honey bee management

Taranov split in photos


Since I’ve written many posts about Taranov splits, I’m not going to belabor the whys and hows. Still, I’m always amazed that it works so well. For me, it is the best way to split into non-compatible equipment. In this case, I was splitting a top-bar hive into a Langstroth.

I had thought this hive wasn’t very strong until I was working in the garden and heard the distant hum of a hive preparing to swarm. I checked all my other hives first, found nothing, and then checked the top-bar hive. Sure enough, the bees were restless and darting. Luckily, it started to rain, but I knew I would have to split as soon as the sun reappeared.

If you want more specific information on how to do a Taranov split, I’ve listed some prior posts at the end of this one.



I keep changing the fabric I use to hold the swarm. This was an old terrycloth towel that I cut and stapled to the underside of the ramp. It worked well, but I should have used more staples. Quite a few bees got between the board and the fabric. © Rusty Burlew.


I measure the divide between ramp and landing board to four inches. In this photo the hive opening is stuffed with rags to keep them inside—they were itching to swarm. © Rusty Burlew.


Now I tape the sheet onto the board and add staples. Tape alone has come loose and staples alone have ripped the fabric, so now I use both. © Rusty Burlew.


I shook each top-bar over the sheet, but if they had swarm cells, I used a brush. Unfortunately, I didn’t always see all the swarm cells under the bees. Here there are two cells on one side and one on the other. © Rusty Burlew.


I use two picnic benches set parallel to each other as a hanging rack. I pull one bar at a time, shake it, then hang it. © Rusty Burlew.


I found sixteen capped swarm cells, and two uncapped. I cut some of the cells off to add to the new split, since I don’t know where the queen went. © Rusty Burlew.


Before I was done shaking frames, the bees were already marching up the ramp. © Rusty Burlew.


I took this photo just after shaking the last frame. © Rusty Burlew.


I had the sheet to one side of the hive and the benches on the other. I usually arrange it differently, but a load of cordwood was recently dumped right where I needed to work. © Rusty Burlew.


This is what I call the “great divide.” The swarming bees cluster under the ramp and the foragers return to the original hive only four inches away. © Rusty Burlew.


A good-sized cluster hangs from the ramp. To get it into the Langstroth, I just pick up the whole ramp and bang it into the top box. I use an empty box on top of a full deep, which acts like a funnel to get them in. I was working alone, so I have no photos of that process.  © Rusty Burlew.


I wasn’t sure if that cluster at the peak comprised swarmers or stayers, so I brushed it into the Langstroth as well. They will go wherever they want, but I gave them an option. © Rusty Burlew.


Here is the Langstroth ready to move. I used inner covers on the top and bottom, taped shut with no openings. Strapped together, it was easy to put in the wheelbarrow. © Rusty Burlew.


At home in my messy garden (I’m working on that). I gave them a feeder, a frame of honey, and a few capped queen cells. © Rusty Burlew.

Related Posts

How to prevent swarms with a Taranov board

The great divide: a taranov split

Details of the Taranov split

A toast to Taranov


  • Rusty
    As usual, great photos and discussion. I am a bit unclear.. It appears that you knock all of the bees of the to be swarming hive on to the sheet, then when the (stayers or the goers?) crawl back into the swarm hive you place the remaining bees on the sheet into the (swarm hive or the new hive?)

    I would think that the goers would want the new hive and the stayers would go back to the old hive, but I can’t tell by your narritive or photos.

  • Great pictures as always, Rusty. I had at least one hive swarm while I was away on business. They now live in a pipe with an adapter so I can put regular 10 frame Langstroth boxes on. Of course they found the one hole in the pipe instead of moving into a nice trap. Maybe next spring I will be home to keep a better eye on them.

  • These photos are absolutely beautiful. Seeing these makes the Taranov board finally clear to me. Thank you so much!

  • Thanks to you, Rusty, I have successfully split my hive for the first time using th KISS philosophy. I did not use the Taranto method, but after much worrying because my hive was busting with bees, I read your info on splits, watched some videos and wound up doing the walk away split. My mentor was very concerned because I’m a Newby, but he said it was a good split after his inspection. Now I have two hives. I just want to say thank you for your wonderful common sense methods and I have learned a lot from you. I keep bees organically and as simple as possible allowing them to do.the work they are designed for. I want to provide nuc colonies and harvest some honey. Mainly, I am interested in increasing bee populations.

    If you have a moment sometime, could you tell us what you do about wasps going in the hive and if there is a method of preventing this?

  • Great photos, Rusty.

    Having read this post and previous ones, I am not clear why you put some of the capped queen cells into the new hive, as presumably the old queen is in there.

    In the old hive do you reduce the capped queen cells down to one? If not, don’t you risk the colony swarming anyway with the first virgin queen to emerge?

    • Merry,

      1. You say, “presumably the old queen is in there.” That is your presumption, not mine. In the captions, I say: “I cut some of the cells off to add to the new split, since I don’t know where the queen went.” I can’t presume the queen is where I want her to be. My presumption is that she could be anywhere.

      2. I would never reduce queen cells down to one. Not all queen cells hatch and not all queen cells produce healthy queens. A colony produces multiple cells for a reason, and the system has worked well for about 100 million years, long before mankind presumed to know which queen cell to leave.

      3. With this kind of split you are producing an artificial swarm. Once the swarm impulse is satisfied, they will not swarm until and unless the impulse to swarm recurs. If the swarm impulse recurs, they can swarm whether or not they have a queen. There is only so much micro-managing you can do.

  • Hi Rusty,

    What a brilliant method!!! I only wish I had perused your blog more thoroughly prior to last Thursday…
    My strongest bee colony swarmed (twice) in spite of numerous strategies to thwart their efforts. I had suspicions that the natives were restless. When, oh when will I pay more attention to my intuition?

    My husband did send me amazing photos and a video of the event so I did sort of get to experience it. Next time it’s a Taranov board for sure!!

    I will probably need to muster some bravado first though! It seems quite daunting to shake out an entire colony of bees!!!

    Thank you for the wonderful photos and explanation!

    • Funny, Adrienne. It was daunting the first time, but I’ve done it enough times that it now seems normal. But I still make a list of everything I will need and get it all ready before I start. Once you start, it goes quickly. But do allow about 90 minutes after you get done shaking for them to walk in.

  • Thanks for the wasp info, Rusty. I saw a black wasp venture in my new hive I have from the split I said the other day. I haven’t seen any more go in and upon inspection today, there is no sign of the one that did dare to go in.

    I have 5 queen cells on 4 frames in the new hive so I put some in the lower box with a queen excluder between that box and the remaining cells that I put in the upper box. I will make nucs with the extra queens if I can catch them in time. They should be hatching in a couple of weeks.

    The more I work with the bees, the more in love I fall with them.

  • Hello Rusty;

    I did a split like this last year and it was very cool to watch.

    One of my questions is how soon would you do this split? This morning I was at the bee yard and the one hive is planning to swarm. Many drones, several uncapped queen cells on two frames, a hyper kind of energy . . .

    My thought is that I have to wait until the queen cups are capped? Today is Tuesday and next I can get to the bees it will be Friday. Next Saturday I will be moving the hives several kilometres away to better fields.

    So, capped queen cups or not, would it be best to do the split this upcoming Friday? The hives will be sealed up for the move (this moving process is freaking me out a bit because I feel like U am going by the seat of my pants and totally out of my experience comfort level) so, I could move them to the new spot and split them as soon as I unload them off of the truck.

    My other question is: With the split, it is the young nurse bees that go to the new hive so who then looks after the remaining brood? Do some of the older foragers revert to nurse bees? I have been looking in different places to try and find the answer but so far no success.

    Thanks Sharon

    • Sharon,

      1. You don’t need to wait until the queen cells are capped. Swarms often leave just before the cells are capped, so you should do it soon.

      2. Usually a combination of foragers and nurses ends up in each hive. But in any case, nurse bees will be hatching continuously from the mother hive, so they will have plenty of bees to care for brood. It’s the new colony that needs a good supply of nurses because it won’t have brood hatching for at least three weeks.

  • Rusty, I noticed you moved the split with “inner covers on the top and bottom, taped shut with no openings.”

    I cover the openings with screening when I move a swarm or colony to allow them ventilation. I’ve always been surprised at how much heat a bunch of bees generates and I’ve heard people who sealed their swarm in a container say their swarm was dead by the time they got them home. Presumably, you didn’t have to take yours very far.

    • JoAnne,

      You’re right, of course. I gave mine a ride in the wheelbarrow from the front yard to the back yard. They were locked up all of five minutes.

  • I have found a taranov split is not necessary for separating stayers and leavers. By just pulling brood frames from my incipient swarm box with all bees on the brood, and taking them, usually two to a new hive across the garden, the foraging bees will return to the first hive, while the nurse bees stay on the brood. You may need to bring more bees to shake into the new hive and the foragers will then return to the original. Make sure you have eggs in the brood frames as then the early 3 day old brood will be assured. Then they make them into queen cells and the queen flies on her mating flight and thus returning to her new hive. If she does not return the bees will be hopelessly queenless and will need the newspaper method of re-introduction after her non-return. You should have more than one hive in your bee yard which makes things easier. I have never bought bees and use swarm traps if necessary. I treat with oxalic acid vapor for mites as that is the biggest winter killer other than moisture dripping on the bees in winter. ventilate

    • Paul,

      I don’t think a Taranov split is every necessary, but it’s one of the most instructive things a new beekeeper can do to learn about age-related behavior in honey bees. I recommend everyone try it at least once.

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