Splitting a Hive but did not find my queen? What now?

I split my hive today to give a friend some frames full of bees and brood. I have two brood boxes and my Honeyflow super. The 2nd brood box looked to be full of honey and no brood. I found that I had so many bees with all three boxes completely full. I thought this was the case and was afraid of the bees swarming. We went and picked up a new queen today. Came back and harvested 21 bottles out of my Honeyflow (2nd time in a month - See picture). I then removed the Honeyflow and the 2nd brood box. I did not pull frames in the 2nd brood box but just simply set aside on a table and looked in from the top. I then went through bottom brood box frame by frame looking for the queen. All kinds of brood with very little honey on most of the 8 frames. Relooked at each frame over and over with no success. It was starting to get late and had to make a decision. Decided to take 5 of the frames in a Nuc box over and set them up at my friends house and installed the new queen leaving the queen in the queen box leaving her to her helpers to eat out the sugar plug.

Question: How do I know if I actually transferred my queen to my friend and I no longer have a queen or not? What can I observe in either of our hives?

If there is no queen, the bees will start making emergency queen cells, you can open up the hive and check.

Thanks Bruce! How long do I wait before checking?

The day after you removed the frames, if the queen isn’t there, the bees would have started making emergency cells.

First of all, congratulations on the great honey harvest. I would wait 3 days before looking in for emergency queen cells. They will be very prominent by then. It’s worth remembering that they don’t build queen cells on every brood frame, you’ll need to check them all. I hope you didn’t put the new queen in the queen right portion of the split. It might be worth removing it until you know which portion is queenless.

I have never attempted to do a split with a new queen on hand. When you think about it: Sometimes when you really need to find the queen, they can be very elusive, unless they are marked. When you don’t really need to find them, they’ll stand out like beacons. That’s kind of how it works.

If I was going to attempt something like you did, I think I would do the split 3 days before the expected queen arrival date.


I found the queen for you; she was in the unchecked box :slight_smile:

Thanks Jeff. It is first attempt at splitting. All that I have read said to have the new queen on hand. I really expected that I would find her. What would happen if she was in the transferred frames that we put the new queen into? Would she just kill the new queen or vice-versa.

The queens won’t fight. The bees will kill the new one
Actually I just noticed she’s in s cage. Go back and see what the bees are doing to the cage

That’s certainly what I do. Or wait till the colony is hopelessly queenless

Hi Bob, I would be guided by @Dee Because I haven’t got any experience in that area.

I’ve done lots of re-queening in the past, in every case I managed to find the queens. I recall looking over every brood frame twice before finding the queen on more than one occasion.

The other week I noticed first hand how hard it can be for a new beekeeper to spot a queen. There is merit in marking queens.


Jeff, thank you! Yes, the new queen is marked but mine was not when I bought this nuc which was my first one. I will know better from now on. Being red/green colorblind does not help but I make sure they make the mark blue or yellow or something that does not make it worse!! :slight_smile:

Dee, thank you! We are going to look over the queen this afternoon to see if she is out already. Not sure how to know whether the bees are being friendly or trying to kill her if she is still in the cage.

Friendly bees will be either walking calmly over the cage or actually feeding her or both. Bees attacking her will be biting the cage

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Absolutely, and if they really hate her, they may even try to “ball” the cage, burying it in a complete covering of vibrating, active bees. They can generate enough heat to cook the queen inside. However, they usually do that pretty soon after you put the cage into the hive.

Checked the new queen in the new hive and all looks good. They were not being aggressive with her at all. I was surprised that she and her workers had not eaten more of the candy to get out than they had. Thanks for all your advice. I will update if anything changes. So much to learn, so little time! :smile:

Well done Bob, that’s good news. In relation to the color the queens are marked. I believe that all queens are marked the same color each year. That way you know what year a queen was marked & roughly how old she is. That’s how I understand it to be.

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Thanks Jeff! Yes, I had heard that was the case!

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Re the colour. That’s how they are sold either that or with a number. I mark mine white. Try spotting a yellow marked queen amongst a sea of yellow/green pollen legs. Red is hard to see as is blue

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If I was going to mark my queens, I think I would mark them white also.

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Don’t most commercial sources mark their queens with a colour based on year?

[numbers are year ending]
White 0,5
Yellow 1,6
Red 2,7
Green 3,8
Blue 4,9

…Will You Raise Good Bees?