Can you add just a few frame in the 7 frame flow super

I’m a new bee keeper thats starting this year, my plan is to have the bee fill 2 brood boxes first because im in NY, and the bee keeper around me says 2 brood box is recommended for NY since we have long winters, i was planning to feed them sugar syrup until like June/July so they have plenty of food to build the 2 brood boxes. do that and then see if we have the time this year to put the super on, i was wondering if i can put the super on but just have a few frame in the flow super, and have them fill only the few frame that i can harvest this year. because i dont think there will be enough time for them to fill the whole 7 frame super this year, so putting a few frame in the super is possible then at least i will be able to harvest a bit of honey this first year, or should i just wait for next year?

Hi Mike, you can put just a few frames in the honey super, which is what I frequently do when I’m short of frames, or there isn’t enough bees to occupy a full super of frames. It does entail monitoring the super every week to make sure that the colony doesn’t start building comb in the space we leave. When that starts to happen, it’s time to add more frames.

Whatever you do dont do that. When you have some experience under your belt you can get away with it but when starting its best not to. If you put a box on a hive it must have all its frames or they will start building crazy crosscomb and you will end up with a mess unless you regularly monitor it. In your first year concentrate on getting the hive really established, you can always steal a frame if honey for yourself if you want. On that note consider putting a few drops of food colouring in your syrup so you can tell it from nectar. That way you can gauge when to stop feeding them and tell honey from sugar honey.



if it’s a flow super then the frames form the ‘seal’, or rear window. You would need a bit of engineering to account for that too, even of you were to go down the route of using fewer frames.

Hi Mike, it’s good you want to get to two brood boxes, but this can be tricky to achieve in the first year of a new colony. Feeding doesn’t directly correlate to comb building as much as we wish it would. Right now in PA the nectar flow is full on, so the timing is maybe a week or so later in NY, and feeding while there’s a flow could induce swarming. It’s not the end of the world if you end up with less than two full BBs though - your mentor can advise too but it’s typical to have to condense in fall to eliminate empty space for winter.

About your supering idea, I agree with Rob, and I think what’s more an issue is that it’s very unlikely for the bees to fully build out two boxes AND store enough honey for you to harvest. Remember also that before the bees can begin putting any nectar in your Flow frames, they have to wax up all the cells which takes even more time and nectar.

Pest management is the other wild card. Make sure you have a proactive plan for varroa especially, and small hive beetles. Learn the signs of other pests and diseases like wax moths, chalkbrood and AFB so you’re ready to act.

Just enjoy caring for and learning about your bees for now, this is what will pay off in the end :blush::honeybee:


Hi John, I was assuming that the rear wood panel would be enough of a seal. The super would need to be inspected through the side windows or by lifting the roof.& crown board.

well that panel is loose, so it would most likely be propalised up, in my opinion. The flow frames form a tight fit so whatever replaced them would need to be tight too. The removable panel is just to view things in the frames and the side panels have the same function. they, at least, have a solid piece of persex behind them and that is air tight. The ‘air tightness’ at the back is achieved only by the plastic frames fitting tightly together to form a see-through wall. That can be achieved using the hybrid flow supers (but, as I previously stated, this requires a but of engineering).

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I agree about the propolis, which wouldn’t make removing the panel difficult once the time comes to remove it. Alternatively, one could screw a thin sheet of perspex over the join, which can easily be removed once the time comes to fill the super with frames.

This is the first time I hear people doing that, but I like the idea. Is there a specific color you use

Any food grade colouring. I used to change the colour when my boys were small so they could see how the bees move it around the hive.

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