Super vs. Additional Brood Box

So, this is my 2nd year of beekeeping. My first colony died over the winter and I purchased a new nuc which was installed in mid-May, so they haven’t overwintered yet. They seem to be doing exceedingly well, quickly filling out the first brood box, so I added another a couple of weeks ago. Again, they’re doing REALLY well and are close to having the 2nd brood box filled with drawn comb. Overall, it’s been great.

Now… at the rate they’re going, it appears that they’ll be ready to expand again soon. I suppose I could add the super, but it seems a bit early in the season. My guess is that they could keep expanding if I let them. So the question is: What’s the best approach? Put the HoneyFlow super on, or add another brood box and let them expand a bit more? I know I could split them, but everything I’ve read says “Don’t split a first year colony”, and honestly, I’m not sure I want to tackle that process yet.

Finally, I’m not in any rush to harvest honey. My biggest concern is setting them up to survive the winter. I’m thinking a 3rd brood box, then maybe splitting next spring. Would love input.

As info, I’m in Oregon.

In your climate, you should probably have 2 brood boxes for overwintering. It seems that you have that now. You shouldn’t need a third brood box. Please make sure that the following are all true before you add another box or Super:

  1. Every frame has fully drawn comb on most of the frame, and
  2. Every frame is 80% full of food or brood, and
  3. Every frame is completely covered with bees

It is actually a bit late for the Super in most areas, unless you have a strong Fall flow from something special locally. Most nectar flows are over by mid-July. Nothing to lose by adding the Super and see what they do with it, if the above rules are all true. They will take to it faster if you smear some burr comb across the plastic frames.

Thanks Dawn,

Yeah, understand that those things need to be true. It just looks like that’s going to happen very quickly.

Thanks for the info. If it does happen, I’ll pop the super on top then and see how it goes.

OK, so I did add the honeyflow super with a queen excluder a few weeks ago. However, it seems as if they’re not taking to the super and instead are just crowding up the brood boxes even more. The brood boxes are 100% full, and during inspection this past weekend I saw significant cross-combing, where there had been none before. It’s a bit of a mess. I’m considering just removing the super and adding a 3rd brood box. Is that an appropriate solution? I’d much rather ensure I’m doing right by the bees than worry about getting any honey out of them.

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Did you wax the Flow frames? Also, July is late for adding a super. If you think they are crowded, I would consider adding a traditional super (with foundation or drawn comb) above the queen excluder. It may just be that they aren’t getting the message that plastic is home too, or it may be that your nectar flow is over, even if the lower boxes are crowded. Any thoughts from your local bee club about nectar flow right now?


Thanks Dawn. Yup, waxed the frames before installing.

I’m heading over to our local beekeepers’ shop tomorrow to talk to someone and maybe pick up a super and frames. It may sound silly, but I actually wonder if the bees are bigger than what the excluder allows for. I got this colony from a new provider that specializes in “hearty” bees, and the first time I looked at them when I opened up the nuc I thought “Geez, these ladies look, um, healthy.” Anyway, thanks again for your advice.


Ummm you’ve got the super On back to front there Mark.:upside_down_face:
Not sure adding another brood box is a good idea. Is there much brood in the 2nd brood now or is it mostly honey? Every extra brood box you add doubles your inspection time.
Is that a varnish on the boxes? It looks good.

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Not sure why the direction of the super matters to the bees? It doesn’t change their access.
¯_(ツ)_/¯ And indeed, totally get that it adds time to the inspection process, but not sure what else to do other than split it, which I’m not super stoked about doing at the end of July. There’s quite a bit of brood in the second box. Yup, varnished with a low VOC poly and it looks great.

The direction of the super doesn’t affect the bees filling it.
But when it comes time to extract, you will be standing in their flight path, as well as having many more bees finding your open honey jars and getting stuck in the extracted honey.


Hey Dawn, just an update to close this off… A day or two after our correspondence, suddenly the bees figured out that the super was indeed a good spot and started working on it. They’ve been going gangbusters on it for about a month, now.

Thanks for your feedback!