When you’re making a split, why don’t you instead take the existing queen to the nuc box?

Q: When you’re making a split, why don’t you instead take the existing queen to the nuc box? In other words, why not add the (new) queen in the parent hive and move the existing queen to a new hive? Wouldn’t that better satisfy her possible urge to swarm?

Beekeeping expert Cleo Hogan fielded this question for us. (By the way, Cleo is again a speaker at June’s Field Days.)

A: Most often that is what I do. You will be taking a smaller number of bees, in the nuc. Keep in mind that while you are making the split there may be thousands of bees in the field and buzzing around the hive. I think it is better to take the queen who is already laying and familiar with the bees who are going with her to the nuc and the new location. If you make the split and put the new queen in the nuc, it may be a few days before she starts laying—valuable time. The area is new to her, and the bees are new to her; an increased chance of rejection of the new queen.

And yes it will reduce her urge to swarm since she is in a smaller container with fewer bees, at a new location.

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