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Adding my second brood box / checkerboarding


Hello, I installed my first 5 frame nuc a few weeks ago. The bees have drawn out comb on the three blank frames. I understand that when they have all the frames 80 % full of brood, pollen, or honey or combination of that I need to add the next box for the bees to use for more brood and or honey for the bees. My question is, when I add this next box, do I take some of the full frames from the original box and mix in with the blank frames in the new box or just add the new box with the 8 blank frames and let the bees move up and do what they do?


When I added mine I did so. Its called checkerboarding. Having a frame of built comb next to a new frame (either plastic or foundationless) it helps them build the new comb straight. I focused the fully built comb frames on the center and then added the new frames on either side of them. If you have to put two new frame side by side I would put them on the outside edges of the box. Others may have different opinions but that is what I did and it worked just fine. (Don’t forget to maintain your bee space with the frames) This will start your new frames off in the wrong direction and could make things difficult down the road.


You can, but you have to think about how you would feel if you came home and somebody had not just rearranged your furniture, but actually moved all the rooms in the house. That is what you are doing to the bees. :wink:

If you do that, it will often slow them down quite a bit. In fact people do that kind of thing to try to prevent swarming. The bees are so busy rebuilding, that they don’t think about leaving. :blush:

So I try to do a compromise between the two. My bees often build crazy brace comb on the outer frame, until the frame is fully drawn. So when I add a box, I try to make the outer frames mostly drawn comb. That means that I move 2 frames of food into the new box, to sit against the wall. The other frames are undrawn. With the old box, I move 2 drawn frames of food (honey or pollen, one each side) up to the wall, leave the central brood nest undisturbed, and put 2 new frames into the box one frame in from the wall (on either side of the brood nest). If your queen lays in 6 of the 8 frames in a Flow brood box, you may not be able to do that, and in that case, I would put the new frames against the wall and be prepared to rework them for a month or so until the crazy comb is sorted out.


During the height of brood rearing/forage season (now) I go ahead and split the brood nest. I might take 1 frame of brood and 2 mostly food frames and move them up. The bees always hurry to fill the voids.


The part I tended to overlook about this is that those frames should also be covered with bees :sweat_smile::honeybee::honeybee::honeybee::honeybee::honeybee::honeybee::honeybee:


I generally take the two outer frames and put them in the centre of the new box. I don’t like full checkerboarding.



Thanks so much guys and gals good stuff, I really appreciate it.


Well, I just added my second brood box. I did the checker boarding thing as it worked well in the first box. During my inspection one frame was really heavy, there was lighter capping being made, I believe that frame was full of honey. Two frames were all different colors, full of pollen. Other frames were partially full of brood one frame was shiny looking black comb had a real wet look to it, maybe full of Royal jelly??? The black is the color of the foundation, just not sure why so shinny? One frame was just a dirty brownish looking comb, it did have bees on it. The bees were all so mild tempered it was unreal. I looked for the queen but did not see her. I did not see any babies in any comb cells.


CAlso during my inspection, I saw no small hive beetles in the hive on the comb but I must have killed 12 to15 or so crawling on the core flute slider. I would pull it out and there would be 2 or 3 then I would put it back and in a couple of minutes pull it back out and there would be 2 or 3 more. I did this until I didn’t see anymore. I hate those stupid things. I saw no beetle larvae in the hive.


I will be installing beetle traps tomorrow. I hope it is not to late and that my hive is not ruined.


Hey @Chrisb53 I hope so too. I’m glad you didn’t see beetle larvae - maybe it’s nectar in those cells on the black frame…


I think you are exactly right, it’s nectar. The bees have for the last few days been flying into the hive with nearly no pollen but we commented on how fat if that is possible the bees seem to look when they hit the landing board. Fat bees ??


I inspected my hive again this morning in better light and discovered what was in a ton of the shinny comb cells is bee larvae. I looked it up on the Internet and what I was seeing was an exact match. I’m so relieved. Now I’ll just leave them alone to do their thing.


Yay, even better!!! :sweat_smile:


@Dawn_SD what would your opinion be on adding the second box in a queenless hive. All frames are drawn out with several queen cells on different frames. If I add this second box should I just add it with starter strip foundation and not move any frames into it from the bottom box. I think it’s very close for these queen cells to be hatching and they have to choose a queen. I hate to move frames into the new box. I am thinking of just putting the new box on to give them room and they will choose what to do ??


How full is the hive? If it is “bursting with bees” you could add a box. If you intend to have a double deep brood, I would consider adding the new box underneath the existing brood box, as this helps the bees with maintaining temperature.

If you don’t want double deeps (or you already have them), you could add the new box on top, but only if you have plenty of bees in the colony. Remember that if you don’t have a laying queen, the number of bees in the hive is going to relentlessly drop for at least a few weeks or more. If you are just worried about space, another option would be to remove a frame of honey/pollen and replace it with an empty frame. You can freeze the old frame and give it back to them later, when they need the resources.

I would not checkerboard existing frames into the new box. It is too disruptive, especially for a queenless hive.