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A Donor - Feeder Hive

I want to show the advantages of owning a “feeder hive”. The task of grabbing a frame of brood from a strong colony can be quite daunting. Especially if the colony has 2 honey supers above the brood.

A feeder hive can have a queen that normally would have been squashed in the event of re-queening a hive. Alternatively it could be a recently caught swarm, or it could be a split from a strong colony as a result of swarm control.

I’m showing the advantages of a feeder hive as well as an observation hive for any new beekeeper.



I am considering doing something similiar except for honey. I have 4 hives and am planning to use 1 hive to put traditional supers on and the other 3 will have the flow frames on them. All hives will have double deep brood boxes below the supers. The 4rth will generate extra honey frames for the other 3 to make sure they all have good honey supplies going into winter beyond the double deeps.




Hi Joe, that sounds like a good idea to me:)

Hello Jeff,

You video is very timely: I plan to install a colony in my new long hive later this week. I was thinking to add frames of brood from other hives to see if I can give that colony a good kick start- and hopefully take advantage of a autumn flow we seem to be having.

The colony I am going to install is on 10 frames and reasonably strong. I was thinking to add three more frames of brood to it- one taken from each of another of my hives. Does this sound like a good idea?

the advantage of my long hive is that I can go from 1 brood frame all the way up to around 16- using follower boards I don’t need to keep it to the size of standard boxes. I can also move my vertical queen excluder up and down the box- so I can put frames with brood and honey on them on the honey side of the excluder to let brood hatch out- and the rest of the frame be filled out with honey.

Hi @JeffH ,
I thinking about building an observation hive and was wondering how long you can go with one frame. Instead of 2 frames like you have in yours would one frame normal width but, say 800mm deep work. Or have one normal deep 800 mm wide.

When I get around to it, my plan is to locate it in the study with an external entrance.

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Wow, that is a VERY deep frame! :blush:

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I was thinking that the bees may start at the top and build down.
800mm was my second guess. My first guess was a metre but I thought “that’s a bit over the top”. :relaxed:

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Great video Jeff, as always. I keep a nuc or two to overwinter spare queens and to use as donor hives. Invaluable source of all things that bees might need if the colony goes wrong.


Hi Busso, I start off with one frame of brood, bees & queen with a foundationless frame on either side of that frame. It’s amazing how the bees can buildup from just one frame. I have a third frame in that hive. It is on the other side of the full frame & it is similar in progress to the outside frame in the video.

I would stick to full depth frames. They are interchangeable with frames in your other hives. Assuming you are using all full depth frames. It wont be long & I’ll be taking the two outside frames out & replacing them with 2 more foundationless frames. I’ll put the 2 frames I take out into a weak colony.

It’s really convenient to stick to the one size frame for everything.

In case anyone’s wondering why the bottom of the new comb is straight. It’s because that frame is wired up.

Would you believe that colony was preparing to swarm a while back. I had to weaken it out.

@busso, how would you go with 2 or 3 full depth frames on top of each other? That way you’re guaranteed to see the queen. Plus you can interchange those frames whenever you like.

Hi Jack, that sounds like a great idea. I like the idea of a long Lang hive. However I can see a few downsides to the LL hive. The main one being that it is hard to move around.

Yep- mine is pretty heavy and unwieldy and I haven’t even got bees in it yet. However I designed it with handles at each end like a stretcher so two people can carry it with relative ease. And it isn’t as long as some I have seen- essentially it’s the equivalent of two ten frame boxes side by side. Ultimately the idea is this type of hive is more for the backyard beek- it’s not really meant to be moved that often.

My main concern at this stage is whether the bees will take to the flow frames all at one end. In theory it should work like a top bar hive- but I haven’t seen anyone have success yet using flow frames in this type of set up. I’m slightly concerned that the bees might get lost in the flow frames and not find their way my back through the vertical queen excluder.

On that note: what’s the deal with having an entrance into a super so foragers can get into it without having to go through the brood frames? My guess is there isn’t much of an issue where the queen would ever leave the hive- then go back in via a separate entrance? I have designed mine with an entrance straight into the flow frames- I can open and close it easily. I am hoping that will help this set up work better for the bees

This reminds me of a story my friend told me- after she had a baby- her auntie said to her, “when will you have another one: one child is practically like none at all?”

I have seen videos of bee removals where the natural comb was probably more than 2 metres long. I think 800mm is not conventional, but with the right bees, you might have a great hive there! :wink:

Thanks Jeff but I am in the process of converting all my Langs to frames which are across the box rather than along so by mid next Spring I will have split my hive to two and have no standard frames at all.
I have two more boxs with ledges to take the frames X wise and I am in the process of making the frames to fit. They are just so easy for me to handle.

Ah the penny has dropped. Just visualized your 2 or 3 frames on top of each other. You could slide them in and out from the side on couple of angle iron runners. Each would have their own runners of course. I could utilize the standard Lang frames I am getting rid of.
Or run 2 or 3 end to end. Maybe the bees might have trouble adapting to single frames end to end.
EDIT: Off course there would have to be pathways for the bees to move
between frames.

Thanks Jeff,


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