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A Different Way to Split a Hive

There’s plenty of ways to split a hive:
Last Wednesday while taking honey frames to extract I noticed one hive with the lid half full of bees doing nothing. I had no honey to remove from that hive. I didn’t have time to check on the brood then on account of a lot of recent rain made the bees hungry. Therefore I couldn’t leave the honey frames sitting around very long.

It’s been raining on & off since then, it’s Saturday afternoon now. With a break in the weather, I went to return stickies. With the lid full of bees in mind, I took a brood box with me. I also remembered that I had to check on 2 splits to see if they are queen right.

After returning the stickies, I had 3 left. I quickly removed the lid to find it still half full of bees. I placed it on the ground upside down. Then I quickly checked the first split to discover it to be queen right. I shook the bees off the first brood frame I found before placing it over the bees in the lid. Did the same with the second split. Then I removed 3 honey frames covered in bees from the hive the lid came from, placed them in the brood box. Then one by one I placed the brood frames covered in bees into the brood box before finding 5 other frames to fill the gap before closing it up in readiness to bring home.

The last thing I had to do was replace the 3 honey frames with the 3 remaining stickies. Then come home.

I have no idea if the colony was preparing to swarm or not. With more rain threatening, I didn’t feel like getting into the brood of a strong colony. If they were thinking about swarming, the removal of all those bees should go a long way towards making them change their mind. My theory being that the bees in the lid would make up a lot of the numbers in the swarm.


Maybe you should start a thread listing all the ways to split a hive Jeff. I’d certainly find it useful, and I think so do others.


Hi Zzz, thanks, I may have already started it.

After sleeping on it I realize that the colony will still swarm if it had fully formed swarm cells in the brood box. The weather’s a lots better today, I plan on going down to check on the brood just to make sure there’s none.

This method works well with a cranky hive because you’re removing a lot of bees without disturbing the brood. On top of that you’re giving them different brood to make a new queen from. You can keep doing that until the cranky hive is down to a nuc size. At that point it’ll be much easier to find & dispatch the queen.


I returned home a few minutes ago. The colony had been preparing to swarm so I removed 6 of the 9 brood frames, replacing them with fully drawn comb as well as fresh foundation. I used the brood frames minus the queen cells to bolster other colonies, including replacing the brood frames in the 2 nucs I took brood frames from yesterday.

I noticed one fully formed queen cell, however a closer look revealed a hole in the side with a dead grub inside. Whether they were starting to abort the swarm preparations with all the rain around, I’ll never know.

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