Visiting with a beekeeper entering his second year, he was asking about buying queens because he felt his overwintered, first-year hives will need to be split. That's what he was told by experienced beekeepers.
I talked to another beekeeper who bought someone else's hives over the winter, and said, "And you know, they'll have to be split." He said it as if there was no other way, but he didn't seem to think it was a burden, just a normal thing in the course of spring beekeeping. He splits all his hives every spring.
I have no argument that splitting hives greately reduces swarming, in fact, it may be the easiest, least-cost method of swarm prevention, and the method which appears to the choice of 99% of the beekeepers I rub elbows with. Splitting hives also replaces the winter losses.
I choose not to split in the spring, working other methods like reversing and checkerboarding. I've also had some bad luck with the quality of the queens sent through the mail, then fighting the fickle spring weather that I prefer to raise my own summer queens and split on the backside of the nectar flow (usually after the 4th of July here in Southeast Missouri). I'm also under the impression that stronger hives (yes, taller too.) make more honey than two weaker colonies that were split.
I'd like to hear other opinions as to spring splits, particularly those who choose not to. All the best,