Double brood box or 2 hives?

Hi there,

I entered beekeeping just before winter hit using a nuc. Being on the Central Coast of NSW AU the winter was mild and the bees flourished! They filled the 10 frame brood box in 6 weeks and I decided to add a second brood box with the idea of creating a super colony that would produce more honey more often when Spring came around.

Now we’re entering spring, the girls have filled the second brood box so I’ve added the flow super which they’ve taken interest in. I applied bees wax to the frames and they were up there in only a few days which was really encouraging!

My question is - in order to make the most of the spring bloom, should I split the double brood box and create 2 hives or leave the ‘super’ hive (2 brood boxes, 1 super) as is? Which scenario would be more productive?

Thanks for your comments in advance. This is my first post but I’ve been looking at the forum for over a year now. What a great community :blush::honeybee::honey_pot::raised_hands:t4:

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A big welcome to the forum Oli, you will find lots of reading and good advice and tips from the members.
It sounds like your a bit undecided as to which way to go, and I’m a bit confused reading your profile as it is saying you have a single 10 frame hive with a double brood box and with 2 flow frame supers on it. I’m sort of hoping that is a typo as if that is correct I have to say it is not the ‘normal’ way of having a hive with two Flow Supers on it.
I guess your climate is like Gosford and Umina and so my advice is based on that, ok. I know Budgewoi but only as a visitor for a week at a time.
You only need a single brood box, there is a lot of advantages of a single brood box especially for someone starting out in bee keeping so keep it simple.
I also think you would be learning a lot more if you had a second hive, you can compare the performance of one hive against the other and you can also donate a frame of honey or brood to weaken out a hive or to boost the other if you need to. If you happen to have a hive become queen-less and in need of a frame of eggs you will have it at hand to transfer.
Your Winter is not a Winter for a bee, like you don’t get snow, actually your bee would forage any day of the year if it isn’t raining, so you have a year round good climate with plenty of bush land and enough suburbia about to have good foraging.
What I would do in another couple of weeks is to do a vertical split of the two brood frames so that you have a better balance of nurse bee, larvae and capped brood. I wouldn’t even go looking for the queen as it doesn’t matter. In the next 2 weeks you have time to go and buy another base board, another QX and another roof (I would go for a migratory roof, preferably with air vents in it). Another Flow Super and Flow Super frames if you only have one and you have a second hive.
The bees will make a new queen so there is no need to go and buy another.
As for placement I would place the two side by side straddling the hives present position so that neither hive will get all of the flying bees, and of course facing the same direction as the present hive. The hives will not be stressed if they are close together, I have about 20 cms gap between my hives. in groups of 5 or 6.
In your climate a ‘super hive’ has no benefits in any way.
Hope that if of help to you.
Cheers Oli

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Hi Oli, I’m not all that far from you at Buderim. Just a bit south of @Peter48. I didn’t read all of Peter’s reply, so I apologize if I’m repeating.

We shouldn’t think of Spring in terms of “Spring honey”, so to speak. We should be thinking more of swarm prevention, because sure as eggs, the bees will be thinking about swarming. It’s how they reproduce. If left unchecked, your super sized colony will produce a super sized swarm. Then that could be followed by one or more secondary swarms, leaving your hive with a similar sized colony as one of the secondary swarms.

This can be problematic where SHBs are concerned. The greatly reduced worker numbers wont be able to stop the beetles from laying eggs in the unprotected brood frames.

To answer your question: Definitely 2 hives.

Thanks @Peter48 and @JeffH for your replies which are really insightful. To clarify, I have 2 brood boxes and 1 flow super at the moment. See pic.

@Peter48 you answered a few questions that I had without even asking them so thank you. I was concerned about the distance between the hives if I was to get a second hive as the space is limited. I think I’ll have just enough space to sit another hive next to the current setup. You mentioned a vertical split. I’m assuming I take 5 frames from each brood box to make a new 10 frame hive. Is that right?

@JeffH regarding the possible super swarm, I’ve noticed many drones leaving the hive over the last few weeks. Is this a sign they’re preparing to swarm?

Thanks again for the validation and I’m really excited to get another hive!!

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Yes, you have the idea of what I would be doing. Standing behind the hive so as to minimize stress to the bees take the left hand 5 frames from each brood box to one box and combine them, combine the right hand 5 frames together, reverse the 5 frames so that the cluster joins up and the frames of honey are on the outside as you would normally find in an inspection. and you then end up with two colonies that are more equal than just doing a horizontal split. Read it a few times so you are reading the same book as I am, it is a bit fiddly and takes more time but the end result is worth the effort.
Number of Hives : 1 flow hive 2 7 frame in your profile got me thinking you had 2 of 7 frame supers, glad the pic sorted that out for me.
Glad to answer your questions you hadn’t asked :laughing: I was in your position about 50 years ago and had the same concerns and thoughts, luckily I had a great mentor who was a commercial bee keeper and I still remember back then, but hey, I’m not a mind reader but glad to help with advice.
I’m seeing enough room next to the hive for a second hive if there is enough room to get around to the back.
When you do the split expect a lot of flying from both of the hives till they accept that there is two hives there. And no, it won’t bring on a robbing frenzy, just sort term confusion for a day or two max.
@JeffH and I are only 18 klms apart up here and 90% of the way we do bee keeping is the same, a real gentleman and a wealth of good advice. I enjoy when we get together and compare notes.

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Hi Oli, drones in Spring is one of the signs. The mere fact that we’re in Spring weather is the main sign. Every colony will want to swarm when the conditions are right is what I work on. Therefore I treat each colony the same. I’m constantly doing preemptive swarm control splits to make new colonies or I’m strengthening weaker colonies. We only have another week to go before Spring officially starts. However I’ve been splitting the stronger colonies since early July. If I didn’t do that, I would have lost a lot of excellent swarms.

We need to understand bee culture so that we can preempt what they are likely to do going forward. Learning to think like bees, in my view is the key to successful beekeeping.

Because we have SHBs, we need to factor them with every strategy we adopt. Make sure while doing splits that enough bees remain on each brood frame to: #1 Keep it warm during the cold nights & #2 Defend the brood against SHBs getting a chance to lay eggs in it.