The overnight split is a good choice if you are unable to find your queen but you want to know where she is after the split is complete. The downside is that it takes two days to complete.
Here are the basic steps:
- Prepare a new brood box to hold the split. The new brood box needs to be the same size as the original hive; so if the original is in a deep, the split needs to be in a deep.
- Give the new box two frames of honey and pollen, in positions 3 and 8 (or if you are using 8-frame equipment, in positions 2 and 7).
- Fill the remaining empty slots with drawn-comb, foundation, or starter strips depending on your preference.
The first day:
- Place your prepared brood box next to the strong hive you want to split.
- Remove two or three empty frames from the middle of the new brood box and set these aside.
- Select two or three frames of brood from the strong colony. Ideally these frames should contain capped brood, larvae, and eggs.
- Shake all the bees from the brood frames back into the strong hive. It is best to shake rather than brush because you don’t want to injure the queen.
- Place the frames of brood in the center of the new brood box.
- In the strong hive, push the remaining brood toward the center and place the empty frames at the edge of the brood nest.
- Place a queen excluder on top of the strong hive.
- Place the new brood box on top of the queen excluder.
- Put the telescoping lid on top of the whole thing.
The second day:
- During the night, nurse bees from the strong hive will have moved up to tend the brood, so now your nurse bees are spread evenly over the brood and your queen is below the excluder. Now you return to the hive with a bottom board (solid or screened) and a second telescoping lid.
- Place the bottom board where you want your new hive.
- Take the new brood box containing the frames of brood, nurse bees, and foragers and place it on the new bottom board in the new location and cover it with a lid. The foragers will return to the original hive but the nurse bees will remain with the brood.
- Reduce the entrance of the new hive to protect it from predators and robbers.
- Remove the queen excluder from the original hive and replace the cover.
You now have the original colony with its original queen in addition to a queenless split. At this point you can introduce a caged queen to the split or, if there are eggs in the split, you can let the bees raise their own queen. In either case, check the brood nest occasionally until you know you have a laying queen.
For other types of splits, see: