Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

Donating brood frames to a friend

My friend’s hive is in big trouble- few bees, no obvious signs of disease, no queen and evidence of an emergency cell that has not seemed to have been successful in producing a new queen. I have offered to donate a couple of frames of brood from a robust hive (aware of the risks of transferring other things) so the hive can hopefully generate another queen. My question is that I am going to find it hard to put my frames of brood in a nuc without my girls going with them. If my friend puts these in her hive, could the two sets of bees sort out some arrangement or will they just fight and… if my bees outnumbered hers, would my bees become dominant? I’m a bit new to this so some support would be great.

We are hugely disadvantaged by not knowing where you are, @GmcGrace. Perhaps you could update your profile with an approximate location. For example if you are in Australia, my advice would be very different (and more positive) from what is to follow.

If you are in the northern hemisphere - Europe or North America/Canada, I would say your friend’s hive has succumbed to Varroa. There is no point in you wasting frames of brood on a dead hive at this time of year. Your friend needs to start afresh next year (Feb and March are the best months to start with a nuc or package), and monitor carefully for varroa, treating if needed.

If you are in Australia, Varroa is irrelevant, and I need to rethink. Please advise. :blush:

Hi dawn. In southern Australia in a slow warm summer.

1 Like

If there are few bees I’m sorry but I would let them go. The bees will be old and knackered. If you have a good strong hive then make your friend a split. Even two frames is a good split. Two frames of brood a frame of food and two drawn frames and they will be up and running in no time.


Thanks dawn. We will wait. I do have enough for a split. I appreciate your help

Totally agree with @Dee’s suggestion. You will need to donate some bees too, otherwise the brood will not be cared for by the right number of bees.

Nurse bees don’t fight, generally, even when mixed on the same day from different hives. I have done it myself.

The genetics of the queen are what dominates the hive. If your friend still has a queen, that queen’s genetics will dominate. If not, and you give frames of eggs and very young brood, the hive will make a new queen. Whatever new queen they choose will dominate.


I’m the friend! And a novice beekeeper. The hive area and surrounding orchard area was sprayed with roundup about 3 weeks ago, a mistake by a worker human who had not been instructed by his boss (who I HAD instructed not to spray in the area) and only realised when the grass started to die around the hive. The hive, a swarm captured last year, may not have been robust to start with. It had lots of honey a month ago, but something has happened…the spraying, possibly swarming? I looked again today but still cannot see a queen. I have fed the hive some syrup (the honey stores were lost). There is some capped brood, but I have to say things look pretty grim. Today the hive is very active again- I suspect it is robber bees feasting on my syrup, although it could be a resuscitating hive…awaiting to see what happens, crossing my fingers, and if necessary starting again with new brood and bees from GMCGrace. All advice gratefully accepted :slight_smile: Big learning curve.

1 Like

Glyphosate won’t harm the bees. At least not to the extent you describe. If those are robbers you have two choices. Let them get on with it or move the hive well away. It may be that the hive has swarmed and there is a new or unmated queen in there. Maybe some photographs of the frames? You may not be able to save them but at least you will have a diagnosis.

1 Like

Welcome! Happy to have you posting on the forum. :sunglasses:

Those 2 features suggest that the hive probably swarmed. If so, it may be 6 weeks from the swarm date before you start to see eggs again. If there is capped brood in there, the swarm must have happened less than 3 weeks ago, so I would give it another 3 weeks or so before worrying about the queen.

However, if the hive is weak, and @GmcGrace is willing to donate a frame of brood and nurse bees, so much the better to give them a boost! :blush:

Do you see them fighting? Are there dead bees on the ground in front of the hive? If so, I would look at getting or making a robbing screen. I don’t know what you have available in Australia (just ask @skeggley about “salted rats” :smile: ), but mine looks like this:

If you can’t buy one, you can make a much simpler one with a few strips of wood and some fly screen. Here is an article showing how simple they can be:

You need to get it on the hive ASAP - robbers can empty a hive in a few days. :worried: Definitely put it on before accepting a frame of brood if you are sure about the robbing.