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Bees, their Bee Neighbors, and Sharing Resources


I realized I don’t understand how bees handle the following things…

  • Swapping a frame from one hive to another.
  • Moving bees from one hive to another.

My inexperienced understanding is that bees only want to be around their queen, and I assume that if you take a bee (or a whole frame of bees) out of one hive and put it into another, that the newly introduced bees will immediately fight the bees in the new hive. Is that correct?

However, I have seen videos of apiaries making packages and nucs, and they seem to be grabbing bees from everywhere and throwing them together with little concern about them fighting. Shouldn’t this process be starting the Bee equivalent of world war 3?

Also, I often read about people suggesting they bolster one hive by introducing a comb full of brood from another hive. What happens to the bees covering that frame during the transfer? Do they die? Do they fall in love with the new queen? Are you supposed to brush off as many bees as possible before the transfer?

Can you take bees from one hive and move them to another to help bolster the hive, or to keep from wasting bees in a queenless colony? Does bulk bee transplanting only work if the originating hive is queenless?

Thanks in advance! I want to get my head wrapped around this so I can devise a backup plan in case one of my hive runs into issues.


Lorne, thank you for this post!! All these details are only somewhat clear to me as well. I’m eager to hear from our resident experts :nerd_face:


I’m not sure about the transfer of bees to other hives or the making up of nucs, but @JeffH has a video about using frames of bees to bolster weaker hives.
Regarding using frames of brood to boost a colony you shake all the bees back into their original hive before you put the brood frame into their new hive. Sometimes their will be a few who want to stay, but I’ve found if I put it aside from the hive a little way for a few minutes they will leave the frame & go back to their hive.


It depends. If the bees are pretty mellow and you use a lot of smoke, you can often get away with it.

If you take several frames from several different hives (3 or more) and use them to build a nuc, often there isn’t much fighting. I think nurse bees generally don’t want to fight, they just want to look after the brood and do their other hive jobs. If you mix enough different smells at once, and use smoke, it doesn’t usually result in a Bee-mageddon.

If the receiving hive is very weak, I don’t shake off the nurse bees. If I did, the receiving hive may not be able to care of the brood - not enough workers to do it. Bees can usually adapt quite quickly to the pheromones of a new queen. If they didn’t, packages, commercial nucleus production and mass queen breeding would never work, because the split bees would never accept a new queen.

You can if you use a newspaper merge. Put a double layer of newspaper on top of the recipient colony, then put the queenless bees in a box of frames on top. Usually by the time they have eaten through the newspaper, they have forgotten what the queen is supposed to smell like and they will accept and be accepted by the receiving hive. If the donor hive has laying workers in it, I would prefer to add a frame of brood to the laying worker hive until they make a queen. If you don’t do that, the laying workers can be very aggressive towards a queen. Even a newspaper merge is risky.

Hope that helps. Others will have different ideas. They are all worth considering. Keep asking questions! :smile:


Lorne n others,

Don’t sweat the small stuff ! With time beefing up a weak hive with another strong hive solid brood frame will be like falling off a log.

Last year was my first season back after 55 years away. Things are really rusty n unclear after all those years. But I asked a lot of question, practiced, even screwed up some … It was all a learning experience. I’ve also been working with a commercial beekeeper too … I’ve gained a lot of knowledge doing that.

Last year I did splits, combine hives, made up two Nuc’s, n beefed up weaker colonies. I lost one swarm, caught a wild swarm, lost hives to varroa mites n so on. Not always been positive but always a learning experience.

Don’t give up the ship … It takes time to be a seasoned beekeeper. I’m still working on that one but not afraid to try new methods n ideas. I’m glad for several advanced members on here n a local mentor to helping me.

Better get back to helping my wife now ! Take care everyone !



Finally, NOW I know what I’m supposed to do with my newspaper!! :joy:


Thanks for all the great responses & encouragement all! This is another one for my files…


Bees on brood comb are typically nurse bees. They don’t fight. Bees from two hives may fight. Bees from three hives seldom fight.


Bees that have been smoked don’t know who’s kinfolk and who’s not.