18
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Example of "warm" -> "cold":

warm
worm
word
cord
cold

Notice that it's a real word each time. Can you get from "bees" -> "hive" in 5 letter changes or fewer?

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    $\begingroup$ Do we agree that your example has four changes - not five? $\endgroup$ – Wolff Oct 22 '19 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ What counts as a "real word", exactly? $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Oct 22 '19 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Wolff imo that's a fact as the question is currently stated :) warm was changed but nothing changed into warm so warm itself does not count as a change. $\endgroup$ – EpicKip Oct 23 '19 at 7:01
52
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Bees -> Beds -> Bids -> Bide -> Hide -> Hive

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    $\begingroup$ I wrote some code back in 2009 for solving this kind of puzzle (using A* on the SCOWL American wordlist) and this is the exact sequence it finds :) $\endgroup$ – hobbs Oct 23 '19 at 17:37
17
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I find five solutions using only words in SOWPODS 2019, of which one has already been posted:

BEES, BEDS, BEDE, BIDE, HIDE, HIVE
BEES, BEDS, BIDS, BIDE, HIDE, HIVE
BEES, DEES, DEVS, DIVS, DIVE, HIVE
BEES, DEES, DIES, DIVS, DIVE, HIVE
BEES, LEES, LEVS, LEVE, LIVE, HIVE

Of these, I expect the third to be the most popular with the Stack Exchange crowd...

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    $\begingroup$ I think you mean "the Stack Overflow crowd"... $\endgroup$ – S.S. Anne Oct 24 '19 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ @JL2210 Unless you assume the two overlap enough for the preference to be maintained in the SE crowd ;) $\endgroup$ – Jasper Oct 25 '19 at 8:18
13
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With at least one obscure word:

BEES
BIES
HIES
HIVS
HIVE

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  • $\begingroup$ This is the only answer that meets the "five or fewer" rule. :) +1 $\endgroup$ – Duck Oct 23 '19 at 4:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Duck Its 5 changes, so the first word is not counted as one, so the other answers meet that rule too. This one however does the 'fewer' part, which is awesome. $\endgroup$ – EpicKip Oct 23 '19 at 7:00
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    $\begingroup$ @EpicKip To me it looks like five states (words) with four changes, not five. $\endgroup$ – andselisk Oct 23 '19 at 7:11
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    $\begingroup$ @andselisk That is exactly what I mean which is why I said This one however does the 'fewer' part. I was just quoting the question when I said 5 changes $\endgroup$ – EpicKip Oct 23 '19 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think abbreviations should count, almost any two to five letter combination is abbreviation that was already used somewhere. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Oct 23 '19 at 13:17
3
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Four changes using a couple of archaic/loan words and an acronym:

bees → BEVsbevebive → hive

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    $\begingroup$ Hi. I don't think acronym can be a valid "word" for this type of puzzle. $\endgroup$ – Luke Oct 23 '19 at 6:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Luke Hi. HIV — human immunodeficiency virus — is also an acronym, and is used in another answer. Since OP hasn't mentioned use of acronyms is prohibited, I assumed it's fine to use one. $\endgroup$ – andselisk Oct 23 '19 at 6:26
2
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BEES -> BERS -> HERS -> HERE -> HIRE -> HIVE.

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2
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  1. bees
  2. bens (high mountains)

  3. bins (trash cans)

  4. bine (plant stem, esp. hops - yum!)

  5. hine (male Asian elephants without tusks; or an obsolete term for a servant)

  6. hive

I only had to check number 5 for validity, I'm pleased to say.

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1
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One archaic word :

Bees -> Bets -> Bits -> Bite -> Bive -> Hive

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1
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5 changes, a little archaic...

bees
rees
revs
reve
rive
hive

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1
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Not sure if this has already been posted so trying to take an odd route:

0. bees
1. pees
2. pies
3. hies (old English)
4. HIVs (human immunodeficiency viruses)
5. hive

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