Spring is an excellent time to divide beehives. At this time of year, bees are instinctively building their populations, and the bees themselves have a natural inclination to swarm (which is their own method of dividing). By dividing a colony when the population is on the upswing, you as a thoughtful beekeeper are working with the natural flow of nature and the bees, rather than against them. It is at this time of year that dividing a colony has the most natural and the least stressful impact on a beehive.
When it comes to dividing bee colonies, there are probably as many methods as there are beekeepers! Some beekeepers split colonies into two, others into three or four. Some make four-frame nucs, some make smaller or larger nucs – or even full-size colony divides. Some shake bees out of strong colonies and make their own packages. Some beekeepers look for the queen up front, others wait until after they make the divide. No one way is right or wrong. It is up to each beekeeper to uncover the method that works best both for the individual beekeeper, as well as, of course, the bees.
One of the most tried-and-true ways of dividing a strong colony is to prepare a four-frame nuc. A typical four-frame nuc consists of one frame of honey, two frames of brood, one frame of pollen, and a new queen bee. In our video, “Preparing a Four-Frame Nuc,” the beekeepers at Wildflower Meadows will show you one of our own favorite methods of preparing a high-quality four-frame nuc – one that enables a beekeeper to divide a colony without even having to look for the queen!