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Newbee with transition to wintering questions

Hello all - This is my first post so forgive me if I break any etiquette or post protocols. Maybe there is already a post on my questions. I appreciate anyone’s advice and thoughts on my particular situation.
I live in the US near Chicago IL, I got my nuc of 5 frames in late June and transferred them into my Flowhive Brood box that holds 8 frames. I knew to wait until the bees filled out the three empty frames before I added the super on top. My last inspection they have only fully filled in one of the 3 and 1/3 of a 2nd frame. One frame is still empty. I believe they are doing well and are happy, of course, I am still learning and taking lots of notes on everything I am observing. They are really storing up goldenrod at the moment as it grows crazy around us. I feel like it is too late to add the super as the temperatures will drop considerably in the next month or two, my question is should I add a second brood box for winter? Or just leave the hive as is and add the super in the spring? How much should I expect the bees to fill out during winter? I don’t want to add to their work to keep hive warm if the extra box isn’t necessary and I don’t want to leave them without enough stores for the winter. What is this newbee to do?

Thanks again for your thoughts!

Probably best to ask your local beekeepers about their set up, one or two brood boxes. In Ohio, which is not far off climate-wise, people go both ways, overwintering in singles or doubles. Some successfully overwinter 5 frame nucs. You’ll want to be sure that if you go forward with a single box that they are absolutely packed to the gills with stores, you will likely need to feed unless your goldenrod and aster flow is substantial, which it sounds like it might be.

Your bees don’t have time to add a second box if they have not fully drawn the first 8 frames. They will not build any comb until the spring comes and early nectar starts flowing. if you’re lucky, they’ll get some willow and maple early.

Consider a dummy board or some insulation, you don’t want empty space inside the hive for them to have to keep warm.

Would definitely recommend wrapping, probably insulating, with a quilt box on top.


Thank you, this is really helpful. I will reach out to my local beekeepers as well. When do you think I should I determine if the dummy board is neccesary? When do the bees stop drawing comb? Currently they are still at it. We have LOTS of goldenrod and aster around us.

Is there a good resource for the insulating materials?

Thanks again for your help!

They’re best at it in the spring - but they will draw more if they need to during a nectar flow or if they are getting a strong flow.

When it gets colder - when nights consistently under 50°F should be ok.

Regular hardware store - Lowes, Ace, Home Depot etc.

You can put a layer of foam board insulation (comes up to 2” thick) around the hive and a quilt box or some more of the foam board on top under the roof. You could probably put some fiberglass insulation under the gable roof too. Lots of controversy about how much ventilation, insulation, etc is needed… but insulating the top well so that you don’t get condensation dripping on the cluster makes sense to me.