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Planning for Package hive stack for the rest of year

My daughter and I have a Flow Hive 2 with a package that we installed into the brood box on May 8. We live in Connecticut, and had some die off in the shipping of the package from Georgia. Almost six weeks later, the bee population seems to be growing nicely, and comb covers about 40+% of six of our eight frames, and about 15% of the outer two frames.

My question is: what should we add next to our hive stack? I’m guessing based on colony population, climate, etc. that we won’t be harvesting any honey for ourselves this year. So options for next steps seem to be (once the current frames are almost fully built out):

  1. Add another deep brood box without a queen excluder. This would let the bees create a mix of honey, brood, etc., and hopefully store enough honey for themselves to get through the winter. Would it be best to use all foundationless frames, or a mix of foundation and foundationless?

  2. Add a medium or shallow super with foundation frames, with a queen excluder, for them to use just for honey storage. Since the bees are from Georgia, maybe they would not store enough honey if they had a full brood box to use, so this would encourage them to save more honey?

  3. Something else?

Any insights would be appreciated!

Thanks,

Nick

P.S.: we are currently using our Flow honey super box as a brood box, so we can check how they are doing via the windows. We are going to put them back into the real brood box in about a week, when the main combs connect on the bottom of the frames, for strength. Here is a picture of how the frames are being combed out so far:

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Welcome to the group. Things look to be progressing well. I think you are too early to put another brood box or the honey super on by the view into that window. Until almost all the frames have comb on them you shouldn’t add another box. I would recommend you stick with the same size box as the Flow Hive rather than mix your frames of mediums and deeps for example. Mediums work great as honey supers, but obviously you have the Flow super for that so you won’t need it. Having the bees use a medium as a brood box isn’t something typically done unless you have no more boxes and are stuck temporarily. Mixing sizes of frames is expensive and in my opinion limiting your options unless you have mobility issues/health concerns about lifting deep boxes. I like to use deep foundation less frames for the brood box and waxed plastic black frames for the super. This lets the bees make drones in the brood box (the cells they build for drones are slightly bigger) too and since you aren’t harvesting from the brood box you let them do what they do there. The honey super gets more handling to harvest and I like the plastic for the support it provides during extraction spinning and just carrying around from box.

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From the photo Nick there is no reason to add another box, it shouldn’t be added till the bees have completely built comb on every frame and 80% 0f all the cells is in use for brood, nectar, capped honey and pollen. Till then they have no need of extra space.
I agree with Tim, don’t go mixing frame and box sizes, there is only a few advantages but a lot more disadvantages.
The bees will have already adjusted to Connecticut climate, most of the Georgia bees will have already died of old age and those still alive don’t remember.
A common mistake for new bee keepers is giving a colony more space than they need to, they can suffer in a cold snap.
Cheers

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Hi Tim and Peter, thanks for the feedback. Yes, I agree, I don’t intend to add another box until the first one is almost full, as Peter described. But I want to have a plan for what I’m doing next, so that I can get the appropriate box (and prime and paint it) and frames and have it ready when we reach that point.

So assuming I’m only going to add one more box for this year (and that we are not going to use our Flow super, that any honey is for the bees to get through winter), you both seem to agree that another deep without a queen excluder would be appropriate. Would it be appropriate to use frames with foundation (like these) to give the bees a head start on the second box?

Thanks,

Nick

Yes, you can use those frames from Amazon; I use them all the time and have great success. I do like foundation less as well to mix them as every-other-frame sort of thing but the bees don’t seem to care one way or the other. I just like the option to cut comb if I want to. I’ve been experimenting with not using queen excluders on my non-flow hives and I’m actually liking it. It makes inspection a bit more involved of course if you aren’t sure where the queen is, but so far in my case she is staying in the lowest box just fine.

In my apiary every frame I make up is made of wood which I wire and fit bees wax foundation but I’m maybe a bit of a traditionalist and the bees wax in Australia is clean of any chemicals that are harmful to bees. In the US there seems to be a problem with the wax there so the frames you are asking about would be a viable option. I did experiment with plastic foundation but in my experiment I had to much warping of the plastic so went back to bees wax, I could never get a sensible answer as to why the plastic warped, it may have been a bad batch as I only bought 50 to see if they were a good option.
So yes, in your climate a second brood box when it is needed is the way to go.
Cheers

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