Florida Beekeeping: Tips For Splitting Hives

Beekeepers must have good management practices within their apiaries to succeed. One of these practices is splitting their hives when necessary to avoid the loss of bees through swarming.

A swarm of bees on a tree. Swarming is a natural process of honey bee colony reproduction. Photo Credit: Jonael Bosques, UF/IFAS Extension Hardee County.


What is swarming?

Swarming is a natural process of honey bee colony reproduction. When swarming occurs, half or more bees leave with the queen to look for a new place to live, while other bees remain in the old colony and produce a new queen. Honey bees can swarm for multiple reasons:

  • The honey bee colony lacks resources such as nectar and pollen.
  • The honey bee colony is running out of space because of the amount of bees in the hive.
  • The honey bee colony is annoyed by their surroundings such as loud noises.
A nuc box is normally use when making honey bee splits. Photo Credit: Luis Rodriguez, UF/IFAS Extension, Polk County.


What is the split of a hive?

Although swarming is natural, beekeepers must maintain swarming control practices in their apiaries such as splitting. Splitting a hive means artificially dividing a hive into 2 or more colonies when necessary. Normally beekeepers will use a nuc (Nucleus) box when doing a split. A nuc box is a 5-deep frame box made from corrugated plastic where the new split colony (half of the divided colony) is going to be moved. On the old box (Langstroth), normally the other half of the bees will remain there. Is it important to remember that a queen bee must be present in both colonies, which means the beekeeper will either need to introduce a new queen or let the bees produce a new one, in one of the colonies. Beekeepers split their hive for 2 main reasons:

  • To avoid the loss of honey bees through swarming.
  • To create more colonies in their apiaries.


Tips for Splitting Hives video

Splitting a hive is relatively easy but certain considerations should be taken before performing the task. For this reason, agricultural agents from Hardee and Polk County have developed a short video with the purpose of providing tips on how to successfully perform a honey bee hive split.

To watch the video click on the link below:


Splitting is a good management practice that all beekeepers must incorporate within their apiaries to avoid the loss of bees through swarming and create more bee colonies. It is important to maintain a balance of both resources and bees when doing a hive split.


For more information about swarm control click here:


For more information about nuc boxes click here:


For a Spanish version of this blog click here:

Apicultura en Florida: Consejos para Dividir las Colmenas


University of Florida is an Equal Opportunity Institution


Avatar photo
Posted: October 20, 2023

Category: Agribusiness, Agriculture, Farm Management, Livestock, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Beekeeping, Bees, Florida_farms, Hive_splits, Honeybees, Polksmallfarms, Small Farms, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Polk County

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories