Went today to do some work for someone's hives. One hive has been suriving for 4 years now, no kind of working or maintanence at all, and no honey harvesting. I wanted to get the hive to a workable state today, remove a bunch of burr comb and propolis and so on and so forth. So I opened up the existing hive and and immediately thought "wow, this hive is full of bees." So. Many. Bees. I was thinking I would pull some capped brood to put into the newly installed hive (that I had done for them last weekend). I spotted her majesty after only 2 frames, and pulled her frame and put it in an empty box because I was going to be rooting around in this hive for a long time getting it workable again. So I'm standing over the box where I had put the queen, talking to the guy I'm helping teach keeping and about what we'll do next to split up the work to get this hive cleaned up....and then, no lie, the hive started to swarm right then. Whole group of them started clouding in front of the hive, and more and more piled out to the entrance and started up the sides. RIGHT THEN! I'm sure they were thinking "well now, wait a minute, our queen was just here all packed and ready, where did she go?" I conferred with the owner and we decided to go ahead with a split, to try to establish 3 hives for them. Went through the box and split up food, brood, and tiny brood frames between the two boxes, and left every frame I saw with a queen cell in the original. There were three frames with extremely young brood, swimming in royal jelly, and I gave 2 of those frames to the original, and put one in the new hive. Each hive got set up with 10 fully drawn frames, with about 6 frames of brood in all stages, and the rest food frames, in their bottom box. In each top box, they have 10 old frames, cleaned out well as we could; they're not all down to foundation, they have a bit of comb on some of them. . Right before closing up, we got the queen from where she'd been waiting and she went into the new hive. We also shook a couple frames of extra bees into the new hive. Then we closed them up, and covered up the new hive entrance with some screen. The owner is going to put out large top feeder pails for them tomorrow (ones that sit on top the inner cover, with access through that inner cover hole), one for each hive. I told him to remove the screen from the entrance of the new hive on Thursday morning; the feeder is big enough to cover the inner lid hole, and will still keep the new hive foragers from getting out until Thursday. I'll go back out in a couple of weeks and check on everyone's queens; at this time we now have the original hive with no queen, the new split with the existing queen, and an install from last week (which I checked on and she's out and about, but no brood yet.) There is a part of me thinking I could have let them swarm, the hive had PLENTY of population, but this man does want to get up to 5 hives, and so now he has three. Heh! Worst case, around August I'll see how they are all doing and can combine populations if needed before heading into winter, and we'll be back to 2 hives this year as planned. Crazy!