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Additional brood box sanity check

Hi bee friends,

I know this has been a hot topic, and I’ve read through the recent threads related to this. But as my daughter and I are first-season beekeepers, I hope you will indulge us in asking about our specific situation.

We installed our package of bees on May 8. We did an inspection of our hive yesterday afternoon, you can see pictures of the individual frames here. It looks to me that the frames are >= 80% built out, with a good amount of brood, though maybe a bit light on honey. The frames certainly seem full of bees. We are worried about a) the bees running out of room, and b) not having sufficient stores for the winter - we live in Stamford, Connecticut, and our winters can be cold and snowy.

Our current thinking, based on the state of the hive, is to add a second brood box with waxed foundation frames, with a queen excluder to force them to use the new box for honey stores for the winter, not brood. And, since we have a dearth coming up, we are thinking of providing sugar water to help them build the new comb.

Does this seem reasonable, based on the state of our hive and climate?

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At this time of year, I would consider adding a medium. I wouldn’t use a queen excluder, as in your region, you should probably have double brood or “brood and a half”. In other words, next year, you probably want more than one brood box as you enter spring. So it doesn’t matter if the queen lays in the new box. For simplicity, I would prefer to add a deep, to keep all frames the same size. However, you are adding a box late in the season, so personally I would add a medium. @Eva has a similar climate to you, so hopefully she will chime in.

Whatever you do, definitely no queen excluder as far as I am concerned. They only go onto the hive when you are intending to harvest honey. You can’t force bees to behave the way you want, and the queen excluder won’t force anything, except laying below it. The bees will still do whatever they want with their stores. :blush:

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I agree with Dawn, in your shoes with the similar climate I am thinking about maximizing the fall flow for winter stores and would add a medium now. QX stays in the shed til spring.

I’ve had a few deep/medium hive configurations and not been too bothered by the mismatch of frames, after all only the one way doesn’t work. A medium frame fits in a deep box and bees will simply build down into the box space below the bottom bar. Bonus: the suspended comb is often drone comb, which is handily pulled off and fed to the chickens when you need to put it in a medium box again :smile:

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