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Second Brood Box Empty

Very new beekeeper here. When I bought my nuc my mentor told me I would need a second brood box. So I waited about 6 weeks then added a second brood box over a month ago. So far there has been nothing in the second brood box. Have I done something wrong? Should they have moved up already or am I just too eager? I don’t know what to do or even if I should do anything. Thanks for any advice.

Not sure how close you are to @Eva but not too far away in central Ohio things are getting a little tight for the bees when it comes to nectar sources.

In addition, to quote @Dawn_SD:

Assuming the above is true, you may also need to feed your bees to help them draw out and fill the frames that you’ve added. In your area there may be significant fall nectar from asters and goldenrod, which will give your bees a late boost before winter.

And always, be vigilant for pests, especially mites.


Hi Myke, you’re about an hour or so west of where I am near Philly, and Alok is right - we are now in a nectar dearth so it’s probably the same for you. Having a second brood box is good for overwintering in cold climates, but not if it can’t be filled with comb, stores and bees before dearth hits. Even feeding sugar water may not help, because the bees know what time it is, and will set their own priorities according to seasonal and colony health factors we can sometimes only guess at. Luckily, many beekeepers in cold climates do overwinter their single-box and nucleus colonies successfully! Personally I favor a deep plus a medium going into fall, and I use solid bottom boards, plus insulation under the lid and on the sides.

If your second brood box is pretty vacant, it may be best to remove it. When was your last inspection and what did you find, pest and general health-wise? Did you see the queen or recently laid eggs or young larvae? A lot of drones or a normal amount?


Eva, thanks for replying. I checked just last night. Lots of workers cells and some drones. I actually haven’t found my queen yet but I did see larvae. Overall health seems good. No pests that I could see.

There’s still a lot of bloom around here. My hydrangeas and hibicus just bloomed and we’re ready for a second round on the bee balm. Should I wait a little longer? If I remove the second brood box should I put it back next year? Or just my super?

Thanks for the help,

My panicle hydrangeas attract a lot of bees but the (hardy) hibiscus and bee balm don’t.

Even though some ornamental shrubs may lessen the severity of the dearth, they probably don’t provide enough to really build.

Do you have the super on top of the empty second brood box or did you have the super on top of the first brood box? Maybe I am misunderstanding your question but you shouldn’t have had your super on at all until all the brood boxes you intend to over winter with are chock-full with bees on all frames.

If you plan to over winter this year with a single box then you can decide next spring whether to add a second brood box or just go straight to having the super on (above an excluder).

Since this is my first year, I don’t have a super on at all. I was asking about next year. But I will wait until then to decide about a second brood box.

Thanks for all your help.

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Good to hear! But - keep in mind that varroa mites are almost guaranteed to be present in any colony here in the US, and by the time a beekeeper can actually see them on bees, the infestation is already out of control. Even if you never spot one, your strong colony could succumb to mite-borne illness and weakening by early fall when bee numbers naturally decrease in preparation for winter - and mite numbers increase. It’s a good time to decide on your mite management strategy, and there’s lots of helpful info here if you need some :+1: