How to Split a Beehive

How to split a Beehive

This article “How to Split a Beehive” was a collaboration between kiwimana and Peter Smith from the Franklin Bee Club. Here is Peter’s method of creating new queens and colonies. Thanks Peter for sharing this information.

It’s good practice to split your beehive in spring to prevent swarming and also to disrupt the varroa mites breeding cycle.

Now with a Freebie Handout, see below for an offer to get a Free Handout which you can take to the Beeyard with you. The handout includes the key steps in this article

This is a great way to split a Beehive and get the bees to naturally breed their own queen, which is readily accepted and also a good way of preventing swarms when done in early spring. This article will show you how to split a Beehive.

How to split a Beehive – What do you need

How to split a Beehive - What you need
  • A strong colony in two full sized brood boxes, with about nine frames of brood.
  • Two full sized Boxes with either empty or drawn frames (9 or 10 frames)
  • A Bottom board, Hive Mat and roof for the new hive
  • A Queen excluder

When to Split A hive?

During spring and summer, when the sources of nectar and pollen are abundant in your local area.

Can I Split a First Year Hive?

I would not recommend it, but if you have the miunium frames required below and you have enough time left in your season you should be OK.

How to split a Beehive – The Process

Because you shake the bees off the frames this is a great method to split a hive without finding the queen.

  1. Find at least four frames of brood with mainly eggs not older than 3 days in your old colony.
  2. Move these frames to a new box (shaking all the bees off the frames); placing the frames in the middle of the box. Shake any bees back into the lower box.

* Be very careful to make sure you don’t trap the original Queen in the new box*

The frames in the new colony should consist of:-

  • A minimum of 4 frames of eggs
  • One or two frames of pollen
  • Two frames of honey
  • A spare empty frame.

You should concentrate on getting eggs that are less than three days old, these will make the best Queens.

Have the honey and pollen on the outside of the eggs, the eggs should be in the centre of the frames.

  1. This empty box now full of bee less frames becomes the queen rearing unit.
  2. Add empty frames into the parent hive to replace the frames you have removed in a similar configuration as the new box.
  3. The queen excluder is now put onto the parent hive, with the box of beeless frames on top of this. Leave this configuration for 24 hours.
Put Queen Excluder On Top Old Hive
Put Queen Excluder On Top Old Hive

After 24 hours

Empty Box on Parent Hive
  1. The top box will now be full of young nurse bees looking after the frames of brood with the original queen below the excluder.
  2. Take the new box above the excluder, and move it sideways. You should see plenty of nurse bees looking after the brood in the top box.
Move new colony off parent hive
Move new colony off parent hive
  • Place the new box in the location of the old hive, with a new bottom board and roof. This step will add some flying bees to the new colony.
  • Move the old boxes to the side at least three or four feet away.
  • Reverse and Move Box 3 or 4 feet aside
  • You may need to put an extra box onto the split and it is a good idea to put a box onto parent hive to house the expanding hive.
  • How Long to Wait After Splitting Hives – Five Weeks

    Check that new box has a new laying Queen.

    If you open the hive prior to the five week period you endanger the whole operation.

    If you give this a go, please comment below on how it all went…

    89 thoughts on “How to Split a Beehive

    1. Avatar photo
      John Watson says:

      Really appreciate your advice about splitting. Will give it a try.

      Can you suggest any simple, effective way to clean a Queen Excluder when they get gummed up with wax?

      • Avatar photo
        Gary says:

        Hi John,

        Thanks for the feedback and positive comments, it’s always great to hear from our readers.

        Well cleaning a queen excluder, if you have a wax extractor big enough you could always put it into that.

        To be honest what I do is get a kettle of hot water and pour it over the waxed up areas, this clean it up very well.

        Our wax extractor is just too small…cheers…Gary

        • Avatar photo
          Craig Ellis says:

          First time trying a split, found your website and followed the procedure. I had a commercial overwintered 2021 Italian queen and feed the hive with syrup and beefeed pollen supplement 20th August 2022. This is in Tauranga NZ. Only one brood box over winter and 2nd storey added 6th August with queen excluder on brood box. Did the split on 25th September moving up 3 egg frames. I did leave a frame of drone brood in the split. Did not see the queen. The original hive took a little while to build up again and is strong now moving into a 2nd storey. I left the split alone, desperate to open it and have a look, lots of activity and many new bees. On 11/10/22 split hive cast a swarm with drones and field bees which I caught and is looking strong considering I moved them into a ready to go box with now drawn comb, added a couple of frames and feed them once. Still left the split, opened it on 27/10/22. Eggs in both the split and the cast. Very happy have two new hives of well behaved bees, thanks for posting your information.

      • Avatar photo
        Geoff Galliver (UK resident) says:

        Lots of water under the bridge since you asked this question and by now you might well have a solution, but here’s what I do:
        Firstly, use your hive tool to chip off any large lumps of wax; then prop the QE against a wall at an angle of approx 45 degrees (not critical) and just use a blowlamp and ‘flash it’ back and forth across the QE. Most of the molten wax will then just drop off.
        Don’t do this inside your garden shed – you might well succeed in burning it down!!

        • Avatar photo
          Gary Fawcett says:

          Yep great idea Geoff, I have been thinking of getting one of those little blow torches to do this.

          Boiling water also works, but seems like a waste when you are using tank water (like we do).

          Thanks for the comment…Gary

      • Avatar photo
        Glenys says:

        Always have a spare excluder to replace the gummed up one.
        then you can clean the gummed up one away from the hive. I use the heat gun and holding the excluder over a piece of newspaper or tray and run the gun vertically along the wires. the gun melts the wax off and then you can finish cleaning with a wire brush if needed.

      • Avatar photo
        Neville Von Kistowski says:

        Hi from Aust,
        I let the excluders in the sun and then clean them with a
        barbecue cleaning wire brush &2.50 from Bunnings.
        Cheers Neville

      • Avatar photo
        Erik says:

        Overnight Split comment 2017

        Dear Kiwimana and other interrested beekeepers. We have done an overnight split and there is one crucial comment missing. As mentioned we waited 5 weeks to avoid any distrurbance and there was no colony left. While with a normal split you check regulair. The result: Every born queen left the hive with a part of the colony.
        The overnight split works very well and gives you 2 strong colonys. BUT !!!!
        After the completion of the overnight split you MUST check after a week if redcells (resque cells/ queencells/?) are made and cut them all out back to 2. As such 2 queens.

        • Avatar photo
          Margaret Groot says:

          Hi Erik,
          ….we are sorry to hear that this has been your experience. Our experience has shown us that if the split has been done when the colony are already drawing queen-cells, then problems do arise. So the first half of the process is always about preparations, by conducting a thorough “assessment” inspection before planning your split.
          The second ‘half’ of the method also proven sound which is moving the ‘old’ queen away its a key because she thinks she has swarmed and giving her older capped brood when she is moved away will help them establish their new location and then within a couple of weeks she resumes laying as usual and you should see new brood. Our philosophy is not to kill queen-cells and let nature takes its course…
          BEFORE splitting – ASSESS
          As timing is everything in beekeeping, awareness and recording the seasonal conditions/temperatures/climate is helpful as they will impact on splits/swarming activity, so you need to have some temperature trend figures over the last 6 weeks of Winter to see how temperatures are increasing. We like to have all treatments completed within last 6 weeks of Winter.
          Meanwhile, One month before considering splitting, an “assessment inspection” – this method requires a frame by frame assessment. we inspect to assess their status (brood age/eggs/type of brood/food stores/pollen/honey etc) however making no changes in this assessment inspection.

          Two weeks later we go in and assess the changes – it enables us to see brood changes/increase/check ages and if Drones are starting to appear. When we get closer to Spring we continue to monitor 2 weekly so we can check the girls progress. Once we are confident that the girls are ready to split, meaning the population is increasing and new eggs are present then we prepare for splitting – we don’t want to see queen-cells at all. We always ensure no queen cells are in her set-up ! but if you do, its too late in most cases, if this happens, we suggest moving the ‘old’ queen away after putting together enough for her to have her own colony – we would add the queen-excluder then we would wait the 24 hours as per the split-method and its crucial to ensure NO QUEEN CELLS go with ‘old’ Queenie.
          Back to prep….Only after inspections then if you are 100% sure your preparation of the two splits are set-up correctly – then start the process.
          This method has been proven successful and we stand by the ‘leave alone’ time. The basis for leaving the girls alone for that 5 week period is sound, because it allows them to do their work in peace, leaving them to keep the temperature up higher to produce a good quality queen – around 36 degrees Celsius – inspecting while the cell is being raised causes the temperature to drop so you want to avoid this, inspections can also damage the cell.
          Normally if there are extra queen-cells raised, the strongest queen will overcome and destroy the other queen-cell. Further, if there are other queen cells the new queen will announce her arrival with a type of song which is called “piping” which warns that she is gonna get them !!
          Heres the timing….
          9 days for Queen cell to be drawn and capped, then another 7 days until she is ready to hatch = 16 days.
          Another 10 days in which she goes out on the wing to mate, some queens go out on multiple mating-flights = 26 days.
          Then within 10 days new brood and maybe some capped brood = 36 days and then inspect = 5 weeks.

          Our only conclusion is that there may well have already been some indications of queen cells or that the ‘old’ queen was still present with the ‘split’ which is a very common occurrence.
          Side note: its important to note that the two colonies are not even ready to go or “strong” after 24 hours, the 24 hour period is specifically to make the nurse bees move up to the eggs you have separated from the ‘old’ queen side of the split’, the 24 hour period then allows workers to ‘split’ themselves to care for the brood which is now over two levels. Thanks so much for taking time to get in touch Erik – we appreciate feedback however we stand by the split-method and the ‘leave alone’ period – we just need to trust the girls while ensuring we have conducted assessments to measure for growth over the 6 weeks before Spring has sprung ! Regards, Margaret and Gary. Thanks again Erik.

      • Avatar photo
        roger carberry says:

        I dip mine in hot water, then as soon as I remove them (after 5 mins) I blast them with a karcher pressure spray.

      • Avatar photo
        Christine says:

        Thank you so much for the excellent info on hive splitting… I am a new Beekeeper living in the Far North & am very keen to try this.

        • Avatar photo
          Gary Fawcett says:

          Thanks Christine for the feedback, yes it works pretty well we have used it multiple times over this season. Thanks for reading our blog, please subscribe to our mailing list for future updates….Thanks…Gary

      • Avatar photo
        Gary Fawcett says:

        Hi Herb,

        Thanks for the comment, I think that is do with the period that the Queen is going out to be mated.

        Sometimes a colony will turn on the virgin Queen if the hive is disturbed by too many inspections, by five weeks she should be mated and laying new eggs. So less chance of the colony turning on her.


    2. Avatar photo
      Lennox Deane says:

      I’m going to try this! I’ve seen quite a few variations but I understand this rationale. Will certainly give feedback!

    3. Avatar photo
      Lyndon Hadden says:

      Hi Gary,
      I will also give this a try in the spring, its very clear what to do thanks!!. Does the queenless hive make only one queen? And by leaving both hives close to each other do the bees get confused where to go to?

      • Avatar photo
        Gary Fawcett says:

        Hi Lyndon,

        Thanks for the feedback and for reading our article.

        The hives only make the one Queen and no moving the hive at least 4 feet apart seems to be enough to stop Bee drift. You could move the hives further apart if you have any concerns.

        If you are moving hives, you could move the old colony with the Queen to new location.

        Get back to us in Spring with how you get one with your splits


    4. Avatar photo
      christel says:

      Hi Gary, Thanks for the detailed instructions and it did work really well. I have split off the hive end of Nov and I have checked them yesterday for the very first time after 5 weeks. And yes SHE is there. I am the very proud owner of a new young family. Only two frames with eggs and little larve are there but it is only the start.
      Thanks a lot might try another hive next year spring.
      Cheers Christel- South Island

      • Avatar photo
        Gary Fawcett says:

        Hi Petra,

        Thanks for the comment and for reading our blog.

        Well in Auckland the bees have slowed down since Christmas, for around here I would say it might be cutting it fine. Unless you are prepared to feed them.

        Not sure where you are located, but it may pay to check with local beekeepers. It all depends on the honey flow in your area in the next month or two?

        Will there be enough time for the bees to build up enough stores going into the colder months.

        Hope that helps…Gary

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    6. Avatar photo
      KBee says:

      Thanks for this post! For some reason, this is the first description of how to do a split that made sense to me. πŸ™‚ you inspired me to give it a try with a strong hive two days ago. Yesterday I watched the hives all day and there were a FEW flying bees going into the new hive, but I sat there for five or ten minutes and there were probably about five or ten bees. Most of the foragers have found the new location of the old hive (3-4 feet away). Same story this morning. Any advice? Anything I can do to help increase those numbers, or shall I just trust in the process and let them work things out?

      • Avatar photo
        Gary Fawcett says:

        Thanks for the comment Kelli, The hive with the old Queen will be lower in number, but these will build up as brood hatches. I would reduce its entrance down during this time.

        Are most of the old field bees going into the Queenless hive at the old location? If they are going to the new one (3 to 4 feet away), you may want to move it further away.

        Have you noticed plenty of drones about in your part of the world?…Gary

        • Avatar photo
          KBee says:

          Sorry, I may have been confusing. The new queenless hive (at the old location) is the one with almost no field bees. All of them are flying into the old hive, which I moved several feet away. But yes, I have an entrance reducer on the new hive, and am hoping that as some of the capped brood hatches over the next week, they’ll have enough of a population boost to power through.

          Hmmm… I haven’t noticed a high number of drones here (Hawaii) but I’m also pretty inexperienced and I’m learning to watch so many other factors that maybe I’ve missed that! πŸ˜‰

          • Avatar photo
            Gary Fawcett says:

            Yep drones are very important for mating with the new Queens, if you don’t have many drones about you may find the Queen doesn’t mate correctly.

            Check with other local beekeepers to check if they are producing drones Kelli?

            Very strange that the field bees are going back to old hive, we have done this method hundreds of times with great success.

            If after the five week period you see no eggs, then I would merge the hives and try again later in the season.

            We mentioned your question in the podcast coming on Thursday πŸ™‚


            • Avatar photo
              KBee says:

              Yeah, things have been rough for bees on our island since getting blasted by small hive beetles a few years back. It seems that feral populations are starting to grow again, but even non-breeks have commented how their flowering trees that used to attract happy buzzing clouds have been strangely silent the last few seasons. πŸ™

              I was really worried about that hive split after a few days of almost no foragers. But a week later, and I’m starting to see a little stream of traffic. πŸ™‚ 3.5 weeks to go! Crossing fingers. The original hive is abuzz just fine and dandy. πŸ™‚

            • Avatar photo
              KBee says:

              Yeah, things have been rough for bees on our island since getting absolutely blasted by small hive beetles a few years back. It seems that feral populations are starting to grow again, but even non-beekeepers have noticed how their flowering trees that used to attract happy buzzing clouds have been strangely silent the last few seasons. πŸ™ I recently heard that some of the commercial keepers are purposefully letting many swarms go off into the world in hopes that they’ll add to the “wild” population.

              I was really worried about that hive split after a few days of almost no foragers. But a week later, and I’m starting to see a little stream of traffic. πŸ™‚ 3.5 weeks to go! Crossing fingers. The original hive is abuzz just fine and dandy. πŸ™‚

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    9. Avatar photo
      Andy Watson - Marlborough says:

      Hey Gary

      I followed your instructions which were great, easy to follow and understand. It was really interesting to see how it all worked particularly with isolating brood frames and how the nurse bees naturally migrated to them. You get that first one out of the way and then you are off.

      I opened the hive yesterday, 5 weeks to the day. My problem is that I only found 1 frame with capped and uncapped brood. There were other frames that showed the brood pattern but no brood or eggs. I didnt search for the Queen as I didnt want to disturb it that much but I am wondering if (thinking) I have an issue? I guess its possible the Queen has died for some reason or not mated correctly?

      When I created the split I placed a second box with foundation on it. Watching the hive over the 5 weeks the hive has been really active. It had plenty of bees when I opened it and the top box has been drawn out and about 7 frames full of honey. (Im about to put another box on).

      What would you suggest in relation to this? Im thinking I give it another week or so and check again and consider merging with the parent hive if it hasnt improved, or another option is I take further frames with eggs and brood from the parent hive and see if the split can re Queen itself?

      • Avatar photo
        Gary Fawcett says:

        Hi Andy,

        Yes sounds like a good idea, the weather has been awful for queen breeding this year. So the queen may not have mated correctly.

        You said you have capped brood, that must mean she was there at some point?

        It can’t hurt to put in a frame of eggs from the old hive, if the hive does have a queen then the bees won’t raise any queen cells.

        Thanks and Merry Christmas…Gary Fawcett

        • Avatar photo
          Andy Watson - Marlborough says:

          Thanks Gary, I just thought I would update you. I waited a week checked again and this time found 4 frames of capped brood so just needed a little more time.

          One question I have, Im running two brood boxes on the parent and new hive. How much honey will / does a two brood box hive require to get through the winter?

          • Avatar photo
            Gary Fawcett says:

            Hi Andy,

            Great News Andy, she must have needed some time to get going.

            Well it all depends on your area; I would ask a local beekeeper. It all depends on the length of your winter, local food sources etc.

            In Auckland I would recommend at least six frames on honey, this is made up across all the frames. But it will most certainly be different in your local area Andy.


    10. Avatar photo
      Tama says:

      Hi Gary,

      Thanks for this. It is very easy to follow. I live in the bay of plenty and am new to bee keeping. Am I ok to do a split now or should I have done it in Spring/ early summer?

      Many thanks

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    13. Avatar photo
      Dave Langford says:

      Hi Gary,I’m all set to try a split on the weekend.Whats to be done if there’s queen cells when I go in?.Also if this works I’ll be needing another of your mesh bottom boards,and a couple of your drone traps(or the number you suggest for two double story brood box hives,Thanks Dave

      • Avatar photo
        Gary Fawcett says:

        Hi Dave,

        Thanks for the feedback, If I had Queen Cells, I would add the frame with the Queen cells along with a frame of capped brood and one of honey into a NUC box or Queen Castle.

        When the new Queen hatches and starts laying then move them into a bigger box.

        The process on this page is to get the bees to create Queen Cells. Hope that makes sense.

        Good luck with it Dave.


    14. Avatar photo
      Dawn King says:

      Hi Gary,

      I completed a split 5 weeks ago. I just went into inspect and no sign of any new brood. No sign of any queen though I didn’t want to spend too long in the hive. There has been plenty of activity – honey is being put down, and pollen but no sign of any eggs. It has been pretty windy so not sure if this could have affected the ability of a new queen to get out and mate. I am not sure what to do now. I am thinking of waiting another week and checking again. I am not keen to reunite with the main hive at this stage as it is pretty full and still has potential to swarm. If I don’t see any eggs/brood next week are there other options than reuniting? Can I buy a mated queen and introduce her? Or get another frame of brood from the old hive?

      Thanks Dawn

      • Avatar photo
        Gary Fawcett says:

        Hi Dawn,

        Yes leave it for a week and see of you can see any new eggs.

        If you have other hives, you could add a frame of new eggs and check in a week. If the bees create a new Queen cell then I would say the queen did failed to mate or didn’t return from her mating flight.

        If you don’t see any eggs or a Queen cell after a week, then yes you could add a new Queen.

        Give us a call if you have any other questions…Gary

    15. Avatar photo
      Christel says:

      Hi Gary,
      I have split the same hive twice at the end of last year. a little more than five weeks apart from each other. I have now two new healthy families beeing very buzy! Thanks for your detailed instructions it worked really well. Regards

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      • Avatar photo
        Gary Fawcett says:

        Hi Paul,

        Thanks for the comment.

        I would say ‘No’ at this stage, I would wait until the weather calms down a little.

        Also do you have lots of drones in your area? Does your hive have lots of frames of brood?


    17. Avatar photo
      Jade says:

      Hi Gary, I’m down in Blenheim and did a hive inspection yesterday I have a very strong colony with a lot of feed and not a lot more space as our winter has been relatively mild. I’m going to progress with a split and quite like the sound of method you have here, I was going to get a queen or a cell, but maybe I should let them try to breed their own?? A couple of questions, I was going to keep the old queen hive at home and move my split to another property, would this work or are you best to move the old colony? Also is it ok to start the new split with just one brood box and then add another after the 5 weeks, just thinking of warmth etc for the new split. Thanks for your help. Jade

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    19. Avatar photo
      haakon says:

      Gday Gary,
      The only split I have done was basically your description but introducing a bought queen. It worked great.
      I read somewhere that I needed to completely separate the new and old colony so I took the split over to a mate’s place a few kms away. I notice your advice is only a few feet. Much easier. I will let you know how it works out.
      I am in suburban Perth.
      regards, Haakon

      • Avatar photo
        Gary Fawcett says:

        Hi Haakon,

        Thanks for the message, you don’t need to move the bees that far, as the hive mainly has nurse bees in it.

        If you introducing a Queen, I would recommend using capped brood instead of eggs, the bees may reject the introduced Queen and raise another one with the eggs.

        Yes drop us a line, it will be interested to see how it works out.


    20. Avatar photo
      Therese says:

      Regarding the splitting, if this is done mid summer, what does one do with the supers? Also, should varroa strips be added to the new hive (the one that is raising up the new queen)?

    21. Avatar photo
      Claire Bleakley says:

      Hi Gary,
      I have a 6 week old hive that is doing really well but suffering a bit in the wind. It has been recommended that I put a super on – do you think instead of this I could try and make a second hive as you have outlined? Or shall I wait until next spring?
      I do have lots of food and am certified organic on my 20 acres.

      • Avatar photo
        Gary Fawcett says:

        Hi Claire,

        Thanks for the email, sorry for the show response.

        Well it all depends on the local conditions, its Autumn now so I would be very careful splitting hives at the moment.

        If the hive is strong and a Honey Flow is pending then earlier I would have recommended doing a split, but at this stage I would get the mite levels down and the food stores are high.

        Hope that helps…Gary

    22. Avatar photo
      Ivan Walker. says:

      Hi At present I have 1 box of honey on top of 1 box of brood with a queen excluder between them ,If I use your way of splitting where do I place the new box on top of the old brood or on top of the honey.

      • Avatar photo
        Gary Fawcett says:

        Hi Ivan,

        Thanks for the message.

        Its important to put the new box with the eggs over the original hives brood, the Nurse bees may not cross over a box of Honey frames to the Eggs.

        This would cause the split to fail, I would share the Honey frames between the two new colonies.


        Gary Fawcett

    23. Avatar photo
      Gail says:

      Thank you, Gary. I just did this last week. The old hive is buzzing, the new one has just a few bees going in and out, but they have plenty of food and nurse bees. I am guessing I should see more bees after a week once the brood starts to hatch? I am nervous about them, but am sticking to the not looking for 5 weeks. I also put out a lure box hoping for a swarm to move in. Is it 9 days before a queen will hatch?

      • Avatar photo
        Margaret Groot says:

        Hi Gail,
        ….know that the colonies will both quieten down a bit…the old-queen colony will be the quietest – perhaps reduce the entrance while the brood begins to build-up again.

        In the split (old hive) where the new-queen is to be raised….the queen-cell will be capped in 9 days, the queen will bee ready by day 16 – they may raise extra queen-cells but leave the new queen to destroy any competition – the winner will prove to be the stronger queen!
        Keep up the good work Gail… by the time you are reading this there should be a queen hatching and going off to do her mating flight…which takes another 10 days thereabouts….make sure entrance is clear for her to depart and enter freely…all the best..bee patient and your patience will be rewarded…all things going well….by day 30 she should be laying and capped brood cells will start to appear. Regards, Margaret and Gary

    24. Avatar photo
      brian bagshaw says:

      thanks for clear instructions for method of splitting hive . split carried out 16th may and 24th june there is sealed brood in the new colony meanwhile there are 3 supers filling nicely on the original (the limes are flowering ) brian brum uk

    25. Avatar photo
      Anne-Mieke says:

      Hi Gary,

      We are new beekeepers in the Gisborne area. We have a hive that appears to be queenless on spring inspection. We had noticed it was very quiet and bee numbers are really down with no sign of the queen or any eggs or brood. What are our options at this time of the year?? Would you recommend joining it with a strong hive and how?? Or try and requeen??

      • Avatar photo
        Margaret Groot says:

        Was there any old capped brood? If so you’ll need to check it for disease, not advisable to merge a failing colony with another colony – it could cause the stronger colony to fail. If you have a frame of eggs from another colony you could place that in the failing hive and if they need a queen they will build queen cells but you must make sure the eggs are very new eggs. The theory is that they will want to raise a new queen, assuming they are healthy enough to do so. You will need to wait 16 days + 10 days to see new eggs assuming she is properly mated. Once the frame of eggs are added do not disturb them for the 16 days they will need the temperature to remain consistent as queens need to be raised in around 26-36degrees. What may have happened is that they have had very heavy mite load and the queen has absconded. You may need to feed them. While they are raising the new queen there will be a brood break so varroa shouldn’t be an issue in the meantime but after the new queen starts laying around 26 to 30 days you may need to consider treatments once you are happy she is queen right. If you need to contact us to discuss things further please email – [email protected] or call (09) 8109965. Regards, Margaret and Gary…it’s the kiwimana buzz…

    26. Avatar photo
      Gerad Gibson says:

      Thank you for the article, very informative and seems like a simple way for strong splits! I will split this spring in Midwestern US.

      Question: When does the split/new hive determine they are queenless? Hours after the larve and eggs are moved above the QE or not until after the hive has separated from the original location and old queen’s pheromones 24 hours later?

      I want to produce the strongest queens possible, I understand the earlier an egg can be treated as a queen the better. I wondering if the 24 hours is partly for beekeper convenience and if enough nurse bees would migrate within the first 5-12 hours (example: split at sunrise and relocate at sunset)? Allowing the split hive to determine they are queenless earlier and therefore begin developing queen cells sooner for more time to feed them royal jelly.

      Gerad Gibson

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        Margaret Groot says:

        Hi Gerad,
        Thank you for your feedback, yes we have used it for some years and its been successful for us. The key note: is that the ‘OLD’ Queen is the one moved away from the original location so they think they have swarmed or SHE thinks she has swarmed – effectively – move about 2 meters (6 yards?) Just to stop too much drift (although there will be some drift). The ‘OLD’ Queen being moved away needs older capped brood so when they hatch they are in their new location with no history of the old location – the benefit is they will hatch quicker and become the foragers. This ‘OLD’ Queen colony colony will become a bit quieter while waiting for the older-brood to hatch, best to be left alone for two weeks.
        Then the remaining colony remains in the original position, then they raise the new season Queen and the foragers just carry on working as normal. The 24 hour wait is allowing the nurse Bees to move up and look after the brood/eggs then they will understand no queen is around. When preparing the split to raise a new season queen is left with mostly eggs, so the nurse Bees will continue to feed royal jelly, so yes you are right, its important when preparing the split it must have new eggs to work with. Interestingly, All eggs get royal jelly but after I think 24 hours if no queen is required they just get normal food after that – its just a strategy they use in case they need to raise a queen…thanks for your question…other point is best not to treat while raising a new Queen as it may interfere with her getting her pheromone around the hive and remember there is a brood break and the colony should have been treated before splitting. Great to see you preparing and all the best for your colony over Autmun/Winter. Regards, Margaret and Gary

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      Ricky Pack says:

      Hey Gary! Greetings from Gulfport, Mississippi. Could I use your split method into 2 nuc? I have Russian bees and they actually chew the Varroa off of each others backs. The Honey Bee Genetics Laboratory in Baton Rouge, Louisiana told me to just do 3 frame splits and they would produce same year surplus honey. So I am researching 5 frame vs 3 Frame. What says you?

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        Margaret Groot says:

        Hi Ricky, Apologies for the delay in reply. I understand that you will bee going into Winter, there is a Mike (Michael) Palmer (youtube) who does wintering nucleus colonies and he will probably be able to give good advice, as we probably would not split going into Winter as the concern might be in terms of resources ie: enough honey, brood etc…we do the pre-emptive split in the beeginning of Spring which gives them time to build-up and then keep the old queen and then she continues her work, and the new-season split can then be re-split with the resources building in the Spring/Summer flows. Once again sorry for the delay. All the best Ricky, Regards, Margaret and Gary…it’s the kiwimana buzz….Thanks

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          Tamra says:

          Hi – what date would you suggest for pre-emptive splitting? What’s considered the beginning of Spring in Auckland? August? Thanks

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            Margaret Groot says:

            Hi there, when preparing for preemptive splitting it starts around end of July in NZed. We start with assessing each hive and then do fortnightly inspections noting changes in the brood, particularly the start of drone-cells once capped takes another 14 days to hatch – then another 10 days to mature. The method is that once the drones are mature that is when we look at splitting and thats also the time thats the newer worker brood is being lain, and its those frames with eggs used in the split method on our website – also make sure all treatments are complete while the queen is being raised. All the best. Regards, Margaret and Gary…it’s the kiwimana buzz..

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      Karen says:

      Hello, we are newbies and looking to split a hive showing signs of swarming. Queen cells have been removed in recent weeks. We have a flowhive. We have a new queen ordered. We would really appreciate any experience at all on this process to give us the best chance of success.

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        Margaret Groot says:

        Hi Karen, everyone has a view of how to breed bees. Here at kiwimana we like to use the bees natural instincts, we do pre-emptive splitting before the colonies even get to raising queen cells, we do this because we love to keep our good surviving Bee genetics going. I aren’t sure where you are from but if in the USA, check out Mike Palmer on youtube, he does over wintering nucleus colonies. If you are in New Zealand, we find kiiling queen cells can be a problem because you just wont know which queen cell is viable as in most instances there is possibility of on-going desire to swarm, especially if mulitple queen cells, I would assume your girls have already had a swarming, and you would lose your old queen through that process. Adding a new mated queen does not guarantee they won’t swarm again. The queen breeder will provide instructions on adding your mated queen. Once installed into the colony I would suggest leaving her to emerge from the queen-cage then wait 9 days to see capped brood, you will need to check if she is laying properly so you need to see healthy eggs, larvae and worker brood cells. All the best. Regards,
        Margaret and Gary, thanks for being part of the kiwimana buzz….

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      Ruth Vaughan says:

      Hi, I have just checked my new split hive which I did 5 weeks ago. I have never split a hive before and this is only my third season so still feel very new. I followed your instructions above and I am very excited to say my new hive is thriving with a new queen and lots of brood! I have added another box of frames and will check again in 2-3 weeks. The original hive is exploding with bees so do did not suffer from the split. Thank you so much for helping me do this. Ruth

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      Peter says:

      Hi Guys
      Split the same hive again in Feb (its a very large strong hive) and just like clockwork, have another queen doing very well when I checked at 5 weeks.

      It may require a little feeding to get strong enough to get through the winter so we will see!

      best regards

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      John Gordon says:

      I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tested out you hive splitting methodology and it worked!! Tomorrow would mark 5 weeks from the split but I checked one day early. Sure enough there was an active queen in the split and she has obviously been laying for a couple weeks. … There was nice weather over the two days of the splitting process and one more nice day then we had a blizzard for a couple days, not real cold temps but slightly below freezing at night. Fortunately the outcome was still good. The established hive looked a bit odd at first with no flying bees in the new location. After about a week the ratio of flying bees between the split and the establish hive was about 50:1 …. Now they are about the same. ….. Thanks!!

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      Chris says:

      I tried this method and have run into a roadblock, I did the split on Sunday 30/09, and exactly 2 weeks later I captured a swarm that I am confident originated from the split box (I did an inspection in my parent hive that morning and saw no swarm cells or any queen cups ). So I suspect that the split raised a new queen from a young larva and she emerged before any of the “egg queens”, I am hoping to come out of this with an extra hive out of this.

      So my question is this – with this swarm that I captured, how do I get her to stay put in the new box I have put them in. I have read to put a QE under the brood box to prevent her from leaving – but if she is a virgin queen then she cant get out on her mating flight – it seems risky letting her have access to the big wide world while they may still be in “swarm mode”. Is there any amount of time that she is limited to do these mating flights? Can I lock her in for a few days until they settle and then remove the QE?

      Also another question – to save having to chase bees around my paddoks again – now its been 16 am I relatively safe to say that the remaining queen (if there is one) will have taken ownership of the remains of the split and I should just keep my mits off the split until the 5 week mark? Or should I go in and check if there are any queen cells and destroy them if I find an already emerged queen?

      Advice appreciated – thanks!

      Note – it is possible (but unlikley i think) that the swarm is just a swarm that floated accross to my hives to inspect if my hives were a suitable place to settle down – and I just so happened to notice them at this point?

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      De Fowler says:

      Hello and thank you for the instructions this is my second season. I am going to prepare to do the split on Monday as the weather in Auckland is looking good. I have a double strong brood box with good honey stores from winter. My question is if I mistakenly put in the Queen in the new box. Will the other box recover as well as long as their is fresh brood in there Thanks Dee

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        Margaret Groot says:

        Hi Dee, yes the weather was good, however checking for the brood development in terms of the viability, ensure you have enough brood = going on to 9 frames. The method includes brushing off Bees so do this gently to ensure no injury is caused to queen. by brushing all the bees into the bottom box this will ensure the queen is safely in there, then adding the queen excluder. remember to move the bottom box away. the remianing hive will raise the new queen from the eggs you have provided them …please don’t rush this ensure you have drones in your hive so you know your area is ready for flying, mature drones. You really do need to identify queen if you can – I do this by slowly going through the hive frame-by-frame, one at a time. All the very best Dee…thanks for beeing part of the kiwimana buzz… Regards Margaret and Gary.

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      Ash says:

      Thank you for making information available. I tried this method but found that by moving the original hive and putting new split in its position I ended up with too many bees in split so added another box, multiple emergency Queen cells had been raised and hatched and split then swarmed 3 times in quick succession and is now queenless. Next time I do it think I will leave location of original hive and have split stay a few feet away. Good result In the end as caught the swarms. It took my main hive some time to get number back up after loosing so many to the split.

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      Graham Griffiths says:

      A very interesting way to split really simple method will definitely give a try , can’t wait to do it.
      Graham Griffiths, South Wales U.K.

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      Catherine Lawrence says:

      Hi there,I used your split method in Spring last year,good instructions,easy to follow and resulted in a lovely great laying Queen.Thank you.

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