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Brood and a half

I am in melbourne metropolitan area and was wondering if anyone has tried brood (full depth) and a half (ideal).

I have read all the info I could find by Wally Shaw in a brood and a half method and I find it fascinating and will be trying it out. I like trying things that most people don’t do :joy:. Most beekeepers here do either single or double brood. I will be using a 8 frame full depth Lang with 8 frame ideal. The flow super above queen excluder when the timing is right. Will be doing a pre-emptive swarm prevention via a vertical split and split board. Just need to work the timing of this split here in melb. The flow super off for winter. May rotate ideal below fd brood box if needed.


Morning Eric, I have read about this and added the half last weekend, bees have moved into it and started building, they seem to appreciate the extra space with all the warm weather here atm. However if I had an extra brood I would have probably use that given the time left till it starts cooling down. In Melbourne, I am guessing AU, becoming winter now and if needed I would go with just the half.



Hi Christian. Wally Shaw is from your side of the world :smile:

I am starting this spring here in Melb Australia with a nuc then moved to a brood box. Add ideal super as suggested by my mentor as may not have enough nectar flow to fill a flow super for my first year. This way I could possibly have a taste of honey by cutting out a frame of honeycomb. Then in winter remove excluder and convert ideal super to an ideal brood box. Hence why I am looking to continue this into the next season as a brood and a half configuration. I think it has merits on paper. I know I won’t be able to swap frames but have read up on this and have a method to cycle out frames when needed. Doing a vertical split also provides opportunity to cycle out frames. Anyways, time will let me know how workable this is here in Melb. :+1:t2:

odd you should be bringing this up as my brother was just contemplating doing the same here in adelaide (unrelated to any Wally who who I have not heard of yet). His idea was simply to boost the hive potential- and we were thinking to possibly vary the position of the queen excluder to at times (spring mostly) allow the queen into the ideal to expand the brood area- and then to later put the QX below the ideal- let the brood emerge and it fill with honey- then harvest. We are also considering adding some ideals to stronger hives right now in winter as it has been so sunny and the bees very active with [plenty of pollen.

This is what I do. Not the norm here either but it creates a great buffer during dearth’s in my area.
Predominately the ideal is honey with an arc of brood. This mitigates the arc left by the bees in the Flow super too.
Twice as much work during inspections though…

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Google a brood and a half wally shaw. He describes how to manage this method. He has a few articles that I have been reading several times to understand

That’s what everyone is telling me plus if you doing 1.5brood might as well go double brood. Reading all of wally shaw’s writing. I will be rotating the ideal below brood box if needed to maximise brood laying space while encouraging the bees to store their honey in the super in this case flow super above the excluder. Gives a bit more vertical space as well in winter for the colony. I don’t think the extra work is a problem since for me I would have max 2 hives in my backyard.

I hear what you are saying and I too am a fan of Wally’s however we are in a different climate and this changes things. Having 2 full depth boxes keeps your equipment uniform and that is a good thing.
Although I’m giving more space for a larger brood nest I look the 2nd box as a super and will move the qx below the 2nd box during a flow but choose to leave the box and not extract from it. I will however remove outside honey frames from the full depth box in times of plenty.
If I didn’t have such a long summer dearth and had year round forage I would only use 1 brood box.

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Do you freeze the honey frames? Unfortunately i don’t have the freezer space, not allowed to use the kitchen and I don’t have a garage/shed so hence using flow supers as my supers for extraction. If you have a full depth super, how does that affect your flow super? I guess less honey yield?

I agree if i am able to do single brood will be better. May try that when I split for my second hive next year’s season. I guess for learning experience purposes, may end up with brood and a half one hive and single/double brood for second hive for first few years.

I freeze frames occasionally, for the following reasons:

  1. I want to kill off wax moths and SHB at the end of the season and then store the frames. In that case, they are only in the freezer for 48 hours
  2. It is cut comb, and I want to kill off wax moths or SHB before selling it
  3. It is unripe honey, and I don’t want to extract (or spin) it for some reason

I kept bees for may years without freezing comb, frames or honey. If you don’t freeze cut comb, you will get wax moths in it pretty quickly - very disgusting, so when I didn’t have freezer space, I didn’t harvest cut comb. :blush:

I think we need to clarify terms here. To simplify a little, a super is anything above the queen excluder or any box of frames which you intend to use for honey extraction. If it is below the queen excluder, even if it is smaller than a deep box, it is still called a brood box. Of course, if you intend to keep bees without a queen excluder, this doesn’t apply. But then you shouldn’t be using a Flow super, because it gets very messy if the queen starts laying in the plastic frames. :astonished:

I think you are asking whether if you run on brood and a half, or double brood, will it decrease your honey yield. I think the answer generally is that in the first season it will, because the bees will have more space to fill with stores. However, in later years, they will also have more bees in the colony, so the hive may actually be more productive than single deep brood hives.

Hopefully that answers what you were trying to ask. :wink:

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Thank you for your answers @Dawn_SD I don’t have freezer space at all so have a different method.

I understand the definition of Super :grinning: . I was referring to @skeggley comment that he uses 2 full depth boxes, one for brood and one for super (above the excluder) which he doesnt extract and keeps for the bees over winter. So having needed to fill a full depth super before the flow super, how did it impact the yield of his flow super. Whereas my thinking was running a brood and a half and having the flow super only above the excluder.


OK, sorry about that, but many people don’t :smile: :blush:

If you put a deep above the QX during the main season, the queen can’t lay in it, so my statement above remains true. For the first season, it will decrease your honey yield. However, if you keep moving the QX down when the stores run low, that will apply every year. The first year will have the most impact, as the bees will have to draw out all of the comb (which costs honey for them to do) but it is likely to apply in later years too.

Personally I like to keep things simple. I am not the youngest of beekeepers, and lifting heavy boxes to move queen excluders around is not my thing. So I run with double deep brood boxes below the QX all year. That means I only have one size of frame to mess with for brood boxes, which simplifies things more than you might think.

Some winters, we have a eucalyptus (gum tree) nectar flow in winter, and the bees refill the second brood box before spring. Other years (most of the time), we don’t have a winter flow, but the second deep brood box has space for filling with syrup if we are feeding the bees. I never take honey from the second brood box, so that means I don’t have to worry about the super getting contaminated with syrup.

Probably not quite your question, but gives you another idea. :blush:

Thanks @Dawn_SD for your idea. Always gathering knowledge :slightly_smiling_face:

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It would be interesting if you had a second hive set up as a single box brood hive to compare results, just a thought.

Hi peter. yes that is what i have been thinking. It will take a few years since beekeeping is seasonal :grin:
to get up to 2 hives.


Hiya Eric, just to clarify, I only use 1 fd brood box and 1 WSP size (around 2/3 size. This is pretty much all that is available here) I move the qx below the WSP spring and above end of flow. I believe it does affect the honey yield especially during tough years.
I do have single bb colonys however had lost 2 of the colonys during the recent dearth.

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@skeggley if you move the excluder below the WSP, you have one fd box for brood. Thats ok in your area for swarm prevention? What do you do for swarm prevention?

For what it is worth, packing down a brood area can bring on swarming without some other actions taken, especially so in my climate but it applies regardless.
Up here I move frames of brood out of strong hives and donate the frame to a weaker hive to make all my hives about equal, That also cuts down on robbing issues. In an apiary like mine with 30+ hives it is important that the hives are kept in equal strength.
But there has to be a time when the easy option of doing splits is the way to go and with the boom of interest in people wanting to keep bees there is a ready market for selling excess hives.
After I do a split they go straight into a 8 frame box and built up to needing a super with a QX, etc and the whole hive is sold.

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Do you think the peak population is driven by box sizes or by queen laying abilities?

If there is more space on brood frames than the queen can lay in then the limit on population is the queen. But the internal temperature of the hive, foraging conditions and local climate all come into play. So it is all a ‘balancing act’ rather than just ‘cut and dried’. My thinking is that a brood area should have enough room for the queen to lay in plus stores for the need for the brood. Again a balance of not too much space or not enough, remembering that in Winter the bees need to keep the brood area warm.
What works for you perfectly might be a total disaster up here, and vice versa. I had hives in the Hawkesbury west of Sydney and at Mudgee in NSW where all hives were full depth double brood hives because of the cold winters. Both locations had long hot Summers too, well over 40C… Up here the normal is a full depth single brood box.
You need to work within your own climate.
Cheers Eric