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Bearding: Cooling off or run out of space - how do I know whether I need to add another super to my Flow Hive complete?


About two weeks ago I changed my SHB trap strategy from the corflute bottom board covered in felt to a more snugly fitting beetle trap tray with oil which means less ventilation going into the hive. Ever since I did this I’ve been catching more beetles but I’ve also noticed my bees are bearding a lot more. During the day when its warm and even at night when its cooler (its still about 24 degrees here in Sydney tonight)

This photo was taken tonight at about 9pm:

Most things I read tells me bearding is about the bees cooling off and that seems the most sensible answer in this case, particularly in light of the change in ventilation but the newbie in me wants to instinctively think they have run out of room inside! So that thought brings me to the actual question - how would I know if they’ve run out of space and I need to add another super?

Some details about my hive:

  • Mid October: I installed the a 5 frame nuc plus 3 empty frames into the brood box (only). When I inspected 2 weeks later the 3 empty frames were full so:

  • End of October: I added the flow super and the bees started filling the flow frames with honey pretty quickly

  • Mid December (last weekend): I harvested 2 flow frames and it looks like another 2-3 might be ready to harvest in the coming weekend.

In the FAQs for Flow Hive it indicates you might be able to get away with one Flow super per hive if you keep tapping the honey to make room, however, reading on this forum it seems that a lot of people are either using or intending on using additional supers.

If I did need to add another super - it wouldn’t be able to be a 2nd Flow super since orders for those don’t ship until next year… but do I need some solution on standby in case they do run out of space or am I being newbie paranoid?

Thanks for your advice.


The usefulness of another super is that you can leave it for the bees when you take the flow off?
I would have thought…but I don’t have any flow frames.
When I have a super that is getting heavy, beginning to get capped and is full of bees I put another super underneath it. Some people put that super above. It doesn’t really matter which. There are advantages to both.



I am writing from a totally different region with shorter summers n cool wet long winters east of Seattle. I getting back into beekeeping myself here. It’s been 55 years since I hefted hives n pulled frames so bit fuzzy on details but most of my serious new beekeeper friends run the double boxes before honey boxes.

I do remember well the top deep super was for honey to winter our girls over well. Here it takes us locally about 10 deep frames or about 80 lbs U.S. If we get a off/on Spring with false starts we were force to do some feeding.

If you inspect your brood box n it’s completely packed with brood wall to wall I
personally would give them some additional room for more brood. Up here our bees use to (remember it’s been awhile for me) move up n put some brood in the second super as the worker n laying queen got real busy. Later as late summer came n egg laying dwindle the queen returned to the lower brood box only n workers fill that upper with the winter overing needed honey.

Remember that’s our northern Pacific NW coast region. Hope my thoughts are helpful. We do struggle to provide adequate winter ventilation up here so condensation does not collect n rain back down on our girls. Many hives can die up here when this happens.

Good luck n happy beekeeping.



Hi @oatkir, this seems normal behaviour for Sydney of late, as it has been rather warm. Its a sign that you have a healthy number of bees and its too warm for them to all be inside the hive at once. I have two hives behaving this way, during the day these bees are out foraging. You could put another super on top of your flow to test them for honey storage but they may just use their energy for wax building instead of honey production.


Thanks for the responses.

OK, so it seems I don’t need to panic or rush out and buy another super just yet, but it sounds like something I might want to consider having around come next Spring / Summer, since by then I will have an established hive going into Spring as opposed to the growing nuc I had this Spring and they might need more space then.


I am pretty much in the same position as you oatkir. I got my nuc in April and Flows in Sept. But I put them in a Langstroth 10 frame, so extra frames. I live in SE QLD and it has been hot. My girls are in full sun but I have a foam mat over the hive. My bees are bearding. And even through the night.

Do you think I maybe a Paranoid NEWBEEK.?
I keep asking myself…
Are they too cramped, too hot?
If they are hot why do they keep filling the air holes in the lid with propolis?
Should I add a super, or split the hive?
Are they going to swarm and if so should I let them and let nature take its course or should I intervene and get another hive going for back up?.
Should I check and disturb hive weekly as my local beeks tell me to or only 3 months as FLow Team advise? I’ve been doing it every 3 weeks.
And when I do a brood inspection… I am always paranoid that I’ve squished or dropped the queen.
MY LATEST ISSUE and QUESTION I ASK MYSELF IS, is that a queen cell, Supersedure cell or emergency cell.? 2 frames in the centre of my brood box have 3 larger downward cells half built (no larva} . Positioned in the middle of the 2 frames???
Do I have NEWBEE paranoia or what lol? I love getting info and advise from experienced Beeks. I must say I seem to get different opinions every time. But I appreciate the advise.


You can’t make any decisions without looking in.
If they have wall to wall brood or brood on 6/7 frames then give them a super.
Three weekly inspections are too long in my opinion.
Do you know the life cycle of the bee?
Egg 3 days
Larva 5/6 days
QC capped at 8 days, emerging at 16
Worker cells capped 8/9 days emerging at 21, drone at 24
It is common for a swarm to depart when the first queen cell is capped so you can see that weekly inspections are the thing to aim for

This is a charged queen cup

Here we have a capped queen cell and a play cup next to it

Colonies build play cups all the time and they come to nothing. If there is white jelly in them then it is time to do something about it…starightaway.
Is your queen still there?
Are there eggs present?
Spercedure cells are said to be in the middle of frames but can actually be anywhere. They are often in twos next to each other.
Emergency cells are many, tend to look smaller than properly planned queen cells, are many and ALL THE SAME AGE…and of course, your queen will be absent as will eggs.
Swarm cells can be many, often hidden along side bars and equally often hanging from the bottom bars. They will be of varying age.


Hi Amelia, being that your not far from me, I’d be thinking about getting another hive ready to do a split, not a 50/50 split, take a nuc out of it to get another hive going. Use the checkerboard method of replacing the brood frames with fresh foundation. Take the nuc a few miles away to prevent too many bees going back to the original hive. If you still have my number, feel free to ph. me any time. cheers


Thanks Dee. I already have a full super on top. My super is the flow frames.

When I looked 3 weeks ago, the cups looked like play cups, but as you say with my 3 weekly checks they could have well and truly turned into fully formed Queen cups, hatched etc. I did notice Do you recommend I pull out one of the frames with these " charged Queen cell or full capped Queen cell" and put it into a nuc with 3 other full brood frames.?

And if they seem like supercedure cells shall I just leave it or split the hive with a frame of supercedures in each?

Definitely not swarm cells.
I’ll try and get photo’s.


I will call you Jeff. May need to arrange your visit.


You need to inspect. They should be looked into weekly.