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New hive - feeding, frame filling, first inspection, removing reducer?


Hi and thanks for checking out my questions. New beekeeper here, just loaded my first hive from a nucleus on Wednesday, May 23rd. Location is NW Connecticut, USA. I have four questions:

  1. I installed my nuc and added a top feeder with 2 gallons of 1:1 sugar water to help them get started. They are very busy, lots of traffic at the entrance, and all seems well. Should I continue feeding once this supply is finished?

  2. I had a 5-frame nucleus, and all frames were busy except the outermost surfaces of the outer frames. I am using an 8-frame brood box, so they got 3 new frames with wax foundations. Any rough idea of when I should expect to add a second brood box?

  3. When should I do my first inspection?

  4. When should I remove my entrance reducer?

Thanks in advance for any help.

  1. If the bees have enough in flower to forage on and bringing in nectar and pollen then you have no reason to continue artificial feeding. Standing near the hive entrance you will see the pollen sacks of the bees bring in pollen, the bees not bringing in pollen are foraging for nectar.
  2. Add a second brood box when the bottom box is cramped for room for the queen to lay and it has about 80% of the cells in use for stores and brood.
  3. I do hive inspections weekly, that way I will quickly see any adverse changes to the hive and know in advance when and what maintenance is need.
  4. Remove a reducer when there is a traffic jam at the entrance, the bees will adjust the hive temperature themselves.


Peter has already answered nicely, but I have a few details to add.

You need to inspect to make that decision. If the 3 new frames are mostly drawn out, and honey (or syrup) is being stored, you don’t need to feed any more. I would suspect that in CT, you have a good nectar flow right now, so I would be very surprised if they need more food. In fact, they may not have used all that you gave them - 2 gallons is a generous feed.

I use 3 golden rules for adding a new box, whether it is a second brood box, or a harvesting super, the rules are always the same. The existing box has:

  1. Fully drawn comb covering most of every frame, and
  2. The comb is 80% full of brood, pollen or honey, and
  3. Every frame is well covered with bees

If you use those rules, the hive will have enough bees to defend, heat and use the new space you are giving them. Peter said more or less the same thing, I just have the nit-picky details in my rules. :blush:

Depending on how strong the nucleus was, and how good the nectar flow is, I usually inspect one to 2 weeks after installing a nucleus. As Peter says, during the nectar flow season (Spring to early Fall), I inspect weekly to check for space, stores, health and swarming intentions. I don’t inspect if I don’t have a specific question to answer. In order to prevent swarming, you do need to inspect weekly at this time of year, though.

I actually leave my entrances reduced all year. On the Flow hive, I block about half of it. My reason is that Tom Seeley (famous bee researcher) has done experiments which show that this is the size that bees prefer if given a choice of sizes. It allows enough ventilation, but also it is not too much for the guard bees to defend from robbers and pests. In late fall and over winter, you will need a mouse guard too, especially in your climate. Small rodents love warm hives with free food! :wink:


Thanks for the info, Dawn and Peter. Much appreciated!