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Over 2nd Brood or Under 2nd Brood Box- that is my Question

Ok- so I have a five frame nucleus/swarm hive box that I have had a little colony building up in. It is now quite full- and starting to burst with bees. Instead of transferring it to a larger box- I am going to add another five frame box- either on top or below. I would just have added it on top- but I did that to another five frame nuc/split colony 3 weeks ago and the bees have been very slow to start working the new box upstairs. On the last inspection I ‘pyramided’ that hive to encourage it to move up.

I read about ‘nadiring’ and the warre hive methodology- and thought I might try adding the box below this time? Why not? The box I will add has two frames of wired foundation, and three foundation starter strip frames. I would be lifting the lower box off of the screened base and entrance, placing the new box in, and lifting the brood up. So suddenly they will have to climb down through the new box to reach the main entrance… (they have a smaller upper entrance built into the inner cover and this will move up a story. Will the bees have any serious issues having to climb down over the two foundations to get in and out?

Ultimately I want all ten frames in both boxes to be brood frames- to be transferred as a fully developed colony into a larger hive in a month or three.

Bees like to build downwards they say- so- given my set up- should I do it or not- interested in any pros or cons?

Greeting Michelle,

Morning from damp cool Seattle region. This spring I was able to catch one swarm n put it in 5 frame Nuc box. At the time my experience from yester year was always on top. I’ve never had person experience with Werre Hives so couldn’t pull from that exposure either.

Dawn is playing with the new box under idea n seems to work for her in S. Cali region. I’d read some of her comments to see more the why n maybe details since she has some experience that way.

That being said… I added not just one super but a second super on my swarm 5 frame with great success. I pulled a couple frames from it my mid-summer up here to help me strengthen two of other hives that were dragging their tails. I was going to add a fourth but by July 1st I’d ordered a Flow-hive set up and was able to transfer all 15 deep frames to my newly arrived Flow. So it was a win win for me n my Spring Swarm. This colony is still my strongest going into our Puget Sound winter. I did treat for mites but they had the lowest mite count n seem to be healthy n ready for a long winters nap with plenty of honey reserves.

At the end of July I ordered a new queen because I’d lost one in my Birch hive … By the time my queen arrived this colony had successfully requeened. So now what do I do with an extra $50.00 Majestry ?!? Brain storm…:bulb:… Yip ! I grabbed that old Nuc box n selectively pulled five frames (mix of brood, frame of mixed brood with lots of nurse bees on it, n a frame of nectar/pollen… Thus five good frame. It took off n now is entering winter as a double deep Nuc ! We’ll see next Spring 2017 if my Alder Hive successful winters over :+1:. Hope so … If so I’ll build into a 3 or 4 deep tower I can pull resources from or start a new 8 or 10 frame hive. I enjoy trying new things but still keep my feet grounded on land I know best n go from there.

Michelle. This isn’t to sway you one way or another but to encourage you to try new ways. I’m guessing both over n under will be successful but if you’ve studied the “under method” give it a try n let us know how it went … :+1:… Nothing ventured so nothing gained young lady.

Happy beekeeping,


I am going to try the box under on one of my hives this coming spring. I did the on top with one this summer. The only thing I would recommend doing is to checkerboard comb filled frames with the new frames. This will allow them to draw out straight comb on the new frames. I did this with the hive I added the second deep brood box to and it worked well.

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I switched my second brood box from the top to the bottom this summer, a couple of weeks of effort produced comb sticking up from the tops of the lower frames like toaster waffles popping up. They got going decently after I moved it downstairs. I would agree with @John_Yeager’s recommendation about checkerboarding to give them a head start.

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Depends if your using foundationless frames, I like to put the second box below the first. If I’m using frames with foundation or has comb, then I put it on top.

My hive at the apartments I added a 5 frame NUC box with foundationless frames and they built, then filled all the comb with nectar within a month. Recently transferred them to a double 8 frame box that they already have nearly full and they are still very active.

At my house I just added a second 5 frame NUC box to a colony there, but several frames had drawn out comb and the others had foundation, so that was added to the top. I’ll be checking progress on that hive in a few weeks.

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I have never seen it matter. I only do it during a good flow so the bees build comb wherever there is space available. This year in my top bar hive they had no choice but to progress sideways and did so without issue. I think the problems arise when they don’t want to build but we try and force them.


thanks for your thoughts everyone.

I will be using 2 foundation and 3 foundationless frames- checkerboarded. That way each foundationless has either a wall or a sheet of foundation on each side of it. This is the advantage of stacking 5 frame nuc boxes: the walls will help to keep foundationless frames straight. BUT: I had thought you would have to use at least some foundation if you nadir- so the bees have a ‘ladder’ to climb up into the second box? Is there a reason you say if you have foundation you put it up top? Is your entrance upper or lower?

Not at all. They are perfectly capable of climbing up the side bars of each frame.


Ok- so is there any reason not to use foundation if you nadir a brood box?

My only concern at this stage is that the bee entrance will have moved in relation to the main brood nest- but I don’t see that that will bother them much if at all.

Putting my limited observations in.
Everything to me seems to depend on the strength of the hive. @JeffH and other professional beekeepers have emphasised from the start that a strong healthy hive overcomes most things.

In a strong hive I don’t think it matters if you go above or below for a second brood box. I added a second brood box below brood box No1 when it was 90% full of brood and pollen and honey. My No2 brood box has 13 frames X wise and only a starter strip of wood. In 3 weeks they had built it out. Last Thursday I put on the FlowHive super and they seem to be really getting stuck into that .

The bees had limited exposure to Flow hive frames from end of last Mar to May and they just seemed to be a mob of tyre kickers poking around. This time though with two brood box’s they were into it in earnest from day 1. Just think the hive is that much stronger and I now have high hopes.

Other reason for the second brood box was to do a walk away split sometime in the future.

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No. I have done it with mostly with foundation. I think the comment was just that if you do use foundationless frames, nadiring can help prevent creative comb building better than supering.

My bees don’t seem to care about that at all, but they are already above a slatted rack, so the brood is never right next to the entrance.