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Snelgrove and ME


I live in central Alabama, USA Something I learned that I should have understood earlier…2 things…1. The queen will not cross a honey cap. 2. Bees in a bottom brood chamber will not go UP to stored honey in a 2nd brood box.

We are fast approaching an early spring after a wet mild winter. Running 65 days and 50 nights on average. We are dropping to low 30’s tonight but after that we will be rising and rain again…

I opted to attempt to run 2 double deeps last year and now understand why the bees never stored in my Flow. The 2nd brood box was filled with honey and they did not need to expand. I watched all summer as the cleaned and waxed the Flow and took comfort at least they were prepping it for this Spring.

Inspection last week revealed the 2nd brood box is still filled with honey I cannot harvest for consumption (treated). Predominantly empty drawn frames in bottom brood chamber with 1 frame of brood and larvae.

My goal is I to manipulate to get maximum bees and honey.

Considering options.

1 Reverse boxes and have bees remove the honey as the queen ramps. This removes the honey cap and also keeps them well fed as they expand?

  1. Remove the 2nd box maybe adding a frame or two of honey to the outer edge of the bottom brood box. But this creates the higher risk of early swarm prep?

I was going to use the Snelgrove this year because I did somewhat last year and only had 1 swarm that I know of and my hives are in my back yard for quick view. Year before I had at least 5 swarms from 2 hives. I want them to have ample room …but after inspection I am uncertain which steps to take.



I like option 2, and then gauge whether a split is best vs. putting the Flow box on. Might be able to do both, but obviously doing the split first will be easier.

  1. A queen will cross a capped cell if she wants to. That is an age old story I have heard for 40+ years and found it to be false in my first few inspections of my own hives.
  2. Bees will build comb anywhere there is available space and they will return to the honey stores if they need to eat it. I have heard stories of colonies die out with plenty of honey still in the frames but my thought is that the bees died for some other reason like Varroa, for example, and not from starvation.

A local bee group would be worth joining as a beginner or a mentor who is not anti-flow hives.


I did not mention, due to my circumstances swarms AND splits are essential preventions. 2 positions me to 1, reduce my brood chamber and 2, escalate risk of swarm. I am hoping for a better option to avoid that…


I joined a club before I ever got my first bees. My club is not anti or pro flow… if they were I probably would have found another club… do you have any suggestions regarding manipulation in order to deter early swarm tendency based on the current condition of my hives.


A Snelgrove split is designed to deal with queen cells. You can just do a simple split if they are not showing a swarming urge, and I have done that many times. You are basically just thinning out the hive. Assuming I had a double brood box I would do the following:

  1. Inspect the hive to get an idea of how many frames of brood are in the hive.
  2. Take between 1/4 and 1/2 of the brood frames out for the new split. If I have 16 frames in brood boxes and 7 of them are well-covered with brood, with a lot of bees in the hive, I will take 3 or 4 of the brood frames (with bees) and put them in a nucleus box.
  3. If the parent hive has plenty of food stores (I am usually doing this in early or mid-spring, so sometimes there is a lot, and sometimes not much), then I take a frame of honey and half a frame of pollen too.
  4. Depending on how much I got from the hive above, the split could go into another 8-frame box. If you have 3 frames well-covered with brood, 1.5 frames of honey and 0.5 frames of pollen, you could put them into an 8-frame box with 3 frames of empty drawn comb (aka “stickies”). Also if you are trying to split more than one hive, you can add the extra brood and make a very strong new hive. So many choices! :smile:
  5. In my region, if the split is queenless, I will add a purchased mated queen after about 24-48 hours, checking for queen cells before introducing her. I do this because we have africanized bees, and I don’t want an aggressive hive in my urban location if I let a queen mate naturally.

Just a few thoughts. Hope something from that helps a bit. :blush:


I work hard in swarm prevention for the reason I would rather make a split and keep all the bees to work for me. I do very early Spring splits doing the walk away method and my splits to to basically end up with two equal hives and the hive that is queen-less has an excellent chance to make their own queen. Walk away splits are the easiest way and for me it works with a minimum of effort and though I have had to add a frame of brood to the queen-less hive because she didn’t return from her mating flight, other than that it works for me.
I run 8 frame boxes and when I do a split I do it using an 8 frame box, not a nuc, here a strong split soon out grows a nuc.
In my mind if one of my hives swarms I have failed the colony.
@Dawn_SD has made very good comments and advice.


Keep em busy.


An interesting read. A busy bee is a happy bee. Some very good advice in that article about using the bees in wax production and increasing the number of available frames for the bee keeper.