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Is it time to add a second brood box? Tampa, FL, USA


Hi everyone, I live in Tampa, FL, USA and recently set up my flow hive. I bought a full hive of bees, transferred them into the brood box about three weeks ago. Within a couple of days, the girls had settled in comfortably and were actually working in the super, closing the gaps with wax. Now they are filling the combs with honey and after my first hive inspection everything seems to be going well with capped brood, pollen and nectar on all frames and the queen seems to be busy laying eggs. What I’ve noticed is that at night there are still a good number of bees huddled at the entrance and I’m wondering if this means they are crowded to the point they might swarm. As such I’d like your advice as to whether I should add a brood box and empty frames to the hive.

Thanks in advance.


G’day Sia, what I would do is do a brood inspection & if I think they are running out of room, I’d take a 3-4 frame nuc off the hive. That is frames from the brood containing bees, minus the queen. Then replace those frames with wax foundation frames in a checkerboard fashion.

Assuming that SHB are in your area, I’d take the nuc several k’s away so that no bees return to the parent hive. Let the nuc make a queen, or introduce a new one. That all depends on whether Africanized bees are an issue in your area.

It is spring where you are, so swarming is something you’ll want to avoid.


Hi Jeff,
I’m wondering if you think it might also be acceptable or appropriate to open up the brood nest in some way as an alternative to starting another hive (doing this on perhaps on a couple of occasions during the swarm season)? Would it be ok to remove the honey frames from the brood box and crush the honey out of them for eating (presuming you have no extractor) , and replace them with some drawn (or flat) frames? Could the replacement frames be added into the edges of the brood in the brood box or would they be better in another position? Are you suggesting another hive be set up as that is more reliable way to avoid a swarm, and that “opening up” the brood nest is less likely to reduce the swarming impulse?


Thanks JeffH. I appreciate the quick reply. Fortunately Africanized bees are mot a problem in our area (at least at the moment).



I think you should follow the 80% full mantra. If the brood box is 80% or greater full with nectar/honey, pollen, and brood its time to give them some additional space. I am going to go out on a limb and say that most beekeepers in your area run one brood box. At this point if the above conditions are met you could put a honey super on your hive. It sounds like you have done that and that things are going well. Its normal to see bees out of the hive (bearding) in the evening. I have read that this is another way that they cool the hive or help keep it at the 93 deg F temp for the developing brood. If it does get to the point that there is nowhere for the queen to lay eggs then I would say it would be time to replace some of the honey frames with empty frames for them to build and add space for the queen to lay. The one question I did not see asked was whether you saw any queen cups or swarm cells? This is important and can truly answer some steps you should be taking.


Thanks John_Yeager,

Up to now I haven’t seen queen cells and bearding is relatively small and only around the flow hive entrance which I’ve reduced to an approximate 2 inch (5 cm) opening. Although I have plenty of bees on every frame, not every brood frame is fully capped yet. I do however have plenty of pollen and nectar in all the combs and the my very stealthy queen (she’s not marked and being new at this I have hard time finding her) is very busy laying eggs.

Also in the local bee club apiary, I’ve seen hives with two and three full depth brood boxes under the super.

The bee keeper from whom I purchased my bees usually adds a second full depth brood box and pyramids the frames he takes from the bottom box (full) usually from the middle, to the top (empty). He then checker boards the remaining full frames in the bottom box together with empty frames. He places the full frames in the center of the top box and adds empty frames between the brood box sides and the full frames. He then places the the queen excluder on the top box, places the super, inner cover and outer cover to close the hive.

I’m wondering if anyone in the Flow Community has done this or something similar.




I’m with John completely (about the 80% rule). As your local mentor goes with the double deep I would guess it’s BEST to follow suit. “When in Rome do as the Romans do ! “. Do as the locals! I’ve not been in your part of the States but guessing most of us in Northern Hemisphere. I live up here in Western Washington n run double deeps then the extra Honey Super. Does sound like your off to a great start. I do a every other week inspection to keep my girls checked … They feel cramped … they’ll quickly build swarm queens cells n be ready to beat-feet/fly the coop. I’d rather keep the girls in my hives than share with the world n environment around. Losing up to half the colony isn’t the end of the world :earth_americas: but would cut their ability to produce honey :honey_pot: for winter survival n just maybe a taste or so for you !

Welcome aboard the forum n wishing you luck down there in Florida. Stay in touch n pop a couple beeyard pix’s for us to see n enjoy.

Cheers now,


Sharing my two apiaries !


Hi Dan, during swarm season, I hardly ever find any honey frames in the brood box. To open the brood up to prevent swarming, you need to either place the removed brood frames above the QX or take them away.

I like the KISS method of 1 brood, 1 honey super hives. Therefore in opening up the brood, I need to take brood away in order to postpone the swarm urge.

If you open up the brood & place the brood above the QX, you’ll need to add another honey super to cope with the added population.

Next time you do a brood inspection, you have 2 honey supers to remove. I like to only remove one.

I told someone who engaged me to help them find the queen that I’d rather have 3 by 2 story hives than 2 by 3 story hives, which is what she had. The job of finding the queen was so much harder. She saw the sense in what I said.

To add a second brood or honey super, you still have to provide a full box of frames. All you need to add is a roof & bottom board by making another colony & let’s face it, 2 queens are better than one.


Thanks Jeff, it is rather confusing to me. I take it that you are not saying one way works better than another in relation to the chances of preventing a swarm, but rather it is more to do with convenience and hive set up. I see issues with both methods I suppose. In relation to making a new colony/hive, I see some issues of space and hive numbers. Often there are those sort of confines facing the owner of an urban apiary. If you have three hives and split them all, you’ve then got six of course…which might be a problem space wise. I don’t know if there is an answer really.


Sell the splits to feed your beekeeping addiction? :smile:

You make great points about urban apiaries though, and that is one of the reasons that I hesitate to split. I am only allowed to have 2 hives on my plot, or up to 5 temporarily (30 days max) if I am doing swarm prevention. That means I have to sell them, give them away or merge them back with parent hive once the swarming urge has passed. It can be stressful to have that kind of pressure.


Hi Dan, I didn’t mean to make it sound confusing.

I guess the ultimate aim is to prevent swarming unless you want to go natural & let the bees swarm.

I guess we have 2 choices. One is to make one super sized colony & run the risk of it issuing a huge swarm, if it does decide to swarm or break it into more manageable sized colonies which, I might add are quite saleable.

I find that by using 1:1, each hive still produces on average, 100 kilos of honey per year.

Let’s face it, we are on the flow forum. The flow classic is a one brood, one honey super combination.

Just for the record, keeping a hive on the Sunshine Coast doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get a 100 kilos of honey a year. Last week a flow hiver with 3 flow hives bought a large bucket of honey from me to give to his family members. I jokingly told him that he’ll tell them “it’s flow honey” :slight_smile:


Thanks Jeff,

I guess the saying about “… on a single topic between two beekeepers, you get three opinions…” is really true. I see your point re Flow with a 1:1 set up. I was just hoping to delay telling me wife I needed a second Flow Hive :joy: till next season, but if my girls keep doing well, I will need to accommodate them in a new hive.



You are welcome Sia. There is no need to go to that expense, you can accommodate the bees in traditional gear. A lot of it, you can make yourself. cheers.

PS Sia, the first time I heard that saying was on this forum. I’m thinking that once you gain experience with a particular subject, then there will be a 4th opinion.

You just have to go with whatever works for YOU. Only be guided by others opinions. Just don’t rule anything out before trying it. You never know, it might be the best idea.