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Clarification on "fully drawn" and "80% full"


Hi everyone,

Yesterday was an inspection at around 1month-post-package-installation. I hadn’t been able to get into the hive for around 2 weeks, between a vacation, weather, and work schedules. I was pleasantly surprised to see that both hives had built quite a lot of comb and that all of that comb had a combination of capped brood, pollen, and honey stores (I’m still a little fuzzy on looking for eggs…next time!)

I’ve read in many places that the time to add a second brood box is when all the frames are covered in bees, the frames are fully drawn, and 80% full of brood and stores.

In yesterday’s inspection, I observed that in the South Hive every frame (foundationless) was built on, but only one or two had been built out to the point where the comb had reached the bottom or sides of the frame. A couple of frames had lots of comb, but hadn’t seen much “filling” activity yet. Do I wait until every last frame is 100% built to touch the sides before I add a second box? And all frames are mostly filled? Or should I add it this weekend, when I know I will have the time and the weather will be most likely to cooperate? We are expecting rainy, cooler (50 deg. F), and my next opportunity to open the hives safely won’t be until Thursday.

In the other hive (North Hive), the frames looked substantially similar to the South hive, but with fewer bees covering the frames, and one frame where the bees had only just started building comb. Of course, this is also the hive in which the bees have built a considerable amount of burr comb between an end frame and the wall of the box. I’m getting up my nerve to go in there today to remove the burr. Once that’s done, I feel more confident leaving the North Hive alone and checking it again on Thursday.

Any help or advice you have to offer is, as always, greatly appreciated!



Mbeeee, I’d personally leave south hive alone since you know it is okay n still room n stuff to do before adding additional box on top yet. I’m guessing your pollen n nectar flow are weak at present.

I’d get my effort to the hive with the crazy burr comb this weekend. That should be best use of your time to me. I am guessing someone else will pop in here with some great thots n advice too.

Hmmm, a couple pix’s might be helpful for us to advise you too. BTW where are you generally localed … That info is helpful too.

Enjoy your weekend.


Thanks, Gerald.

We are in Boulder, Colorado at around 5400 ft elevation. Springtime here can be random - 65-80 degree days (last week) followed by a week of 40-50 degree, rainy days. Heck, it’s been known to snow in late May! When it is warm and the girls are flying, they really fly, and it seems like a good percentage of them come back to the hive packed with pollen. The dandelions have hit their stride, crabapple trees are just past peak, flowering bushes are prevalent.

I’ll do my best to work on the north hive this weekend, but the weather doesn’t look good. It was supposed to get to 65 today, with rain in the afternoon, but when I went outside after my last post, it was already misting and ony 41 degrees! My gut tells me that it is better to let them build a bit more burr comb, even over the next 5 rainy days, than to expose them to the elements. Agree?

I will send pics next time if I can. I did my last inspection solo - I’m not good enough to work through the hive quickly AND take photos. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the response!




That does sound like hand to hand combat with the Wx up there. A lot of my relatives live in and around Denver. My mom grew up south of Wallenberg n spent summers in Victor with an aunt. Been there in the Mtns of Colorado as a kid. Great one minute n mittens the next.

I went with foundation wax n plastic as I personally didn’t want to fight with too much creative comb building but we all choose different paths in beekeeping n the results are what counts not the trail getting there It’s often a learn as you GO hobby. As a kid I wished I’d had the info n support we have now. Sure makes beekeeping easier.

I’d get to the bur comb ASAP (Wx permitting) so the limited time n resources of your bees go in the right direction.

Good hearing from you a mile high n then some. Enjoy the weekend. Ours has turned gray n showery after several very wonderful days of sunny n mild (near 80’s). Now we’re back to norms of gray n 60’s for a high maybe.

me teaching E.S.L. in my spare time in a Vietnamese language school. playing with my :honeybee:’s n build hives in my spare extra time. :blush:

Take care !



Don’t sweat the small stuff. :wink: The sides and bottoms are the slow to complete on foundationless frames, and the bottom corners often never fill. The idea is to add another box when the bees will soon run out of space, but meanwhile have enough “bee-power” (like manpower) to defend the new space. The 80% concept is only to give you an idea of how much they need to fill before they are getting close to running out of space. If it is all drawn, but only 50% full, you don’t need to add another box yet. If only 5 frames are drawn, but they are all full, you don’t need to add another box. If every frame doesn’t have a decent covering of bees, you should think carefully before adding a box, because they don’t have enough workers to draw new comb and defend it.

You can do more harm by adding a box too early, than by waiting an extra week. So if in doubt, do nothing.


Some good info there Dawn. I have about 3 frames of stores, 4 ish of Brood and one completely empty frame of foundation.

I am thinking to wait till they have at least got half way through drawing out the Foundation frame before adding my Flow Frames. I would also like to wait a bit for temps to rise so having all that extra space to keep warm won’t affect them.


Thanks, Dawn.

Miracles happened today - the rain stopped, sun came out, and temps got to be 55 or so. So I went into the North Hive and removed 2 big chunks of burr that the bees were building between the end frame and the box wall. about 16 square inches worth. It’s frustrating - I have all 8 frames in the 8 frame brood box, all pushed together as much as I can, with roughly equal spacing on both ends.

I opened up the South Hive and they had started to do the same thing there! (Pictures attached, hopefully!) It’s not like they don’t have room to build on frames, either.

There wasn’t much opportunity to do anything about the south hive - the sun went back behind the clouds, and the weather is threatening.

In either case, I do like your advice of “in doubt, do nothing”. Mother nature will help me take that advice over the next few days. :wink:

Be well,


This image shows some burr between the wall (far left) and the frame, but also between the first and second frame.

Bees won’t be happy between now and Wednesday…