Putting new empty frames in extremely full brood box

We are just heading into winter in this part of the world (Victoria, Australia). The brood box is pumping, absolutely packed with honey (most of it capped), covered in bees all the way to the outside frames. I’m not sure whether to take a couple of end frames out and swap with empty frames as I am scared as soon as it warms up again in September they will swarm as there’s no room.

Also conscious that I don’t want to take out all their food, but also don’t want to lose them to them swarming. I had a flow hive super on for 2 months over summer and they didn’t move up into that at all (aside from the tiniest bit of wax), so I removed the super last inspection.

If it was me I’d leave the bees the supplies until spring, there is a long winter ahead and they’ll need food.
As for swarming, it’s a natural tendency of bees to want to do it. I would put the flow super on the moment it starts to warm up. It was mid July this year, but is normally is a few weeks later. The extra space may help prevent swarming but it doesn’t guarantee they won’t.

Hi Sezzy and welcome! I’m not anywhere near you in the world but the fact that bees need nectar to build comb remains true everywhere :earth_asia::cherry_blossom::honeybee: so I guess I would base your decision on whether there’s any nectar to be had out there at the moment. I do face a similar choice in fall sometimes, so I added a couple more ways to go depending on flow strength, weather outlook, etc to the two choices mentioned so far (yours and @MikeInVic’s), see below:

  1. Take honey frames/replace with empties
  2. Leave as is for winter
  3. Take honey frames, extract and put stickies back
  4. Put a shallow super on with foundation frames

Hello and welcome to the Flow forum! :blush:

In the spirit of the tradition of “ask 3 beekeepers a question and you will get 5 answers…” I would like to add a little suggestion.

If you have sufficient freezer space, you could take one or two frames out of the hive, wrap them in cling film or plastic (they tend to leak) and store them upright in the freezer. Then put your empty frames in the brood box. Now you have insurance in the freezer. If the bees don’t use the empty frames, defrost them for 24 hours and give them back to the hive. If they need more food in the Spring instead, put the full frames back in the hive. Full frames of honey are liquid gold for the bees, and can give them a tremendous boost when they are running short.

I would store them in the freezer though - prevents crystallization, kills wax moths and hive beetles and keeps out rodents and other pests.

Hope that helps a bit! :wink:


What @Dawn_SD suggested is exactly what I did. Two hives packed down to singles for winter getting over crowded. It gave them space and I still have the frames if needed.


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Hi Sarah, welcome to the forum.

Going by your description of the brood box, I would be inclined to take one or two frames of honey for personal use. Of course that would depend on what the bees are currently bringing in, as well as what they will likely bring in between now & winter.Advice from locals could be helpful in that area.

I helped some clients crush & strain two honey frames for personal use out of a brood box this time of the year a few years back. At the time I knew that the bees would quickly replace the honey into the fully drawn frames that I used as replacements. The people were thrilled with the first honey from out of their hive.

Bare in mind that the bees will constrict the brood going into winter, which will reduce the population considerably, however going into spring, they will quickly expand again, which means you wont need to worry about the colony swarming until then.