How to Split a Honey Bee Hive

By Kate Muir; Updated April 24, 2017
A hive can be split when the bees are plentiful.

Splitting hives is a complicated process for beekeepers. The benefits of splitting include the reduction of mites, the creation of additional hives and the reduction of colony size. Splits should be executed during the spring or summer in order to provide time for the hive to strengthen before the winter.

Splitting the Hive

Prepare the new nuc box so that it is large enough to contain two to five frames.

Prepare a syrup of water and sugar, mixing it to a ratio of 1:1. Pour this into the exterior feeders and secure in place on the new nuc box.

Block the entrances of the new nuc box with window screen to ensure that the bees will not exit their new hive. This screen should remain in place for at least two days after the bees have been moved.

Remove at least two frames of brood bees from the original hive. Ensure that the Queen bee remains in the original hive. Add one to two frames of honey into the nuc.

Add the new Queen bee to the new nuc box if you are not going raise a Queen from the brood. Insert the new Queen bee's cage between two frames. Do not open the cage for two days in order to acclimatize the other bees to their new Queen. It is easier to split a hive and introduce a new Queen than to allow the bees to brood their own Queen.

Let the nuc box sit for two days, then remove the window screens and cover the openings with foliage. Open the Queen's cage. Cover the hive.

Tip

Its best to execute early in the spring if the colony is thriving, as this will allow greater time for the bees to establish the new hive and have a successful and productive season.

About the Author

Kate Muir began her career in 2000 and has written corporate communications, largely in the field of arts and cultural policy. Her articles have been published in the "Toronto Star." Muir has a Bachelor of Arts, Honors, in political science and cultural policy.