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Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Making Spring Splits

Making Spring Splits

Look at our new upcoming class:


There are several advantages and reasons why you will want to split your hives:

To increase the number of you hives.

To prevent swarming.

To produce nucs.


It is important to realize that splits should only be made from overwintered hives, or what we refer to as second year hives. A first year hive usually will not expand enough to split in their first year.

How early you split your hives will depend upon where you live. Wait until the evening temperature is warm enough so that the transferred brood will not become chilled. It is a gamble for me here in Central Illinois to make splits prior to the month of May. A thoroughly populated hive can keep their brood warm on a cold night but not a small split.

Although there are many variations in making splits let me give you the simplest explanation then I will expand upon the variations.

In its simplest form a split is nothing more than several frames of brood, bees and food sources taken from a strong hive and placed in an empty hive. You might think of it as a controlled swarm, although a natural swarm only consists of bees and not brood or comb. But, when making a split, we also add brood, nectar and pollen to the split. Thus, making a split from a large colony can discourage swarming.

When I make splits I simply pull our 4 or 5 frames of brood in various stages of development along with the bees on those frames and place them in a new hive box. I also add a frame or two of nectar and pollen from the strong hive. I feed my new split 1:1 sugar water as well.

I prefer to move the old queen from the established colony with the split. This even reduces the likelihood of the large colony swarming since now they are queenless. Be sure to leave eggs and young larvae behind so they can raise a new queen. With the queen going into the new split, this will help hold the bees in their new home as well as speed up the growth of the new split.

You can also do a walk-away split. If both deep hive bodies are very strong and full of bees and various stages of brood, you can simply separate these two deeps, giving them both a bottom board and top cover and allow the queenless box to raise their own queen.

A challenge may be that the older colony may not raise their own queen. In this case, it is important to check within a few days to see if a queen cell is being formed. If not, you will need to order a queen.

I have also made splits with just two frames of brood and bees. So, you'll have to experiment and see what number works for you.

Making splits is really pretty easy! And think of the savings of not having to buy a package or a new queen.