Hive Split – Turning 1 Hive into 2

When a strong bee colony begins to get crowded they will swarm and go find a new home. Beekeepers don’t want their investment to fly away, so one way to prevent swarming is to divide your hive into two hives. A new package of bees costs around $95 dollars. Dividing your hive into 2 is a way to expand your operation for free.
craig hive split 4
How it is Done
I pulled 3 top bars of brood comb (comb full of bee eggs and larvae) and placed them into the new hive. Then I brushed the bees off of three additional bars into the new hive to increase their numbers. The bees seemed to embrace their new home right away. I replaced the missing bars from the original hive with new ones and put the now bee-less combs back in their original as well.

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craig hive split 1
The new hive will take about 2 weeks to produce its own new queen. She will need about another 2 weeks to mate with drone bees and to start laying eggs. If this proves unsuccessful I will order a mated queen from a bee supplier and integrate her into the hive.

craig hive split brushing bees into new hive
Brushing bees off of some brood comb into their new hive.

I’ll post an update in a month to show how they are doing.

This entire process went off without a hitch until I took off the bee suit to get some photos for the blog. My vanity would be my undoing. A bee flew up and stung me right above the eye. It hurt. A bee sting releases an attack pheromone to signal the other bees… “CHARGE!” Luckily I escaped the onslaught but I still needed the photos so I had to put the suit back on and return to the hives. I tried to wash the scent off my face but the bees came buzzing around my head as soon as I neared their area. As you can see I got the photos, but it wasn’t the most pleasant experience.
hive split face after bee sting
When I woke up the next day my eye was swollen almost all the way shut. I used ice and Benadryl to reduce the symptoms but my face still looks pretty knarly.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Follow-up to this experiment. It has been over a month and the original hive recovered just fine however the new hive was extremely sluggish without the presence of a queen. I opened the hive and saw no indication that a queen had been made and only about 40 bees were left in the hive of the thousands I had put in there.

    I intend on taking split from my other functioning hive, and adding a queen purchased online to operate the new colony. I will make another update when I’ve finished this process to see if I have better results.

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