of their hive on a cold day! Nasty.
But why would we do this? Well, there are advantages...
- A young vigorous queen is maintained in each colony,
- Re-Queening is done at a favourable time,
- Swarming problems are negligible,
- The productivity per unit is increased,
- The honey required for over wintering is halved,
- wintering success is significantly increased, and
- Repair, recycling and replacement of combs and equipment is possible.
I suppose the bees are going to die anyway, and an old colony is susceptible to health problems. Plus, a colony with a young queen is more likely to be resistant to disease and infestation. So, by maintaining healthier young stock we should be reducing the chances of disease and infestation problems taking hold in an area, or even spreading.