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Can someone please tell me why my bees aren't building comb in the second brood box?

Hey guys. Hope all are well. I added a second brood box about two weeks ago… frames with wax foundation… there are sooo many bees in my hive and there is so much pollen and honey… my flow frames are just about full…
But for some reason, my bees won’t start building comb in the second brood box…? They are still making swarm cells and there’s so many bees so I know they need the room… but there just not drawing out any comb… can someone please help me with this…
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The third photo is my second brood box… the first one is all drawn out and also full of bees…

There is your clue. They do not want to grow to fill your box they want to reproduce the colony. Adding more space does not stop the urge once they have that mind set.
You will have to split them. When the new queen is laying, decide which you want to keep then unite them (or keep both and increase your stock, of course)


Aside from swarm cells, honey/pollen in the hive doesn’t confirm that there is currently a large amount of nectar/pollen coming in, so they may not be building because of this (ie. a nectar dearth).

Are the bees still returning with pollen/nectar? has the amount of honey stored remained fairly stable recently or is still increasing?

Where did you add the second brood box? above or below the existing brood box?

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I can see them bringing in lots of pollen… probably the most ever… there are so many cells filled with pollen and the honey amount is increasing…

I put the empty brood box on the bottom, below the other broodbox.

G’day Paul, I agree with @Dee, the bees want to reproduce. The fact of plenty of pollen coming in probably made up the hive’s mind. It would be good if you had some spare frames with drawn comb. I would do a split, removing the frames with the most sealed brood & replace those with drawn comb or fresh foundation in a checkerboard fashion. I would break all the queen cells down & let the split make emergency queen cells. Naturally break all the queen cells down in the mother hive & take a look in 7 days to make sure they are not building more.

If you find the queen, that’ll be good, you’ll be able to make sure she stays in the mother hive.

I unfortunately don’t really have the resources or room to make a split and another hive…
Is there another way…?
What would happen if I checkerboard the new frames and frames with brood in different brood boxes within the hive… will that encourage them to build on it…? And prevent them from swarming…?

I don’t want to go against any advice from @JeffH or @Dee re: swarming, but with regard to the additional brood box, I would say that in my experience, nadiring the new brood box (placing at bottom of hive) isn’t the best option. I would have inserted it above the original brood box, below the QX/Flow super.

I am sure there are also many who would disagree, but it may be worth a try if the current position isn’t working for you.

Nadiring the brood box works well if the flow and weather is intermittent and the bees may or may not use it. If the weather is set fair for a while and forage income is good then bees will draw a comb up top quickly, they will draw the centre frames first and if you go in every couple of days to turn and move frames you can get the whole box drawn evenly…but you don’t have to do that,the bees will get the job done in the end
Another word about swarm preps.
Once the bees have decided that is what they are going to do then breaking queen cells down isn’t going to help. They will draw queen cells on older larvae in desperation and sometimes swarm before they are sealed so theoretically they can go a day or two after you have been in and certainly well before you next look in.
If you keep knocking the cells down they might, just might abandon their attempts particularly if they sense autumn round the corner but they might equally abscond as a colony.
Bees will always swarm…if you have one hive you need a spare empty one

@RBK are you saying that it’s best to always add a box over the current brood opposed to beneath it, if so why? I’ve done what you recommended by adding a WSP above the qx below the flow super as, what I thought, was a wintering super on two colonys and added a WSP below the other two as a brood box ala @Dawn_SD, due to my 20% less than a 10 frame ;). In hindsight I should have added one above and one below to check the progress of each however I would need two of the same queen colonys to get an accurate gauge.

Knocking swarm queen cells down will never work if we maintain the status quo, however it works for me if I do a split & remove most of the older brood, leaving predominately brood that wont hatch for a couple of weeks. We still need to check on them in a weeks time.

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Indeed a split is only half the hive it used to be :wink:
AND if you move your split with ALL the queen cells in it to another place in the apiary the bees will select their own queen and will not swarm. They have no flying bees to guide them away to a new home

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Update: this is what I’ve gone with… i have checkerboarded, as best I could with the frames. The bottom brood box is similar with the two new frames next to each other on the left instead of right. I’m really hoping this works… the outside frames were mostly full of honey, little bit of capped drone cells, but I want them to fill those with honey… hopefully this prevents them from swarming and makes them draw the comb out before it gets too cold…
@Dee the bees were building comb on the inside of be inner cover… so I’m hoping there still building comb for brood :slight_smile:

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Let us know how they get on

I’m not explaining myself properly, when I say split, it’s not a 50/50 split. More like a 20/80 split. What I’m removing is a nuc with the brood frames containing the most hatching & sealed brood. That way the mother hive’s population doesn’t increase for a couple of weeks. This is only my strategy, I’m always trying to think like a hive’s mind. It doesn’t always work, that’s why it’s best to check them in another 7 days.

I take the nuc far enough away so that no bees return to the mother hive.

I generally have more than one hive that needs swarm control at the same time, so I’ll combine the nucs into one box, checkerboarding the frames to stop any fighting. I don’t want any swarm cells in that case, otherwise that new colony might swarm.

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Sounds like a variation on a modified Snelgrove II split… :wink:

Described in some detail on page 17 and following pages here:

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Jeff you explain yourself perfectly :slight_smile:
It works out as a 50/50 split though and is basically what I do. All the brood minus one frame. One frame of brood plus the flying bees…about 50/50 as far as bee numbers is concerned

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It’s what I do :slight_smile:

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The bees are already looking a lot more active than they have been for the last couple of weeks… I think they slowed down because they thought they were full… but now that I have checkerboarded the frames, there is a Lot more room and a hell of a lot more bees being active… not sure if this is because of the 35 degree day today… but they are still going nuts and still bringing in some pollen and it’s 6:45pm here

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Have they stopped making swarm cells?