Beeyard Hints


  • Mini

Just a peek, for example check stores and out.
Often used in the winter at a window of opportunity on a day better than 40 degrees.

  • Basic

Examination of several frames in the area of brood activity, not necessarily in the cluster.
Generally referred to as a normal inspection.

Often the first real examination in the spring looking for queen activity. Above 50 degrees or flying weather best.

  • Thorough

All frames in area of activity
Generally done as the last examination in the fall and first major examination in the spring.
If a disease or pest problem is spotted or suspected this is the examination called for.
Splits (removing some frames with brood and food) can be done with this inspection.

  • Toe Nail

Completely inspected and cleaned even to the bottom board.
Look closely at every frame.
Preferable close to 70 degrees and above with practically no wind.
Multiple splits are generally done during this inspection.

  • Divides (splitting the mother hive evenly) are always done during this examination.

Manipulation (rearranging the furniture)

In spring to even out the colonies by moving brood and nurse bees when major nectar flow time approaches. There must be a productive queen in full action.
In spring at the first sign of a brood buildup the beekeeper has two choices. One: let them swarm and hope you can catch the swarm. Two: split or divide. At any rate room must be created above the brood nest.
In fall balance the colonies before winter. This equalizes the brood as well as the stores.

Out yard
As a quarantine yard, at least 4 to 5 miles from your other yard
As a production yard for a particular honey crop.
As a yard for raising queens or drones.
Your bee yard if living in urban or suburban areas with regulations against keeping bees.


  • Spring install:

Generally the easiest time of the year to replace a queen or install a queen is in a queenless colony. The resident queen and any queen cells must be eliminated about 2 to 3 days prior to the installation. Allow the queen to be released by the bees slowly through the queen candy. If the bees with the queen have eaten away considerable cage candy put a piece of duct tape over the hole to slow the release down. Slower the release is often better. Packages are the exception, however three or four days between the shaking and install allows for the bonding of the bees with the queen.

  • Fall install:

The most difficult of the installs. Under the best of circumstances success is against the beekeeper. Use a split method if at all possible. This is especially tough in a period of dearth when the bees are under severe stress and become very aggressive since robbers are on the prowl. Often the split is best even if it has to be created in a stand-alone nuc rather than a superimposed double screen separated split to be dropped after the existing queen is removed.

  • Emergency:

Make sure the colony is healthy then decide to combine with a weak colony or distribute the brood and bees around the other colonies. If there are no eggs then give them a frame with eggs and they will develop a queen. If a queen is available, re-queen.

  • Bank:

Hold Queens in reserve by placing the cages in a rack built into a frame.
Place the frame with the queens in a queen-less nuc. Shipping cages are satisfactory for a short time, however for longer periods a different arrangement is necessary.
Banking queens is not generally recommended. Nurse bees will not give equal care to all queens. Removal of Colonies

  • Structures:

This runs the gamut, however most are in houses. Two methods to consider:
Open the structure, vacuum the bees, remove all comb and debris and close the cavity. Generally the beekeeper does not do the closure. Unless all traces of the colony are removed swarms will try to re-enter the structure every year.
Bees can be trapped from a structure but the procedure is difficult and time-consuming

  • Trees:

If the tree is to be cut down, the section with the colony can be cut above and below their nest. Bees can be trapped out of a tree that is to be left standing.

Swarming: (Normal instinct to reproduce)

  • Normal aids to slow and often prevent swarming.

Young Queens (fall queens best)
Plenty of room both above and below the excluder.
Ample ventilation: screen bottom open during winter in Northern VA.
Maximum sunlight in the AM and shade in the late PM. Complete capped cells means it is generally too late to prevent swarms except in a split or forming nucs, which is the secondarily recommended procedure.

Providing adequate room above the brood nest is the recommended procedure due to the fact the queen when she begins to build the egg production volume will move up following the thermal the increased activity in the colony creates.

Drastic aids used to prevent swarming.
Remove the queen from the hive, leaving a mature cell. This breaks the brood cycle.
Divide or split (see below).

Splits (refer to the re-queen section above)

  • Divide: A split where the brood is equally divided and a new queen introduced. Standard method to increase colonies. Normally done early, before the nectar flow.
  • Mississippi Split© is actually a multiple divide where all brood frames are split into 3 – 4 separate colonies and all are given fresh queens except the original colony which retains the original queen.
  • Simple Split is to remove from the mother hive enough brood to form a new colony, given a new queen and this new colony is superimposed on the mother hive with a division board between.
  • Re-queen Split is done as in number 4 above with this exception. The queen from the mother colony goes with the frames removed from that colony. The mother colony now has no queen and preferably no eggs left behind. In three days re-examine the mother colony for beginning queen cells. If these are present, destroy them. Allow two additional days before re-inspection. There should be no evidence of a queen. Remove a large portion of frames with mature capped brood and give to another colony. At this time remove the division board so the colonies will recombine. This procedure needs to be done early in the awaking when drones first appear.

Highly recommended:

  • “Acey-Ducey” Split. Same as number 4 except the split is put into two four frame nucs above the division board. One will be used to re-queen the mother colony and the other nuc is sold or used for expansion.
  • “Modified 2 Queen” follows number 4 except use a division board with an entry in the opposite direction to the mother hive. Keep this configuration in place through the nectar flow. At the end of major nectar flow, select the better queen to head the colony, eliminate the weaker queen and remove division board to recombine the colony. (Very labor-intensive and not recommended for beginners.)

Maximum Honey Production Tips
Strive for maximum seasonal population year round.

Make sure your colonies have young top quality queens, the best your budget will allow. Support your local queen producer.

Locate your production yards in areas of known high nectar production which is easier said than done.
Time your queens to hit maximum egg production about 3-1/2 to 4 weeks prior to the main nectar flow.

Stay on top of pests and diseases.
Constantly monitor queen quality through proper and timely inspections.

Subscribe to and follow the highest level of Best Management Practices (BMP) you can.

Nucs and Their Configuration

  • Simple:

Remove three frames of brood from the mother colony. One frame of older brood and two with eggs and open larva. One frame of honey and one frame of mixed honey and pollen. Brood is placed in the center with honey on one side and the mixed frame on the other outside wall.
?Exception: when sitting on a double-width base place the brood to the common side with mixed frame next with honey frame on the outside wall. This is as if both were considered one box.

Trapping Nurse Bees is a trick that every beekeeper should know and most should use, especially if a Small-Scale Beekeeper

This may be done with single box or multiple boxes. Select the frames in the same manner and types described above (Simple, #1). The amount of brood taken from the mother colony will be determined by the intended use, whether a simple divide or a multiple divides.

Late in the afternoon (past noon) the selected frames are pulled from the mother colony and all bees are shaken into the mother hive. The bee-less frames are placed in an empty box or evenly distributed into boxes which will be placed over a queen excluder which is on top of the mother hive. No separate entry.
Over the night the nurse bees will move up to the brood.

Early the following AM carefully set the upper box with excluder aside and place a division board on top of the mother hive with entrance(s) closed. Place the split(s), less the queen excluder, on the division board. Place feeder, if needed, on the split(s).

Second day: if splits are to receive new queens then place them appropriately.
Third day: allow the nurse bees to fly by opening the entries.

That evening place a robber screen on the split(s) as they are weak and have no defense force in place.
When new queens have laid and the pattern is satisfactory then utilize nucs as planned.

  1. When a flow is on, be careful as the mother colony will need extra room, as will the splits so don’t be afraid to super, even the nucs..

Quiet Box

This is simply a box into which any frame or frames removed from the colony being worked are placed and a closure or lid is put in place to protect the removed frames from wandering scouts or robbers. This is often a nuc body or a hive body with a closed bottom and a cover often cloth. The Point being: keep the bees calm. This is often used in conjunction with drapes and ultimate care in manipulations. Always break and clear any bridging that might snag or drag across the face of the opposing frames causing honey to be exposed. Bees have extremely sensitive smell and can detect any open honey at great distances. The instinct of any self respecting bee is to clean up any spilled honey, so don’t send out an invitation.

Example: If the inner cover is opened and bridging is solid over the top bars simply rotate the cover 180 degrees and come back tomorrow with another hive body to be installed. Upon returning, open the hive and the bees will have cleaned the bridging up. There is very little smell and the new body is placed, thus the room the bees needed has been met.
During periods of dearth this simple apparatus will be a welcomed addition to the equipment inventory.


One of the most valuable tools a beekeeper can have in the toolbox. There are two styles. One is a rectangular metal rod that has a cloth panels on either of the long sides which is used to open the area over the frame which is to be pulled. To close the area simply rotate on it’s long axis. The cloth is heavy duck and the beekeepers of the UK keep this cloth damp. I have used it in the damp as well as dry and found it to be awkward.

The drapes that I have used extensively and found very satisfactory were introduce to me by the folks at The Bee Works in Canada. They are made of a piece of lightweight naugahyde®. There is a small piece of wood encapsulated in both long sides of each drape. Using one drape of a set of two, roll up about half the drape from a long side. Repeat this on the second drape. When placed over the hive body, the two rolled up sides are at the point where the frame is to be pulled. Roll back one drape to reveal the frame to be pulled. Pull the frame and place it in the quiet box. I use one of a second set of drapes to cover this quiet box. Now, roll one of drapes over the open area thus covering the opening. It is amazing how quiet the colony will remain when drapes are properly used.

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