Should I add another brood box, or another super? Apparent pre-swarm behaviour

Hello all. This spring/summer is my first honey flow (Sydney, Australia) and I need an opinion on what should be my next step. Our hive is absolutely booming, to the point that I’m not sure how to handle it!

After a strong start to the spring, I added a second brood box around four weeks ago as I noticed a lot of what I assumed was pre-swarm behaviour (bees massing outside of the hive, not bearding/fanning as it was not a warm day). They quickly moved into the new brood box, and the Flow frames of the super were soon all full.

I have subsequently harvested a number of frames, and they seem to be replenished within a few days each time. My issue now is that I seem to be running out of room once again, and I have noticed large numbers of bees massing outside in the past few days!

I am worried about the hive becoming honey bound, but the new honey in the Flow frames is not yet ripe (it seems to be very runny) so I am reluctant to keep harvesting it. To complicate things, one of the frames I harvested yesterday showed evidence of a laying worker (I think) as there was one larvae that emerged when I harvested.

What would you all advise? To clarify the current hive configuration - I now have two full-depth brood boxes and and super with six Flow frames. Thanks so much in advance.


Hi Chris,
It sounds like you need to do a split or two. Have a read around on the internet and this forum on making splits. There is good information right here but I recommend reading the ‘Honeybee Suite’ website by Rusty Burlew as she discusses many types of splits. Also there’s a PDF by Wally Shaw (Welsh Beekeepers Association) called ‘An Apiary Guide to Swarm Control’ which may be helpful. Now what you do with the splits is a whole 'nother thing. I had just one hive in August and have four now! Planning to sell a couple of nucs if they build up well. I only have single brood boxes though. Sounds like you have a ton of bees. Good luck!


I agree. The easiest way to manage this is to take out two or three frames of brood with plenty of attached bees (but not the queen), plus another shake, a frame of honey and a frame of pollen. Put it all in to a nuc box and either buy a queen, a queen cell, or let them produce their own as an emergency response. A walk away split.

Now you can put in five foundation frames in the parent hive giving them heaps of room.

Good luck!


I agree, split and sell a nucleus or two, or gain some new hives for yourself. :wink:

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Yes. Split split.
Sounds a stonking good colony

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Me too ! I’m for the split as well ! Nice issue to have … How many hive do you have n how many do you want ?! If possible I’d keep at least 2 if not three colonies so you have plenty of resources when things are so robust n going well.

Does sound like you’re off to a great start anyway. You have a great problem … I love :heart:️ it when I’m presented with too many bees in the BOX/HIVE !

Good luck n keep on trucking down there. Winterizing up here near Seattle,


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Great! Thank you so much for all the advice guys, as per usual. Sounds like it’s time to split! I’ll call my local bee supplies store this morning to line up what I need.

Thanks again!

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Contrary to everyone else here, I would not rush to split until you have performed a thorough inspection of the brood box. You mentioned that you added a second brood box only 4 weeks ago, it is highly unlikely that they would have drawn and filled those 8 new frames in this time. Have you checked both brood boxes since then? The bees maybe treating one of the boxes as a honey super, there is nothing wrong with that but you might be better placed to remove the honey frames to allow the queen more room to lay. In Sydney we are in the midst of a nectar flow depending on where you live, the bees have been preparing for this for a couple of months, by performing a split you will effectively be reducing their colony strength and achieve nothing. My hives are all going strong on single brood boxes which are manipulated every 3 weeks depending on their numbers. As for brood in the Flow frames, you will need to lift the frames to see what is going on. Make sure you use a good quality queen excluder, the metal ones with the round bars are the best. If you have a good queen then there is next to no chance you have a laying worker so check for gaps… better to just replace the excluder. Also check for queen cells, because if you do find them then your hive will inevitably swarm and a split will help prevent this as long as take the old queen and leave 2 or 3 good sized queen cells. Hope this helps and apologies to anyone I upset for going against the grain here.


Just to throw my 2 bobs worth in. I too had a very strong hive in Sydney this being my first Spring. I was also worried about swarming, and seeing lots of bearding outside the hive. This was extreme at times where the entire hive was covered in bees. I decided to add a honey super as I didn’t really want a 2nd hive at this point. This seems to be going well. I am just harvesting the flow frames as soon as they are full and leaving the under super for the moment which the bees are filling nicely. I check the Flow frames before harvesting to make sure they are completely or at least 80% capped as at times, they may appear full in the observation window but on inspection, sometimes they are only partially capped.
Anyway, things are going well for now. Lots of honey and no more extreme bearding. So fingers crossed. PS. Obviously I will remove the 2nd Super for Winter and harvest the honeycomb.


Keeping “fingers crossed” isn’t the ideal strategy with beekeeping.
It’s far better to accommodate a second colony than to let a strong colony swarm. You could lose that swarm & possibly upset some neighbors (if that applies) in the process.

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I placed this flow super on the 14th August,
They have waxed up the frame that you can see through the inspection window on the side and I would say will start putting honey in soon, as you can see they are already placing honey into the right hand outer frame.
My question is, should I do the same as Chris and place another Brood box under the Super as we are just at the beginning of spring.
My brood box is chockers and the Bees are really busy bringing in a lot of pollen as well as nectar or my Flow wouldn’t be getting filled ;).
The Flow Super is new and this is the first fill and so from what I have read, takes a lot longer to fill than once it has been filled.
The three centre frames are full and fully capped the two on either side are about 80% capped, the outer left frame is waxed on the outside and 60% filled on the inside, the outer on the right is about 60% capped on the outside and about 70% capped on the inside.
Should I wait until the outer frames are full and capped before I harvest any honey or can you just harvest a frame or two as you please if they are capped ?


Are your brood frames mostly filled with capped and uncapped brood in all stages?

Do they appear to be backfilling the brood nest with honey at all?

Any queen cells?

Lots of brood capped and uncapped, Queen may be more aggressive but she is a hard worker, they moved a lot of the stored honey up into the Flow and now it’s mostly brood and bee bread.
With some capped and uncapped honey in the corners of the brood frames.

If a frame is 90% capped, you can extract it. I recommend you open it in 20% increments to avoid flooding the hive. Otherwise, no worries, just harvest and give them more room! :wink:


Sounds like they’re doing fine, but you will need to keep an eye on how full the honey super is so they don’t run out of space and start back filling the brood frames which could induce swarming.

Whether you should add another brood box I will leave to others more local to you to provide an answer. as double brood is much less common in QLD vs NSW.

Well thing is that the new Queen I am getting is coming from NSW ?

I did my harvest the other day Friday 11th September and the Bees did a great job of cleaning up any spills, the one thing I am unsure about is that now there is some honey in the frames I didn’t Harvest as well as a little at the bottom of the frames i did Harvest ?
Will they eventually remove this or do I need to place a tube back into the frames and let what can drain out ?

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I leave the frames in for 2-3 days after harvesting for the bees to clean up at the end of season. However, your season is about to start for real, so I would leave the frames there for now. What you might want to do is take out the round plastic flow tube caps and wiggle a cocktail stick (or a dental pick if you have one) from side to side from about 4 o’clock to about 8 o’clock just inside the bottom of the channel. The reason for this is that sometimes bees wax or propolis up the gap that is meant to drain honey from the channel. If they have blocked it, they can’t lick it up, so you need to release it.

They will love the recycle process and it will speed your next harvest! :blush:

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I saw the Bees sticking their tongues into that area trying to lap up the Honey but I think others have done as you say and propolised the gap, I will do as you suggest now :slight_smile:

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I will remember this for next time I harvest and make sure that gap is clear first and then Harvest.
As they say, it’s all a learning curve and once I have been doing this for 10 or 20 years I may get it right :slight_smile: