Taranov split... Snellgrove board

OK - two of my hives are showing signs of possible swarming (one already did). I did inspect those hives early in spring- and gave them new frames and room with supers- but it looks like the bee numbers are exploding regardelss and that they will likely swarm. At the bee society last night many of the experienced beekeepers reported their hives have swarmed despite anti-swarming measures. It’s a swarm year again. I am strongly considering doing a taranov split- to simulate a natural swarm. Last night I watched this video of a demonstration of the split in the US:

it’s virtually a feature length movie- but it had a lot of good dialogue from the demonstrator Adam. Some interesting observations are made- notably you can clearly see that despite the seemingly radical step of taking out every single frame and dumping all the bees in the hive onto the ground- the bees never get angry. There are many people lounging about few wearing protective gear, the sky is full of bees- yet the bees are not angry and no-one gets stung. The bees really do seem to think they have swarmed and go directly into swarm mode.

Also I think the idea that that this method is the closest thing to a natural swarm is interesting- and the only method that actually divides up those bees that were going to swarm (nurse bees) from those that planned to stay (foragers). This creates a split that builds comb just like a swarm would: fast.

Also in the video Adam describes using a Snellgrove board variation to the taranov method that allows you to strengthen the original colony with foragers from the split, housed on top of the original colony and separated by the snellgrove board. A short term two queen hive…

He mentions that he has done this process over 20 times with complete success every time.

I’m convinced! At the least that this method has a place when swarming is imminent and other methods may be too late, quite difficult and possibly futile…

It’s also a marriage of laziness and utility. I’m a big fan of that!

So I will do a variation of this method on at least one of my hives over the next week.

I am wondering if there is anywhere in Australia I can buy a Snellgrove Board? If not I will do a walk away split- but would like to experiment with a snellgrove down the road if I can.

In the video Adam placed all new frames in the split colony- but I plan to place a few brood frames from the parent colony in there. I am hoping and expecting to see queen cells when I open it up.


Hi Jack, just read up on everything I said about preemptive swarm control. If you follow my technique to the letter, you wont go wrong. Whatever your fellow club members are doing is obviously not working!!! …cheers

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I am sure if i had followed all your advice i wouldn’t be where I am now. especially the idea of ‘weakening out’ colonies early on to stop swarming. Also I read the other day where you said even if you can’t see queen cells- but the frames are so covered in bees it would be hard to spot them- that in that situation your colony is clearly so strong it needs action.

I’ve learned my lesson: next year I won’t be so complacent. I fell into that trap of knowing what the risks were- but hoping somehow ‘it wouldn’t happen to me’. Next year if conditions are the same I will probably split every hive early on. I think in a single brood situation it is a good move…

This advice is similar to one thing in the video above- where the demonstrator says he watches the landing board comings and goings to determine the strength of the hive. When he can no longer count the bees - there are too many and the hive is potentially ‘swarmy’…

Only problem is I didn’t follow all your advice! I was too busy out and about chasing other peoples swarms! :joy::sunglasses::face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I though that these colonies were not so built up- I had given them new frames and room- but not enough- and I thought they wouldn’t build up more as rapidly as they have. But they have… I am a victim of my own bees success- and also a beginner.

as to the point about the bee society folks: that’s what I though too- whatever they are doing didn’t work. However some of these guys really are very experienced senior beekeepers. Still: if it swarmed it swarmed right? But I am thinking this season is starting out as a bumper one in adelaide- there are reports of swarms EVERYWHERE. I got 4 calls just yesterday to collect swarms.

So considering that it is now a bit late to take preemptive actions- it seems the Taranov method may be a good last ditch maneuver. It’s either that or a standard split? Having watched a few videos it seems like it might be a reasonable action for me to take at this time? Whilst it seems extreme- in practice it appears to go very smoothly and be quite simple- simpler than other methods that involve tearing down queen cells and multiple inspections, etc.


Just to get something clear. I suggest to shake half of the bees off a frame, so that an inspection can be carried out, that is if the frame is that covered in bees that a proper inspection is not possible. We are not only looking for queen cells, or queen cups with eggs in them, but we also need to view the brood to look for any signs of unhealthy brood. Looking for early stages of any disease should be an integral part of any brood inspection.


speaking of which- I helped my brother ‘weaken out’ his hive the other day by removing two brood frames and adding fresh foundation. The hive looked very healthy: lots of capped brood etc. no signs of disease. Except for one thing: on a central brood frame while I was looking at it- a large wax moth larvae suddenly emerged from right in the middle- out of the face of the comb (greater wax moth- one inch long). I was surprised to see one right in the middle of the brood- in the center of the box. I would expect to find them hiding at the peripheries and in small gaps where the bees can’t get at them. Other than that the hive seemed perfectly healthy. Do you think that’s anything to worry about? A nearby chicken dealt with it…

Well done Jack, I’m sure the chook enjoyed it. :slight_smile: No, it’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Sometimes I’ll see wax moth tunnels within honey frames before harvesting the honey. I never give it a second thought. Wax moths are on this earth, I believe for one purpose, & that is to render a beehive back to dirt after a hive has died out.

We will hear stories of folks who have lost hives to wax moth, when in fact the hive most probably died out before the wax moth took over.

PS colony, I should have said.


good that’s what I thought. I guess weevils were put on this earth to get rid of old flour that is neglected in the cupboard and improperly stored… they actually seem closely related- weevils and wax moths? The weevil moths look exactly like the smaller wax moth ones.

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I was reading through all of Rusty Burlew’s posts on Taranov splits & some others Dave Cushman (?) & recall seeing somewhere that the addition of brood can affect their likelihood to swarm after the split?
I think I’m going to go with a ‘straight’ :wink: Taranov first time round. It was going to be today, but it has poured rain all day.

the weather has cooled here too and now my two swarmy hives are looking nice and quiet again. I’ll have to inspect to see what is happening inside- could be the calm before the storm. Interesting about the brood- I’ll do some more reading today as well. I am guessing if it does make them more swarmy- only the split off part?

Hi Jack, you still have swarmy hives? What are you doing? I want to tell you that there’s plenty of options to prevent swarming. You don’t need to do splits. One option that I use is to use brood frames from “swarmy hives” to boost weaker hives. Just one example:- The one & only swarm I picked up last week finished up as 3 smaller colonies. One with the queen & 2 producing new queens. It will be easy to remove 3 frames of brood from a swarmy colony to add one frame to each colony. You can do that every 7-10 days.

I recall that you have picked up a few swarms of late. Maybe you could do something similar.

The one thing that I have been saying that seems to have gone unnoticed is to select the brood frames that contain the most sealed brood. That will slow down the population growth for the short term & buy us a bit more time. That is an important part of the strategy that I use to prevent swarming.


Just a comment here, not related to Jack’s situation of course or Jeff’s advice there, but hoping someone might post some sound advice…

It would probably be quite helpful to those out there - not long into beekeeping - who have a deep brood and then a complete Flow super, ( 6 plastic frames+) above a queen excluder in an urban backyard (they just have one hive and don’t want another), if there was a clear guide for them as to what they could do to reduce the swarm impulse of their colony. Perhaps the advice might be to get more boxes etc. Perhaps there isn’t a clear and relatively simple solution?


Hi Dan, the only solution that I could offer would be for that person to follow Cedar’s advice & join a bee club. I’m sure that in a bee club that there will be members willing to take frames of brood in exchange for frames containing fresh foundation, or even purchase a nuc.

Swarming & or swarm prevention is just part & parcel of beekeeping. It’s impossible to keep bees without having to either let the swarms go & then deal with any consequences, should they arise, or take steps to prevent swarming.

Anyway, I’ll step aside & see what others have to say.


Hi Jeff,

I have been trying to follow your advice this year, but one of my hives was already making swarm preparations (which I did not notice when I inspected) prior to removing brood, so failed for obvious reasons. Next year I will inspect earlier and more thoroughly :grinning: I’m going to make a split from my other two this weekend.

My question is relating to what causes the urge to swarm. My plan after this split will be to move frames of brood up into the super (i have a standard super on each hive in addition to a flow hive), and add foundation frames into the brood box. This will obviously give the queen space to lay and the bees something to do but will not stop the population growth. Do you think this strategy will work as well as removing brood, or should I give frames to weaker colonies instead?

Interestingly the hive that swarmed this year was a single brood box, whereas the other two went through winter as a double deep. I am thinking maybe this is because they had less space so started swarm preparations as early, as all hives had a similar number of bees. On the other hand, as all 3 hive come from different lines I guess it could be their genetics.

Hope you enjoy the rain coming your way soon!



I think your idea is a good one Jeff and hopefully others will give an opinion too. Part and parcel of the standard Flow configuration of the brood box with Flow classic, must surely also be a pathway or strategy to deal with reducing the swarm impulse.

To do a reasonable job without giving away brood, an option might be to purchase an extra big box and frames to go under the Flow super. In some urban areas around the world (where most of these hives probably are), that gets to be a pretty big set up to get any honey at the end of the day and to also keep the hive compact enough to be defendable. The other thing I keep reading is how conditions in urban areas -which are often without a really strong nectar flow, (but good supplies of pollen), can really bring on the swarming impulse.

Hi Julia, the swarm impulse is the way the bees reproduce. It’s triggered by the lengthening of the days & the flowers producing lots of pollen & nectar. The bees don’t always wait for the hive to get over crowded before preparing to swarm while the conditions are ideal for swarming.

You will be able to split from two colonies into one, if you like. Just use an unfamiliar box, lid & base to either colony. Stagger the frames of brood & bees minus the queens. Close them up & move them several k’s away so that no bees return. Remember to chock the frames so they don’t shift during the move.

Yes I move frames of brood to above the QX to give the bees more work to do in the brood. Place those frames directly above the most activity in the brood box. I only do that while expanding the colony. I would not do that if the honey super was already full of bees.

Yes I agree about the genetics.

Thank you Julia, no rain yet:):slight_smile: That was nice the other day. I actually saw some clover flowers out the front, the very next day.

I’m not sure if my hives are swarmy or not- maybe I’m being paranoid after hearing of, seeing, and catching so many swarms… when I inspected 10 days ago there were no queen cells (a few cups)- but- the bee numbers have exploded. On the first balmy day they developed large beards… the supers are jam packed with bee.

I have been using some of those methods on several hives- on my long hive I expanded it with more foundation frames and donated one frame of capped brood to a swarm. On my brothers hive we took out two capped brood frames - which went to another swarm. As for splits: I’m happy to make them too now- I’m building up my hives exponentially this year :slightly_smiling_face: Setting up two new apiaries in the Adelaide hills- 3 hives each.

Basically I did some swarm prevention early in- but I now think probably not enough (one already swarmed)…

I was just interested in this Taranov idea if I find that I have a hive that is going to swarm at any moment- as an easy last ditch way to effectively deal with the situation. It seems the other options would all be some kind of split fir a hive that’s going to swarm in the next few hours?

Whilst this taranov one seems extreme- it seems the bees go along with it- making it easy. I like the idea that the bees go into swarm mode and are separated just as they would be in a natural swarm

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I reckon a flow super would stack really well on one of those European single brood hives with the double deep frames. You’d still have the problem of how to rotate out/in frames… maybe it can be done with a vertical queen excluder in the one brood box…?

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Yeah well if the population has exploded over the last ten days, now would be the time to do something. Don’t put it off & then have regrets later on. BE paranoid about a strong colony wanting to swarm during swarm season.

It’s worth remembering, as I found out from personal experience that swarm prevention is a whole of spring thing. If a colony doesn’t swarm in the first half of spring, it doesn’t mean that it wont swarm in the second half of spring, or even a bit later.

The bees know that when they swarm, especially early in spring that they have a long season ahead of them to buildup again. We can use that knowledge to our advantage also.


OK jeff- I just inspected the hive I was considering ‘Taranov splitting’… It was packed with (mildly angry) bees- beautiful laying pattern lots of capped brood, pollen, eggs, etc. I didn’t see any obvious queen cells. So I decided to just remove two heavy brood frames with eggs on them and make a normal split. I took the bees that were on the frames: I don’t think I took their queen but I can’t be 100% sure. I shook extra bees from the super- but as I have the split in the same yard- I guess many of them will return to the original hive? I am guessing a lot of the capped brood will be emerging over the next few days adding more nurse bees to the population- will two frames and three foundation survive as a split? They had honey, pollen, eggs, capped brood and a good covering of bees.

If I took the queen from the original hive by mistake will it become angrier?

the plan was then to inspect my second crowded hive- and possibly take two more frames from it to add to the split. I planned to shake the bees off those ones.

However it is quite a warm day here and this is what that hive looks like:

Big Beard- a real hipster. In fact it has two beards - as I have a small entrance directly into my flow super at the top. Last year it was normal for most of my hives to beard on hot days but they never swarmed.

Is it OK to inspect a hive when there is bearding like that? I imagine it will cause quite the disturbance? perhaps I should wait till tomorrow when it is cooler and do it earlier in the day?

Several bees stung me right through my suit today.

Hi Jack, if a colony is real strong, I’ll sometimes take 4 of the 9 brood frames out with the bees & hopefully minus the queen. That is because I don’t want to go back in for a few weeks. I took 2 queens by mistake so far this season. I take the nucs away so that all the bees remain with the nuc.

Not only does the nuc need the bees, but the aim is to weaken the main colony so as to suppress the urge to swarm as long as possible. The returning bees will only work against that.

However 2 frames of brood with bees is ok to start a colony. I would only add extra brood to it once the nurse bee numbers have increased & only one frame at a time.

With 2 colonies to weaken out, you’d be better off to do what I described to @Jingles, that way your nuc will be a strong one. The stronger the nuc is in bee numbers, the better quality queen they will produce. It’s a numbers thing. They will produce more queen cells, therefore through natural selection, there’s a better chance of getting a strong queen.

I’ll give you an example: recently I accidentally killed the queen in my observation hive. After a while I put a frame of brood with bees in there to make a new queen. They only made one emergency queen cell. So what I did was take that frame out, broke the queen cell down, then gave it to another colony. Then I found a frame from another nuc with 3 queen cells on it, I put that one in, in it’s place. 3 will be better than one. The nuc that I took the frame with 3 queen cells still had a frame that contained at least 6 queen cells. So all was good there.

I hope I made all of that easy to follow, cheers