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Details of the Taranov split

The Olympia beekeeper who submitted the photos of splitting a Langstroth with a Taranov board, Dave Hurd, sent in some details based on reader questions. He did a nice job explaining his method, so I’m presenting it as today’s post. Once again thanks, Dave, for all your input and your great photos.


I can add a little more info about my split experience. On the afternoon of 4/28 (two weeks ago) we were having some usually warm weather and the bees were flying so I thought it would be a handy time to start a HopGuard treatment. I first installed the strips in my nuc and then moved onto my triple. I put strips in the top box, then as I lifted it off I saw a couple of capped swarm cells along the bottom of the frames. I carefully lowered the box back into place and closed the hive. That was probably around 2:30.

At that point I was sure that the hive had either already recently swarmed or was just about to, and decided to make the split immediately in case the girls hadn’t bolted yet. Having read Rusty’s excellent description of the Taranov method I knew what I needed to do (run back into the house to read it again), so I came up with the materials to fabricate my board and put it together, got a nice floral print sheet from my wife, and got set up.

As I was placing the board and sheet I noticed right away that through some adrenalin induced measurement error the lip of the board was about 1.5″ too high, so I slipped a couple of 2x4s under the hive to even them up. It was probably about 3:00 when the apparatus was assembled, in place, and ready for action.

I started shaking frames working from the top down, stacking the emptied boxes on the top cover. When I got to the bottom box I pulled, shook, and replaced the frames leaving the box in place.

Per the instructions I made sure to carefully brush the bees from frames with swarm cells to protect the new queen. For the other frames it only took one or two firm shakes to drop the bees onto the sheet. The whole process proceeded very quickly; after 20 minutes the hive was as empty. I spotted the marked queen midway through the middle box as she fell on the sheet.

At 5:00 all of the bees were either back in the hive, clustered under the board, or out foraging. By 5:05 the cluster was in a new home sipping sweet syrup. This was a brand new box, with brand new frames of brand new foundation; no queen cells added.

Today, two weeks later, the old marked queen is still in the new hive with quite a bit of eggs, brood, and capped brood. They seem to be doing well; in fact they seemed a little crowded so I added a second box on top of the first. I’ll check the old hive to make sure there are eggs next week, and if not I’ll requeen it from my nuc.

As far as needing help, I did this all on my own and it was, in hindsight, not a big deal work-wise. I will admit to being a little panicky during the process because, well, that was a lot of bees! I was much relieved when I saw the queen and knew that I had caught it in time. I don’t think it could have gone much faster if I’d have had help; but there would have been someone to hold the video camera . . .

Dave Hurd


  • I feel your camera pain, Dave. I can’t get my wife within 40 yards of the hives…while I am working them in shorts, a t-shirt, sandals no veil or smoker. Hopefully one of the kids will step up one day. Thanks for the great info and pictures.

  • Great job, Dave! I am looking forward to giving this a try to see how it works. I just love the creative minds out there that come up with these solutions!


  • I’m wondering if anyone knows if removing the queen to a separate super and placing it directly in front of or immediately next to the first hive would have a similar effect. Would the bees that were ready to swarm with the queen leave the old box and follow the queen’s scent to the new box?

    • Angie,

      I think not. Those nurse bees have never been outside and they don’t know their way around, which is why the Taranov split works. They don’t even know how to get back into their own hive, so they are unlikely to leave one hive and go to another.

  • Rusty and Dave,

    Thanks so much for the extra details. This gives me confidence in attempting this in the near future on a very crowded triple deep!


  • Hello Rusty,

    Last week I did a Taranov split (and what a cool process it was to watch!) and went to check on them today. The original hive had 8 capped queen cells and it is doing marvelous. Already new larvae and lots of eggs. However the colony that I split off is not showing any signs of new eggs (I had put in a frame of brood, some honey and one frame of drawn out comb) and I could not find the queen. There should be new eggs in the split off hive by now, yes? And if yes, then something has happened to the older queen. Any suggestions? Should I just buy another queen from a nearby breeder?
    Thank you. Sharon

    • Sharon,

      I can’t find my little handy-dandy bee wheel, but it sounds to me like you’ve got the old queen in the old hive. For a new queen to hatch, mature, mate, mature some more, and begin to lay will normally take two to three weeks. So if you split last week, chances are the old queen is still comfortably at home. Of course, you say “last week” and maybe you don’t mean within the last seven days. In any case, sounds suspicious.

      Normally in a split like that where I can’t find the queen, I would put half of the queen cells (or a minimum of one) in each hive so that either could quickly develop a queen. If your new split doesn’t have a cell and needs to raise a queen from eggs, then it will take even longer to see eggs—perhaps a minimum of three or four weeks, depending on the weather.

      It’s hard to say what to do at this point because you don’t know if the split has started a queen or not. What happened to all the capped queen cells? What did you do with them? If the old hive is still thinking of swarming (which they might be given the old queen) they may be producing more cells, in which case you could give one to the split. Otherwise, you need to see if you can find evidence of a queen cell in the split. If you don’t, then give them some more eggs and young larvae so they can raise a queen.

      Alternatively, you could take the old queen and transfer her to the split (with a standard slow introduction) and let the old hive with its plethora of eggs and larvae make their own new queen.

      One of the dangers of adding a purchased queen to the split at this point is that they may have a virgin queen. If they do, the two will fight it out, with one or possibly both dying in the process.

      • Thank you Rusty. Next time I do a split like this I will move over some of the queen cups. This was my first time ever doing a split and it was 8 days ago. What you say makes sense…old queen is still at home. She is not really that old…she was a new mated queen last year with our first nucs.

        I had left all the queen cups in the old hive. They are all gone today and there were no new ones. Pretty effective that old girl!

        I could not find any evidence of a queen cell in the split. Makes sense to move over a frame with eggs and young larvae.

        Thanks again Rusty.

        When I read through your blog I appreciate your practical strategy forward advice/information. and I enjoy your sense of humour. Laughed out loud many times reading your writings.


  • Dear Rusty & fellow beekeepers,

    As I am a newbee, keeping less then 2 months, I had to reread this system 4 or 5 times to get the gist of the system. Now once the bees that are able to fly back across the 4 inches to the old hive do their flight to home, and the other bees that are hanging into the mat underneath the Taranov board have split in half given enough time to make sure all are 100% split, could you added another walk way to the hive you want them in and have the walkway touching their new hive? Being a new guy on the block scares me to no end as there is not a soul in my area who has bees, so I am left between a rock and a hard place and I just want to do something before they think of swarming. Any help you can provide to me would ease my mind.

    New guy John

    • John,

      Interesting question. I just did a Taranov split yesterday, so they are fresh on my mind. I don’t know the answer, but my guess is no. I think they follow the familiar odor of their old hive, and that is why they march toward the entrance. They are not accustomed to flying, so they don’t. But I don’t think they would be lured into a different hive that didn’t smell like home.

      If you want to prevent your hive from swarming, but it’s not quite ready to swarm, I would use just a standard split, like a swarm control split. Taranov splits are really good when swarming is imminent. The one I did yesterday had 16 capped queen cells and the only reason it hadn’t swarmed was rainy weather.

  • Playing devil’s advocate for a sec…shaking all bees from all frames…will exposes brood to a bit of a chilld and dry from their ideal 97 ish degrees/85% humidity, yrs?

    Otherwise, sounds like an awesome process.

    • Brian,

      There’s very little (if any) open brood right before a swarm because the queen has been forced to stop laying. There will be capped brood, but it is not as vulnerable. Remember this is swarm-season maneuver, not something for cold weather.

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