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Adding super to mother colony after split

As I get to thinking about fall and winter hive management I am trying to also think about the spring and what I need to have on hand once the flow starts in Ohio.

The double deep hive I have now seems to be very healthy with lots of pollen and honey stored. I would estimate around 80lbs if honey if each deep frame is around 6lbs. and assuming it makes it through winter ok…

I was thinking of taking 5 frames to start my horizontal hive and then planning to donate some drawn comb frames (without bees, but maybe some brood if there’s any on there) to some packages that I was going to order.

My question is if I should go down to one box and put the flow super on right after I take those frames out or if I should put empty frames back in, let them draw them and then put the super on? Since the fall honey here has a lot of goldenrod and aster, I was thinking that I would rather they have that for the winter than store the spring honey in their second deep? Or do people put the flow super in the middle sometimes?

Sorry for the convoluted question…

Thanks in advance for any wisdom that you can share!

Hi Alok, I admit I’m a little confused about whether you’re asking what to do for fall and winter, for spring, or for all of the above - So I’ll just go ahead and try to respond to ‘all of he above’ :laughing:

Don’t mess with your nice full double deep colony. They’re all set to head into winter, with maybe some insulation, a mouse guard in another month and provided you have been treating for varroa.

IF this colony make it through winter, be ready to check stores and feed sometime in late Jan or early Feb 2021. Their consumption will depend on weather leading up to and during that time.

You might get lucky and have strong survivors ready to split then super up in early to mid spring - again, depending on conditions. Or, you might need to nurse one along with help from another hive, no way to know now.

If you think you need to super to accommodate a possible fall flow, I’d suggest a shallow but even then, there might not be time for them to draw comb first. A Flow super is Right Out. As in, a No-Go in fall in your region. Keep in mind that brood production is already slowing down at this point in time, and the next batch of bees will be ‘fat bees’ that can survive the winter. Many of the current brood cells will be back filled with nectar (if available) in fall.

Hope that covers it without being too much.


I am on board with what you’re saying for fall and winter - but I was asking about possible spring - splitting then flow supering for spring ‘21 and maybe going down to one box for the spring and give them back the second box for the fall of ‘21.

Bee keepers who alternate over the year with the size of the brood area available do the opposite, they want the maximum number od bees in the hive over Spring and Summer for the increased honey yield then in the fall when the queen is laying less and the colony size shrinks in bee number then they remove one of the brood boxes so there is less room for the bees to have to keep warm. I do Spring splits as a part of hive management to reduce swarming but after doing a split the colony is smaller so if it didn’t need a super before the split it won’t need one straight after having done the split, often not needed for a month or two. Or am I missing something in your question.

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I would assess how strong they are in Spring before considering a split. Not every hive needs splitting. Also, any split is going to need time to build up again before supering. It would be like starting from a nucleus again.

I agree absolutely with @Peter48 on this - that is not a good idea. We should always make sure that the bees have enough stores for themselves before we put a super on. Plus as he says, if you make sure that they have plenty of brood in Spring, you will have a lot more foragers at the peak of the nectar flow. That is good for the bees and good for your prospects of getting honey from the hive for yourself.

I am glad that you are asking the questions though. We can only help you with best management practices if you ask about it. :blush:


I guess I don’t (how would I, really??) have a good feel for which colonies will need splitting for swarm prevention and how fast they build up in the spring…

I figure that if the colony is really strong on a warm early April day (as I am adding the flow super on top of my double deeps) then I could take a few frames without setting them back too much later in the month especially if I see swarm cells, and lots and lots of bees - or if no signs of swarm prep, I could decide to monitor and plan for a possible late spring split when the main flow is coming to an end.

Thanks for your help!


Hi Dawn,
Just about to burst into Spring here. It’s still chilly but the suns out and the bees are busy!
I’ve been contemplating my first split for a long time now and was wondering if you could elaborate on ‘not every hive needs splitting?’ Apart from situations where the hive is weak or a nuc/package, what type of scenarios would a hive not need splitting? Just wanting to be able to recognise such a situation rather than do an unwarranted split.

I was also speaking to a local beekeeper and asked him whether he had single or double brood boxes in this climate as I had been thinking about either single or single plus ideal for brood boxes. He said both (single and double) and that you can tell which your colony will need. I immediately thought to myself - nup, I don’t think I could tell. What should I be looking for?

I’m hoping that the weather will be warm enough this weekend to have my first peak in the hive since Autumn so I can some sense of hive health (looks good from the outside), hive space for splits and brood box requirements.


I don’t split unless I see queen cells, or the hive is so strong that it is becoming obnoxious. Others may do it differently, but I am not looking to expand my apiary, and that method works best for me in this climate. :wink:


To split or not to split - that is the question… Look for comb being built that isn’t in the frames, like in the roof, under the frames and so on, if they contain honey or has larvae in them. If there is larvae then that is a sign that the colony is becoming too big for the size of the hive. Look for over 80% of the brood frames in use for brood and stores. When a hive is running out of space the bees tend to become a bit less friendly.
When you find this you need to consider increasing the brood area, the super or to do a split. It took me a long time, many years, to understand the signs and now try to do my splits before the bees get into swarming mode and making queen cells.
Only consider splitting an overly strong hive, a split on a weak hive only weakens it further.

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Thanks Dawn - that’s great to know. If you’re not looking to expand your apiary, do you make a nuc and offload it to maintain the number of hives?

Thanks for the great advice again Peter. Just to clarify, adding a super doesn’t really increase the brood area so how does it deter a swarm. Is it just that they have more storage room as opposed to brood space?

If a hive becomes honey bound and there is no more space available to store honey then the colony has an issue. They can’t simply stop foraging they don’t know when to take time out. So in that situation the colony can decide it is time to swarm and begin a new colony. Hope that explains it better.

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Yep, that’s great, thanks again :ok_hand:

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It is all about balancing out what space the hive has, giving them room to expand and increase the stores but not that much room that they don’t need but have to warm. Bees will often let you know if they aren’t happy and it is up to you to wonder why.
Always happy to give good advice. IT has been a super mild Winter up here and Spring has certainly arrived.

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Exactly right. the alternative is to keep it for a few months and merge it back with the weakest of my hives. However, my City regulates how many hives I can have, so I am careful not to keep extras around for longer than the regulations allow…