I took an image from another question and roughly repurposed it in paint. Here's my question:

Can a beetle move through gaps that would otherwise restrict a queen/ant/spider?

enter image description here

That is, can the circled beetle get to the desired field in 1 move (yellow track), or would he need to first climb over one piece (as illustrated in the red).

If that is legal, it brings me to my follow up question. Could the beetle move in the following way, or would it temporarily break the hive in between transition (1 hive rule) ?

enter image description here

It appears that here, the beetle would be in constant contact with the hive, even though that beetle is clearly the anchor.

4 Answers 4


Here is a quote from book Play Hive Like a Champion: Strategy, Tactics and Commentary by Randy Ingersoll with foreword by John Yianni, Designer of Hive.

According to section 2.2, page 6:

Note that the ability to climb on the hive can be thought of as a circumvention of the Freedom to Move rule, but while moving on the same level the Beetle is subject to the Freedom to Move rule.

It is pretty clear, that contrary to Steve's answer, the yellow route is not a legal move.

There is also a good discussion of beetle move rules here

See similar question answered here

  • I don't find the rules to be as clear as that quote. I would tend to interpret the rules the other way; see my answer.
    – AndyT
    Jul 16, 2018 at 14:32
  • @AndyT There are also numerous computer implementation of this game. I know web one on Boardgame Arena and there is also a Steam game. They all seem to agree with this quote. It seems that this is how the game is played by most people. In private games one of course is free to interpret and even change the rules they way they like ;) Jul 16, 2018 at 20:39
  • Given a clearly written rule that says the beetle is exempt and a commentary that contradicts that rule, I'm sticking to the rule as written. Commentary is fine to resolve ambiguities, but the rule is not the least bit ambiguous.
    – Steve B
    Jul 16, 2018 at 23:47
  • @SteveB Given how both you and AndyT misinterpreted it, I would say it's ambiguous. Jul 16, 2018 at 23:58
  • I didn't misinterpret it. Your premise is false. At best your reasoning is circular.
    – Steve B
    Jul 17, 2018 at 0:19


From the FAQ on boardgamegeek.com: If a beetle wants to move from A to B by passing between C and D, then check the height of those four spaces (with the Beetle removed) and refer to this validation method:

If the shortest stack of tiles of C and D is taller than the tallest stack of tiles of A and B, then the beetle can't move to A. In all other scenarios the beetle is free to move from B to A.

In your example, the start and end points A and B are both height zero (with the beetle removed), while the adjacent points C and D are both height 1. So MIN(C,D) > MAX(A,B), so the beetle can't move from A to B.

And note that this method also confirms the red two-move path in the first picture is valid.


From the English rules published by the publisher here:


The Beetle, like the Queen Bee, moves only one space per turn. Unlike any other creature though, it can also move on top of the Hive.

There are further words on what the Beetle does when on top of the Hive, but they're not relevant here.

Freedom to move

The creatures can only move in a sliding movement. If a piece is surrounded to the point that it can no longer physically slide out of its position, it may not be moved. The only exceptions are the Grasshopper, which can jump into or out of a space, and the Beetle, which can also climb up or down.

The key discussion point here is the word "also" in "the Beetle, which can also climb up or down". "Also" meaning "as well as", but "as well as" what? The Beetle can do some things as well as being able to do what the Grasshopper can do, i.e. jump into or out of a space as well as climbing up or down? Or the Beetle can climb up or down as well as being able to slide?

My native English speaker interpretation of that wording is that the Beetle can jump into or out of a space as well as being able to slide. The Beetle can climb up or down, but that doesn't imply it can do both in one turn. Therefore the move in yellow would be disallowed.

From the same rules, under the Moving section it states:

**If a piece is the only connection between two part so the Hive, it may not be moved. (See 'One Hive rule' p9)

That rule on p9 stating:

One Hive rule

The pieces in play must be linked at all times. At no time can you leave a piece stranded (not joined to the Hive) or separate the Hive in two.

In an example the One Hive rule has the text:

Moving the black Queen Bee to a position where it re-links the Hive is also an illegal move, as the Hive is left unlinked while the piece is in transit.

I see no difference between your second diagram and the example move: you're taking a piece that is the only link, and moving it to an adjacent position. While moving it appears that the moving piece is not considered to be connected to the Hive. Therefore your red move would be disallowed.

  • 3
    I don't think your yellow path interpretation is correct. The grasshopper has to jump whereas the Beetle can shift normally or step up or down
    – Veskah
    Jul 16, 2018 at 20:37
  • 1
    The Beetle moves in a sliding movement like the Queen but also can jump up and down the hive. Pretty sure that's what the 'also' means. The yellow move is not allowed. This is how gameboardarena.com works
    – MStodd
    Dec 30, 2021 at 6:30
  • Edited to cover Veskah and MStodd's comments, as I now believe them to be correct.
    – AndyT
    May 12, 2022 at 9:15

The beetle can use the yellow route. The rules expressly exempt the beetle from the "freedom to move" rule.

In re the 2nd question, that move would not temporarily break the hive, but it would not be legal. The rule on page 3 is that "[i]f a piece is the only connection between two parts of the Hive, it may not be moved."

  • 7
    I think this answer is wrong. The beetle's exempt only works because it climbs on top. When it does not climb on top it still has to obey that rule. @sahimat Jul 16, 2018 at 1:59
  • Definitely wrong. Jul 19, 2018 at 22:39

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