How to split bee hives

Written by brooke turner
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How to split bee hives
Beekeepers split hives in order to increase profitability. (Swarm of bees image by Mykola Velychko from

Beekeeping has become a popular hobby, and many people have turned their hobby into a successful business. Part of the way a beekeeper can retain profitability is by splitting beehives. Splitting beehives will increase the number of hives and bees, consequently increasing the amount of honey produced. By splitting these hives, bee farmers also decrease the size of large colonies, discouraging swarming. Because many hives can have mite problems, this can also help solve that problem as well. Splitting hives also frees up nucleus hive boxes, large boxes that can hold up to five deep frames, to sell for profit.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 2 nucleus hive boxes
  • 1 part sugar, 1 part water mixture

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  1. 1

    Place two nucleus hive boxes facing opposite directions on either side of the hive you are about to split.

  2. 2

    Fill a large container of a syrup mixture that is one part sugar and one part water. The container should have feeders on the exterior.

  3. 3

    Cover the entrances of the nucleus hive boxes with a screen to prevent bees from escaping. This will also provide the bees with plenty of ventilation. You will keep this screen on the nucleus hive boxes for up to two days.

  4. 4

    Pull two frames at minimum of brood in different stages of maturity. Do not use smoke when pulling these frames. Inspect them carefully to ensure that the queen is not on any of the frames you pull.

  5. 5

    Place the frames into one of two new nucleus hive boxes.

  6. 6

    Place a frame of honey inside the new box along with the new bees.

  7. 7

    Check the nucleus box again to ensure that the original queen is not in there. If the bees are behaving aggressively, this is an indication that the queen is not in the new hive. When you see this, it is time to purchase a new queen for both of the new hives. It's critical that you choose a queen of the same breed as the rest of the bees.

  8. 8

    Introduce the new queen slowly to the new hive by placing her in a queen cage and placing it inside the nucleus box for two to three days. After a few days, release her inside the hive.

  9. 9

    Remove the screens from the nucleus boxes two days after the bees can become acclimated to their new environment.

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