Brood box decisions


New beekeeper here. So I installed my Nuc on June 6th. I’m in Calgary, AB, Canada. I have added 3 drawn comb frames, 5 frames from the Nuc and the outside frames are foundation frames. They took amazingly to the original foundation frame and recently to the drawn comb frames. I also added a top feeder and pollen patty which they have been devouring both for a couple weeks now.

Just wondering when I should add the super, or a second brood box to get the colony strong because we have such cold winters. Any suggestions? Quite a few local beekeepers have said they go with 2 brood boxes which isn’t a problem, just not sure of the timing as to when I should do so.

So far so good tho as the girls seem happy and are super super gentle calm bees.


I have no experience with your climate… But… Based on what I’ve read on this forum for (extreme) cold weather, I’d suggest you build up colony strength to two brood boxes and expect no honey harvest this year. You’d add the second brood box with similar logic to when you add Supers - when it is about 80pc full.

I’d also suggest you give thought to wrapping/insulating your hive to help it through winter. And also learn how to do a sugar roll test as you’ll need to prepare your colony for your winter.

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Yes thank you. All great advice. We’re sure we will be going with 2 brood boxes of everything goes according to plan. For the second brood box, are there any suggestions as to what I should be putting in to the second box. (ie, checker boarding, foundation frames, drawn comb… etc?) as I’ve heard people say they have pulled frames from the lower box To encourage the bees and put a couple of brood frames up top and replaced the bottom ones. I have also heard just to put new or drawn frames instead of rearranging their current home.

As for winter, we will be attempting a sugar roll test and treating most likely with Oxalic Acid vapours as well as insulating the hive.

Thanks again for the advice.

Kris & Jen

Welcome, Kris and Jen! Your hive looks so charming among the lupines and achillea (jealous :hugs:) and it sounds like you’re off to a great start!

If your nights are not far below 60F it might be okay to pull something like two broods and one honey frame from the bottom box to get things going in the second box. What you have to gauge is whether the existing population can spread out to adequately feed, keep brood warm, and protect from invading pests in the increased space. Assuming your nights are fairly cool, keep the frames together in the middle of the second box, and in the bottom where you took them out, move other brood frames to the middle so your brood nest is now elongated but contiguous rather than widely dispersed. You can put empty frames in towards the sides, alternating with drawn comb to encourage even building.

Just curious, how hot are your days now, and will they rise any further during summer? I’m asking because of your dark roof color, and the potential for excessive heat buildup. I’ve painted my Flow roofs a light color, and use painted brood boxes too. Only the super and vertical parts of the roofs are wood tone, which has greatly improved my colonies’ ability to deal with the hot summer days here in PA USA.


Have you added vents to your gabled roof as many others seem to have done?

I have a couple of non-Flow gabled roofs which came with vents as standard and, having some experience with human covering roofs, attic spaces without ventilation turn into ovens very fast; my bosses credit cards were deformed because he climbed into a roof in the middle of summer while they were in his pocket lol.

Instead of venting the gables I use a feeding shim with an entrance hole on top of the super/under the roof lid. When I put the supers on a few weeks ago, I put wax plugs in these holes so bees could determine whether or how large to open them. One cleared all the wax from the hole, and the other has it at 80% open.


This is the type of shim I have

I never came across this Eva, thanks for sharing, very interesting. How do the bees know there is fresh air behind the wax plug?

I painted my lids white, placed insulation, drilled vent holes so the void won’t over heat, but keep the inner cover closed. Seems to work well in West Australian heatwaves but I’m always open to ideas.

I’ve been starting to wonder about the heat for sure. I’ve noticed the bees on the landing board at night. Temperature is around d 16°C (61 °F) at night. Our days are getting to be around 20-25°C (71-75°F).

One issue I’ve been dealing with is condensation from the top feeder. It’s created mould on the inner cover already. We have had a lot of rain lately as well which has its own set of challenges.

The dark roof shouldn’t be that much of an issue as I have seen many hives painted this colour in way warmer climates. If nothing else, it may be beneficial in our freezing cold winter. Such great information on here. I really appreciate it.

Thanks for the replies!! :slight_smile:

Please make sure that the following are all true before you add another box or Super:

  1. Every frame has fully drawn comb on most of the frame, and
  2. Every frame is 80% full of food or brood, and
  3. Every frame is completely covered with bees

I wouldn’t do this. You are messing up the hive and creating a lot of work for the bees. I know @Eva recommended it, but I prefer to let the bees move in at their own speed, unless they are really overcrowded. :blush: My top preference is to use drawn comb, but I doubt that you have this, so in that case I would use frames with wired wax foundation.



Thank you for the helpful tips. I think today I will be doing an inspection to see where we’re at with the single brood box. I’m excited to see how they’ve taken to the drawn comb I’ve provided.

I’ll be prepared to go with the second box with foundation frames just in case they’re ready for that expansion.

Like they say, “ask 2 beekeepers and you’ll get 3 answers” lol. Hopefully we do things right. Our bees are so calm and gentle, I’d hate to get them out of sorts. Supposed to be 25°C today so I’m sure they’ll be busy.


Hahahaha that’s a great question! I assume they figure it out in their usual meticulous investigation of new spaces. Perhaps there’s a difference in sound vibrations coming through wax vs wood. Or I left a tiny opening that was too small to see but air was able to get through :face_with_monocle:

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@KanadianParadise Dawn’s advice is always sterling, mine is less experienced by far and I’m still testing out ideas. Double brood boxes take a very long time to fill without drawn comb and with limited nectar flow I’ve found myself with an incomplete second box come fall, which is where my head is when I think about the timing and how to handle your situation. However, Dawn is pointing out the downsides of disrupting the brood nest and potentially spreading it out too thin, which are extremely important to take into consideration.


@Eva is an excellent beekeeper. I would certainly take her ideas into account, because she has a very balanced and thoughtful approach. My thoughts are just my experience. Yours may differ. Most beekeepers differ on one thing or another, but we can still be friends! :blush: