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Condensing a Weak Hive

Updated: Apr 30

One of the best things you can do for a struggling hive is to reduce the amount of space they have to work in. That can mean reducing from two boxes down to one, or from a ten-frame down to a nuc box. Here, I will show how I choose the best frames to stay in the condensed hive and how they are organized.

Condensing a hive is all about choosing the best of your frames to fill the new, smaller, space and organizing them in a way that will make sense to the bees. Keep in mind that bees need brood, food, and room for the queen to lay eggs so you will need to choose frames that provide each of these.

I like to think of a hive from the middle out in both directions. You want to set up your hive with brood in the middle (choose your best 4-6 brood frames).

Now, if those frames also have lots of room for the queen to lay eggs, then you will want to put your food frames adjacent to the brood on either side, and blank/empty frames to the very outside.

If your brood frames are jam-packed, then you will want to add a blank/empty frame between your brood and food.

Once you've condensed the hive, you want to start treating it like a brand new hive/nuc. Feeding them can be very helpful (don't worry about the time of year; a weak hive is not making honey anyway!). Once they are active on 7-8 frames, then you can think about putting that second box back on top.

If they continue to decline, then you will need to consider requeening or combining them with another hive.

Looking for more?

Looking for more beekeeping education? You can find my virtual, on-demand beginner and intermediate courses at

Or if you'd prefer a more tailored experience, you can join my mentorship group at


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