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Additional brood box questions, Australia, Benalla, North East Victoria


#1

Hi all,
I have decided to add a second brood box (BB) to my flow hive setup. My hive has is approx a year old, they survived the first winter (Phew) and I am nearly ready to harvest for the first time.
I have a few questions about adding a secondary BB.

  1. What time of year/honey harvest would be best to add the box, and will it effect the current super honey production much?
  2. I’m 90% sure I know this, but I was planning to add the box in between the current BB and the flow super. Obviously with queen excluder underneath the super. Is this correct?
  3. I currently have the new BB (yet to be assembled) and 4 frames with full wax foundation. The other 4 frames I have (left over from when I put the nuc in) I will put 1/4 depth wax foundation.
    Do I put the full wax foundation frames in the centre and two 1/4 depth’s either side or do I stagger?

As always, any advice would be much appreciated, and any thoughts whether related to my questions or just my general setup are always welcomed.

Thank you.
Sammy


#2

Hi Sammy,
Why do you want to add a second brood box? Do beekeepers in your area generally have 2 brood boxes?
If you only have one hive, it would be better to do a split now, even if it’s not a flow set up.

  1. Spring/summer is a good time to do as you plan, or do a split. It will set back Honey production for a bit, but as bee numbers increase, so will the Honey production, as long as there’s nectar to be gathered.
  2. Yes, that’s how I would do it.
  3. Yes, your best chance to get nice straight comb would be to alternate the frames. I use all foundationless, but it would make sense that way.

I recently added a second brood box to one of my hives, with the idea to prevent swarming and to take 2 splits 10 weeks later. It really slowed flow Honey production for about 3 weeks, but now they really bring the nectar in. They also created a few capped Honey frames down in the BBs.
I noticed when I take 2 brood frames from my other 1 BB hives, they still bring in lots of nectar, no slowing down. Well, we sure have a flow on currently.

Just sharing my experience. I’m only a year into beekeeping, just as you, and I love my bees. So my advice is just based on my observations. A lot depends on your locality.
One thing I know any experienced beekeeper would advise is, have at least 2 hives.
Hopefully you will get a lot of experienced advice soon. I have learned a lot through this forum.
There are even ways to do a split if you never find the queen!


#3

Spring is the optimal time, if you are going to do it. It probably will affect the honey production, but that would be affected a lot more if your bees swarm, which they will certainly do if they feel short of space.

It is the easiest and most standard way of adding a box, but I actually prefer to add new brood boxes to bottom layer of hive. The reason is that this has least disturbance to the thermal regulation of the hive, and I have actually found that with my bees (similar climate to yours), the queen starts laying sooner in the new box if it is lower. In nature, bees tend to build downwards, so adding a box underneath is also working with their inherent nature.

I agree with @Webclan, you are less likely to get crazy comb if you alternate empty frames with foundation. Except at the hive wall, where mine always like to build bridges and islands of comb. You just have to correct that as soon as you see it.

I also agree with the question as to why you are adding a second brood box, if you intend to split anyway later this year.

My region runs on double deep or triple medium brood boxes year-round, but that is because we have incredibly long nectar dearths (not much rain). If your locals run on a double brood box, I wouldn’t split later, just let them fill the double brood.

If they run on single brood, I would split now and set up a second hive right now. Having said all that, I would only split if they are bursting at the seams and seem short of space.