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How much equipment/boxes do I need to run a hive? Adelaide, South Australia


I’ve set up several apiaries recently using normal frames. I’ve been buying hives that consist of two boxes one for brood and one super (for the time being I will be only running single brood hives). However I’m guessing I will need more supers so that I can rotate out combs to be harvested, and give the bees enough room when they need it. My apiaries are remote to me so the plan is to remove honey and replace with empty combs. So roughly- to run one hive how many boxes might I need to have on hand and in rotation?


It depends… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

How often can you harvest? I always keep at least double what I think is minimum, and that gets tight sometimes. In the UK, we used to keep 3 supers per hive, but once or twice, we needed 5 supers. Yes, we probably could have managed with 2 or 3, but when they don’t cap everything, and you don’t want to take the hive apart every 3 or 4 days, it helps to have up to 5 spares. :smile:

Gonna need a bigger bee shed!!! :blush:


Yes that’s my problem: storage! I’m a collector (as opposed to hoarder) and already have issues with housing the precious ‘things’.

As to harvesting I’m hoping to get away with monthly or even longer much of the time. At the height of season I might visit fortnightly. I’m kind of lucky as don’t have beetle or veroa to worry about (touching wood).

Yesterday at the B society we had a talk from commercial migratory beekeeping couple - they showed us a slideshow where they put the bees onto Orange Blossom and would have as many as three boxes filled in five days!

They’ve been chasing the flows for decades now, going from pollination to honey flow- to canola for build up- and have all the secret locations. My hives are all sedentary- so I’m doubting I’ll ever get as much honey… one of my apiaries is immediately adjacent two large national parks- and I’m hoping I might get some big flows there on occasion.


More more more!!!

If you’re only visiting monthly you should use two brood boxes. I’ve been trying single broods this season on a few hives, but boy are they strong and need splitting regularly for swarm control.

:wink: good luck.


I always run double brood or you are always on swarm patrol. As for the supers, most of my hives run two supers but I keep a fairly close eye on them, two supers lets me cycle the ripe frames out and replace with empties.

After saying that though, and as you don’t have beetles I would be tempted to run triple supers in warm weather if you are only going to visit monthly. This will depend on a flow and a strong hive also. Its really a case of observation and dealing with things as they come up in your area so no real definite answer…



My apiaries are somewhat remote so swarming won’t be big issue if it happens. The plan would be yearly splits. Quite a few people here seem to get away with single broods- I might end up with a few of each to work out what works best for me.

I suppose I’m going to need to maintain a certain level of ‘stickies’ ready to swapped out for full frames. Eeks- everything keeps snowballing



What Hemisphere n region in that hemisphere? Too many variables to tell you for sure without your approximate location.

I live in Puget Sound area SE of Seattle. Since we do need good stores to over winter our bees a couple double deeps or triple mediums do well here. Then I top with either the Flow-Supers or two shallow supers for extra (my) honey. !

Here’s a couple of my hives. A Flow n Conventional …


. Everyone has to determine their own equipment needs. I run heavy not wanting to be caught short. Also I’m 72 yrs old now n slowly drifting to 8 frame deeps with 8 frame shallows for honey supers.



Trouble with swarming is you lose a LOT of your bees and honey. Hives that swarm will produce much less honey in the season.



Yep - I know- and I will try and stop it from happening- it’s just it won’t cause angst with the neighbors if it does like my urban hives might.

@Gerald_Nickel I’m in Adelaide, South Australia. We have a Mediterranean type climate and can get away with a single brood box. Winters are mild and relatively dry also- frost is rare.

I’m also using 8 frame hives mostly and shallows to make comb honey


A friend is hosting a hive for an older almost retired beekeeper. Because he visits the hive in frequently he is running a single brood with two honey supers. According to my friend they have not had swarming issues and the production is good. May be something to think about.



I start off with one super and add another as it becomes full of bees. I have had six on one but four is more usual. I take them all off together.


Hi Jack, there’s a lot to be said for keeping your hives close to home. About 8 minutes is all I drive to my furthest bees. I don’t need any extra frames, only extra empty boxes. I remove the frames from the hive, extract the honey, then return the stickies.


Its funny isn’t it, so many methods. I only run single 10 frame hives and most are very close to home. The past year has been a bit patchy so I have reduced all the hives down to 1 super. I found that with 2 supers I ended up 18 partially capped frames. Now with the single super, they are capping and I can extract every month which feeds the local market perfectly. The home hives get the stickies back the same day and out hives get fresh foundation, seems to be working so far. I get the odd swarm, they are re-combined back with a weaker hive 1-2 months later.


I understand what you are saying about staying close- however you are in Buderim- surely there is a lot of wilderness very close to you? Where I am if I drive 10 minutes it’s all suburbia. I have to drive at least 25 minutes to be out of the city. I would be concerned keeping more than 2 hives in any one suburban backyard (though I have 4 in my own). My new hills apiaries will allow me to keep up to 10 hives at each location if I wanted- maybe even more. Also I am positioning them at 3 locations that I could visit all in one day in a big 200KM loop :wink: And finally for me- the whole thing is a great excuse to get up and into the hills, which I love.

Well judging by all the answers I am going to need more boxes and frames as this season progresses. This week i will be supering all my hills hives. Then I’ll start getting more boxes ready.


That sounds fair & reasonable Jack. When I think about it, other semi & commercial apiarists around my way travel to the forests (Jimna, for example) about 90 minutes away to get good honey.

I never wanted to travel to chase honey on account of the fishing. After coming home from sea after a 5 day trip, the last thing I needed was long driving trips to chase honey.


I’m assuming you take them off at the end of season in late autumn? How do you squeeze all the bees back down into the brood box/s? Do you wait until the bee numbers have declined already? I’ve been wondering about how that all plays out.

I’m not sure we see the same decline in B numbers as in colder climates last winter my bees made drones all the way through…


By the time the supers are full and capped there are few bees in them. I sometimes leave a super of uncapped frames under the brood and that is plenty of room for the autumn bees.


This is exactly what I have seen too. The number of supers doesn’t determine how many bees are in the hive, the number of brood boxes (and food availability for the brood) does that. :blush:


Also a reason to keep harvesting. Boxes with few bees becomea magnet for SHB and slime outs.



True in the US and Australia. When we were doing this (5 supers) in the UK, there was no varroa and no SHB. Amazing times. :blush:

Now we have to be a lot more active and vigilant in our management.