Can I put a secondbrood box on after I have already put my flow frames on? If so, what size brood box is best? Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Hi guys.
I’m starting to get honey in my flow frames and getting excited… but I want to make sure my bees are going to last over winter and stay a strong colony.
Can I put a second brood box on now? As it is getting pretty crowded in the hive. Or is it too late in the season…? Or will that be bad for the hive?
I’m worried that if I put a full deep brood box in… then the bees might not need or fill the flow frames as much, as there might be enough honey in the 2 brood boxes.
Should I, or can I put an ideal or medium or WPS sized brood box under or over the already established brood box, to give them enough room to grow and hopefully not swarm? Or is swarming season over this year in Melbourne Australia so I can wait till spring to put on another box then…?
My bees are also hanging out at the front of the hive at night… is this because the hive is too full…?

Lots of different questions, so hopefully this topic can help me and others, so any help is greatly appreciated :blush:
Thank you all again.
Paul :grin:

How many “brood boxes” you need to use is climate dependent. Ask around and find out what is typical in your area and start with that and then experiment if you’re not happy. If you have too many and your climate is too warm, they may not put much in the supers. If you have too few and your climate is too cold, they may not make it through the winter and the queen may not have enough room to lay in the spring. Here in the US it typically is two ten frame deeps in the north, a deep and a shallow or a medium in the middle and one ten frame deep in the south. I’m in the north. I run all eight frame mediums so I typically have four going into winter. But it varies by the size of the cluster.

I think typically for Melbourne beekeepers, two brood chambers are the norm, its up to you to decide on what size box to use but remember that if you use a different size box then you won’t be able to move frames around. I am located in Sydney and consider a crowded hive at this time of the year to be ideal. Also, bees on the outside of your hive is not always an indication of a crowded hive but will be temperature dependent.
The photo below is a photo of one of my hives this week (37C day), the hive on the left has a ventilated bottom board and is not bearding at all. The hive on the right is my biggest honey producer at the moment, you can see why.

As the weather cools, these bees will all disappear into the hive and up into the honey supers, so for me a second brood box is not required. As Michael has suggested, have a chat with the beekeepers in your climate zone as they will know whats best.

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Is it too late in the season now to add another brood box…? And can it do any damage by adding a second brood box, just incase they can’t fill it before winter…?

I think you should be relatively safe doing it now, providing you are expecting more nectar flow before the end of the season.

Well, if they don’t use it or fill it, they have to heat a big empty house over winter. But there is nothing to say that you can’t remove it if it isn’t used. If they have filled some frames, and you have freezer space, you can always store them frozen and give them back as food over winter, or next spring to give them a boost.

Hi there - can I come in on this conversation? I too am having a bit of trouble understanding what to do at this very key time. I’m based in The Blue Mountains of Australia (mountain range west of Sydney). It’s similar summer temps (quite hot this weekend with mid 30’s Celsius) but cooler in winter with getting to 0 on many days but it almost would never snow. Perhaps a bit like Melbourne?

I have one brood box and one flow frame. Brood box is almost full , plus with honey capped on end frames.
Flow super is getting full - with full frames in middle and all frames getting fuller each day. LOTS of bees.
Lots of bearding on the hot days.

Questions swirling around my head every day leading into this weekend.

  1. Should i harvest a least one full capped frame in flow frame to give them more room for honey. (This would be my first harvest too so a bit excited if I do). - I probably will do that.
  2. Should I add a brood OR a super AND where? to give the bees more room? (summer will end here in 3 weeks). I have a ready to go empty langstroth hive sitting by (same size boxes) so could use one of them as a brood/super?)
  3. Should I put a shade cloth over the bees this weekend which is due to hit a really hot high of 40 degrees.Here are a few photos… from recent days. Thanks you so much for your help and time and patience with us first time beekepers. I am loving my year so far and dedicated to getting this right. Intending to add to my hive at some stage.

Hi Katie, I would be inclined to physically check the frames before harvesting the honey. Looking through the end view can be quite deceiving. You’ll see how full & capped the frames are, as well as you’ll see if if there is any brood in the frames or not.

I live on the Sunshine Coast, personally I’d recommend taking a nuc off a strong colony right now if I thought it was getting too strong. I can’t speak for your area.


G’day Katie, I had a similar situation as you late last year. Over winter my brood box filled to over flowing with brood. The Flow frames in the honey super had heaps of capped honey but then they swarmed on me twice even though I had placed a second brood box on top of the original one. Not to worry they raised a new queen and the numbers quickly built up again.Just after Christmas I tapped flow frames 3,4, and 5 getting just over 6 kg of honey. Within 4 weeks they had refilled these frames and capped them. I took 10 kg this time and they are back at it again. I have to decide now whether to add another brood box or take some brood out to make a nuc. Looking at that photo of your frames I would have no hesitation of tapping frames 2, 3, and 4. Regards Neil

Thanks JeffH - And please excuse my ignorance - do you mean

Taking a nuc by:
Taking 5 frames of mixed brood and honey from brood box and a few bees (leaving 3 in the original) and putting the 5 frames in a new hive ( like splitting?) Do i buy a queen or do they raise a new queen? Then putting in empty frames in the brood box.? Just not sure I am experience enough? what do you think? Am I?

Thanks I appreciate your response. Makes me feel a bit reassured. My first proper Summer and I just want to do everything measured and thought through.


Hi Katie, it all depends on how strong your colony is. From an 8 frame brood box I’d take 3-4 frames of brood & bees minus the queen. It’s great if you do find the queen. Put them in another box & replace those frames with frames with fresh foundation. In this weather you’d checkerboard them. Select the best looking frames of brood to leave in the parent hive.

Because of SHB issues, I’d take the nuc several k’s away to prevent too many bees returning to the parent hive. If that happens, the brood will be less protected & vulnerable to shb laying eggs in it. You’ll be safe after about 3 weeks to bring the nuc home during one night.