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Panic! New Queens arrived for a split but bad weather...what do I do?


I am a new keeper with 1 hive started last summer. It still appears to be a very strong hive.
I planned to do a side by side split ( no room for taking them elsewhere) of the hive today and use 2 new queens.
Never done this before.

So the new queens just arrived today. 1 queen and 3 assistants in each little wooden box.
BUT the weather has turned very cold here…45 deg F right now and and low 30’s for the next week!

What do I do?!
This afternoon is supp to make it up to 59 deg but downhill from there for a while.
Do I run out then and make the split? (I have to find and remove the current queen which could take some time for me maybe). run out tomorrow and put in the queen cages no matter the temp? I read I can’t leave them queenless for too long and also can’t keep the new queens in their shipped cages too long.

If I do this, will the splits and caged queens survive the cold weather?

If I wait until better weather it will be at least a week or more. Should I somehow try to keep the queens alive in their little cages somewhere that long and do it later if\when it warms up?


I say, “do the split, but do it quickly.” I think she’s got better odds living with her new girlfriends, than you trying to keep her alive somewhere else.

Just one person’s opinions, of course.


I had a sort of similar situation last month. Here is the thread:

To cut to the chase, I would suggest the following:

  1. Give the caged queens and attendants a drop of water every 24 hours - do not let it fall on them. Either put it on the mesh, or if it falls through, position the cage so that the water is at the bottom, and there is a dry area for the bees to gather themselves on.
  2. If you can take a drop of honey from your existing hive, give that to the caged bees too, once every 24 hours.
  3. Make up 2 nuclei from your existing hives ASAP in 5-frame nucleus boxes. Feeding water and honey as described above should be good for a few days, but if the attendants die, your queen will follow soon after. Making queenless nuclei is a great way to keep your new queens alive for long periods of time. Each nucleus should ideally be about 2 frames of brood (some close to emerging), 2 frames of food and the 5th frame either a dummy board, or whatever else your hives can spare. Twenty-four hours after making the nuclei, introduce your new queens in their cages, removing cork/plug (over the candy) but leaving candy in place, as needed.

I realize that you may not have the equipment to do what I suggest, but that is what I would do.

If you don’t have my options, I would pick the best day, inspect and find the old queen. Dispatch her. Split the hive and reduce the entrance on both new hives. Listen for queenless roar (takes about an hour). Introduce the new queens and pray. Pray hard. :blush: You should be OK, but not guaranteed. :wink:


I would suggest finding a mentor to help find the queen, aim for the 59degF period to do the split. Do it as quickly as possible so as not to chill the brood.

Keep your entrances reduced.

Be aware that the returning bees will favor the entrance of the original hive. You’ll need to keep an eye on that to make sure that not too many bees leave the split, leaving the brood unprotected against the cold & SHBs…

When I do something like that, I always split them into two unfamiliar brood boxes so that I get an even distribution of bees into each split.

Your bees & new queens should survive the upcoming cool period as long as each split has sufficient bees.


We just did the split. Luckily found the existing queen pretty quickly and took her out.
I have no idea if I split up the boards correctly or not as I still have a hard time determining what is on each board. I had 4 good boards of mostly honey so did 2 in each on the outsides then 3 boards of what appeared to be mostly brood in various stages in the center as my local bee club told me to do. They said to move some pollen boards but I did not recognize much if there were any but moved a couple of lighter boards with not a lot on them…that may have had some pollen All were mostly built out. Some from the top and bottom box, into a new box for the split.
Like I said, I’m new at this and going off of information from forums, my club and videos. Lots of conflicting suggestions for sure! We do not have a mentor currently.

So some say don’t add the queen in cage for at least 24 hrs. But the next 4 days will have a high of maybe 45 then possible lower for a few days before turning nice.
So is it ok to stick the queens in their quickly tomorrow when it is cold or should I stick them in today while it is still in the 50’s?


That’s good that you found the queen. I think now that you have covered the hives up again, I’d wait & quickly add the queens tomorrow in the warmest part of the day.

Is there a candy section in the queen cages for the bees to munch on in the meantime?


If you hear the “queenless” roar of buzzing from the hive, I would put them in today. If not, do it quickly tomorrow. The other thing you can do is put the queen in and watch for 30 seconds. If the bees are trying to feed the queen and look docile, everything is fine and you can leave the cage there. If they are trying to sting her, and biting the cage, wait another day.

You might also benefit from feeding them some fondant or 1:1 syrup at least, and perhaps a pollen substitute as soon as you can. :blush:

The syrup helps to encourage them to accept the queen, and the pollen sub will help them recover their numbers for foraging. I would just feed once, or until the bad weather is done.


Great job dealing with your new queens. I hope all goes as expected.


As I anticipate splits in the future and have little experience doing them. Should/Can I freeze a few frames of honey to ready for an unanticipated split? Can it be refrozen if no split is necessary. I ask because of breaks in the weather, thawing times for frozen frames. To fill the scenario, my hive is making queen cells faster than they are bringing in food or stored honey. Plus when I was making a split, setting a frame in a nuke with a queen cell on it I bent the queen cell (my nuke wasn’t deep enough) so thought it best to remove the cell and put the frame back in the brood box but I had this frame of honey to deal with. I just let the hive rob it out but would have preferred to re-freeze it.

What I learned is the cardboard nukes warp so I’m throwing them out and not saving them.

What I wonder is if the queen died from a tiny bend? What happens to the cell if it’s jostled a bit? Obviously one does not want to be ruff with stuff but will a tiny bit kill the queen cell?

Can I just cut off a queen cell and give it to a friend?


You can, but freezing can make wax very brittle, even after it thaws. I would use it in an emergency, but I wouldn’t rely on it as a routine.

I use them only for transport = overnight or less. Re-using them is tricky, because everything bends.

Could do, especially if it cracked the integrity of the cell and the nurse bees didn’t like it.

If you do it very carefully, but I would do it with a mentor first. Queen cells are quite tricky to handle, and if you are giving them to a friend, I would either give them on a frame, or give them many more than one. :blush:


Interesting about the queen cell. The nurse bees kept with it and the next morning the cell was abandoned. I cut it off and set it on the hive top and watched them for a while.

I have a ton more questions! Thanks DawnSD and others. :grinning:


Back to the discussion of the adventures of my first split…
Today was the first decently warm day. I did not dig through the hive or the new split to look for the queen but I did add a top feeder for 1:1 syrup as others recommended doing as soon as possible.
A quick glance in the boxes at that time showed bees running around acting normal; just not as many as before of course. The split hive though had far less activity going in and out of the box than the original which looked like a traffic jam. I’m assuming the majority went back to the original hive box.
I’m going to check around for the queens at the 2 week mark. At that time, should I maybe shake some bees from the original hive, (assuming I spot and avoid the queen) into the new split hive to try to boost \ even them out?
I don’t want a weak new hive if I can avoid it.


Hi Nick, I reckon a good idea is to swap the hives position over while there is honey coming in. That will even the population for you. Another alternative would be to move a brood frame containing lots of emerging bees into the weak hive.

You are in spring. Your weak hive wont remain weak very long if you boost it with a frame or two like I describe.


Thanks. I have not read of hive position swapping before. They are very different give designs so not sure it would trick some bees into the other hive or not.
I might try moving another frame or shaking one to get more bees in the split if I sdont see much volume change in another week.
At this point I have not yet been in to see if the new queens were accepted or not anyway so anything could be going on.


Swapping hives position works well. Just don’t attempt it during bad weather or a honey drought. Sometimes it can work too well, taking more bees from the donor hive than anticipated.

A good strategy would have been to swap them backwards & forth right from the time of the split so as to get an even split of population.


The weather might be getting a little better this week.
It’s been 2 weeks since the split and requeening. Lots of babes on both this afternoon.
One of the hives has a built in mouse guard which also creates a reduced entrance. Should I remove that for the rest of the season? They looked backed up trying to get in and out already.
Should I dig in there and see if the new queens made it…or does it matter at the moment as long as there is a lot of activity?
I am also thinking of getting the 2nd brood box on each soon as they will have to build that out completely before even considering a honey super and with the bad weather they are several weeks behind already IMO from where they could have been by now.


I think I would take a look, just to be sure. I wouldn’t look for the queen, just evidence that she’s there. As soon as I see sealed brood, I’m happy to close the hive up again.


Thanks…but wouldn’t there still be some sealed brood from the boards when I did the split or do they come out faster than that?..Still learning this stuff and dont really know the cycle times.


Just a follow up. Checked on the bees today. Both new queens were running around just fine!
So that seems good.
One of the boxes though I saw loads of bees but not a lot of new larva at all and also what I think were some queen cells ( larger cells with the opening generally pointing down…so I pulled them off).

What could that indicate? If they decided in their little bee heads they still want a new queen, how does that play out?


Hi Nick, you can count on 11-12 days that worker brood is sealed. If it is old sealed brood only, you will probably also see bees emerging with no new eggs to replace the recently emerged bees. If it is new sealed brood from a new queen, you will normally see brood in all stages grading up to recently sealed brood.

Maybe the second colony has rejected the new queen, or they are preparing to swarm with the view of taking the new queen with them. Bare in mind that it is Spring where you are. Keep an eye on it to see if they keep building queen cells. You might have to split it.