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Adding a super in a heatwave

Hi all, newbee here. Have had a flow hive for three months, it is 90%
full and time to put a super on. I want to keep single brood box till I get a little experience. The question is we are heading into a heatwave with four days over 40 degrees Celsius topping with a 47 on Friday, so will adding a super help with cooling the hive or make it harder to control the temperature? Should I wait till weather has passed or put it on?

We were discussing this topic this morning.

I would add the super before it gets hotter. Make sure you do not have any ventilation open, provide shade, insulate the hive the best you can, and have a lot of water close by.

If you can have a wet towel on the hive will help with cooling, especially you can have the ends hanging in a bucket of water (a great tip from @Semaphore)

People much more experienced than me will have their say below.

Thanks, I have built a shade cloth shelter but was wondering about whether the extra space was a good thing or bad thing mostly, have plenty of water close by :hot_face:

Doing the reading and having hot summers to contend with myself I would vote for adding a super, provided it has some drawn comb or Flow frames. The added space issue will tip in favor of added insulation and room for air & bee circulation with your strong population.

Hang in there all :hot_face:

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Today my friend sent
Me this image of one of my hives in his apiary:

I know that hive is bursting at the seams so I went over and out an ideal with empty combs on it. It’s going to be over 40 every day for the next 5 days. That hive would have suffered badly without the ideal.

Then my brother sent me this:

It’s a variation on the wet towel theme. This one gives the bees a cool landing board- allows them to drink directly at the entrance and presumably fan the cool air into the entrance. Nice! I’ll be adding some of these to hives tomorrow


What a brilliant idea, the towel in the water.


I would add the super as doing that will reduce the radiated heat inside the hive, If you see heavy bearding with your hive it is being caused by heat as your colony is still small and building up. The heat build up will be up in the super.

One of the things I’ve been considering with the heat is to get an old corflute board from a real estate agent (I’ve found them OK about giving me old boards in the past) and putting it printed side down over the roof of the hive. It’s light, reflective, already has air channels, and is easy to fix in place with a staple gun or string etc.


We just had 5 days in a row above 40, highest being 43 not quite 47. I added the flow sure to one of my hives just on the weekend before. I did it out of necessity as the brood box was bursting with bees.

I think that hive coped better than my other single brood box and noticed far less bearding.


I think the best strategy is to do whatever it takes to keep the roof cool. The cooler, the better. I’d prefer to do that than to add another super.

The wet towel on top, hanging in a bucket of water is a brilliant idea. However, I’m not too sure about the same at the entrance.

I don’t think it is a good idea to increase humidity inside the hive or entrance. My understanding is that they cool the hive by evaporation, which would be significantly harder with increased humidity.

well- the thing is- the humidity rises as a function of them cooling the hive with water, and also due to nectar evaporating. So the humidity is going to rise no matter what on a very hot day. And the air outside is very low humidity here in SA. The bees need to bring in lot of water on a hot day to achieve the cooling affect- the damp towel gives them access to it immediately at the door- and they can fan the cool air in as it rises off the towel. If they thought it was creating too much humidity I guess they could fan in the opposite direction but I don’t think they would.

The problem with humidity getting too high is mostly a concern when the hive is overcrowded. When the bees become hot they become agitated- when they become agitaed they move more and create even more heat. When they are crowded this can set off a chain reaction. That hive has three boxes on it with a hive mat- and a screened bottom. I think the damp warmer air would rise up to the top- then flow down the cooler walls (the sides not directly in the sun) and out the mesh floor. This will cause more warm dry air to be drawn in in the middle of the screen floor.

Basically I think the wet towel will aid far more than it hinders. On that hive my brother did it when he noticed that the landing board was extremely hot in the full sun.


I use oversized corflute on top of all my hives. They provide some cooling of the top lid as well as the overhanging fronts acts as a veranda to restrict water ingress into the entrance during rain.
Mine are sourced from old election signs.


Thanks for all the feed back. Went ahead and put the flow super on tonight, mid forties for the next rhree days. Have shade cloth and plenty of water, fingers crossed. Next question, last inspection a few days ago I when I noticed it was pretty full, and destroyed one swarm cell. Now with the super on how long before you inspect the brood? If they don’t take to the flow super are they still likely to want to swarm?

I inspect my brood in my hives every 2 to 3 weeks regardless of it it is just a brood box hive or has a super on it. The reason for inspecting the brood is to check on the health of it and that you will have some advance warning of a future issue. I also lift the roof on the ‘flip side’ week so that I can check for a nectar flow, capped honey and the general mood of the bees.

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I am in Sydney and am expecting a hot one tomorrow, I use umbrella’s for the vulnerable hives in the sun all day long. It definitely helps. As for adding a super, if the hive is full, just do it, I think you will find that they will be fine.

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today it is sweltering 44c with two more days to go. bees are drinking massive quantities of water. Today I fitted more bee ‘emergency drink/cooling stations’ to hives. You can tell they LOVE it. The one pictured below the bees marched on 10 seconds after I put it in place. Basically a bucket of water with a towel in the bucket with one end draped over the lip:

On one hive the bees have decided it’s the only place to beard at:


weirdly today I am getting calls about swarms- after not hearing of any for a month. I think some hives are likely absconding. I caught a very nice swarm at sunset yesterday. I also got a call about one colony that has collapsed out of the tree- combs melting.

There’s copious amount of evaporation too. In the heatwave we had my pond lost about 15cm of water, and was topped up a couple of times. My four full sun bird baths are mostly empty by the end of the day.

I am 200% sure that I will be using the towel in a bucket tip on the next heatwave. My only concern is if I’m away for a couple of weeks, most water will evaporate in a day or so apart from my pond which is topped up with a tap timer.

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Thanks for the pics Jack, really convincing the the hive is benefiting from having it so nearby. A good one mate.

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