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How many queens do I need to order?

As we enter January although it’s hard to grasp our colonies know that we have passed the winter solstice and are getting ready to ramp up for spring. With spring our focus shifts to splits and requeening of hives that maybe should have been requeened last year or didn’t overwinter well. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know ahead of time just how many queens you will need? Although there are numerous ways to make a split it’s relatively easy to estimate how many you can make regardless of how you do it.

Here are the questions you’ll need to answer:

  1. How many hives do I estimate will need to be split?
  2. How many frames of brood and resources (honey and pollen) do I expect in those hives?
  3. What size splits do I want to make? small, medium, or large? (I’ll explain)
  4. What equipment do I have on hand and what do I need to order?

Order bees

A splitable hive is typically two deep with no fewer than 8–10 frames of brood. And the size of the split is the number of frames of brood you’ll require for each split. Typically that means:

  • Small split: 1–3 frames of brood
  • Medium split: 3–4 frames of brood
  • Large split: 5+ frames of brood

Now that you know this, it should be rather easy to calculate how many queens you’ll need to order.


  • For double deep with 8–10 frames of brood making a medium split should require two queens (one to requeen the parent hive and one for the new split = two splits from that colony)
  • For double deep with 12–14 frames of brood making a medium split should require three queens (one to requeen the parent hive and two for the splits = three splits from that colony)
Follow this link to learn more about "Ordering and Receiving Queens"


Am I insinuating that you can’t split a single hive or a small double deep? No, not necessarily. This is where management plays a big role. A single deep with 5–7 frames of brood can be split, but as we learned that will be a small split. The most you could expect to order is two queens (one to requeen and one for the split).

In regard to the small double deep hive, this would be the least likely candidate to split. I would recommend requeening (order one queen), improve the population and hive health, and consider a summer split down the road.

Last, take advantage of time indoors to purchase, build, and paint your needed woodenware. For every split you’ll need at least one deep, ten frames, a lid, and a bottom board. If utilizing nuc boxes, you’ll need one for every split (other than the parent colony).

As you saw in January Tips, it is time to order bees and queens. Don’t procrastinate! There’s nothing worse than your bees being ready to split when you’re still days or even weeks away from your queen order coming in. Ask me how I know. Ugh, never again!

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