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Supers in the winter-idea, France


Hello everyone,

I might be a bit early with this question, but I’ve got a hive with a regular/traditional shallow super on it which the bees might not have enough time left to fill and cap before the season is over and I have to get the hive winter-ready.

Maybe the uncapped honey might be ready and whatever is there can be harvested anyway, but I probably should not count on that. I don’t see how storing (partially) uncapped frames could work and I do not like the idea of the bees losing warmth to the super, in the winter. So, normally, the super would have to come off for the winter.

However, what do you folks think of this idea:
What if I would place a wooden board in between the brood box and the super (like one would a queen excluder), and have only a small hole in it of, say, a couple of square centimeters. This way, the warmth of the colony does not seep away to the super (as much), but the bees can visit the super to make use of the uncapped nectar/honey that is still in the frames.

The same could be done with supers containing flow frames, I suppose, but I have no idea if there are any risk involved in letting the flow frames out in the winter.

I’d be intereste in your thoughts on this idea.



You can do that, but you still have the risk that the whole cluster will move up to where the food is stored, leaving the queen to die below the board… :cry:

It might be better to put the uncapped stores below the brood box, without an excluder. When the box is empty, you can then remove it. Just a thought.


If you make that hole maybe 1 cm square there is a good chance the bees will rob the honey out and move it down to the brood box. You would have to clear the bees from it first then put it on empty of bees with your board between. It’s a recognised way of cleaning wet supers so might well work particularly if you bruise all the cappings.
If you nadir the box as Dawn has suggested they will move the stores capped and uncapped up in a matter of days. I have tried both methods and find putting the box under works better. I leave the box under till the first inspection the next year.


If you try to separate the two sections of the hive as you’ve described, however big or small the hole, all the warmth WILL escape into the top box, and they’re then more likely to chill in the bottom box. Just leave the two boxes as they are, but remove any Queen excluder for the winter, otherwise if the colony moves up into the top box, the queen may get isolated in the brood chamber. When it gets cold, the bees cluster closer together, their physical proximity reduces convection and heat loss. As the winter progresses, they will ‘eat their way’ up the comb, ending up at the last stores at the top of the frames at the end of the winter. The uncapped cells will get eaten first, so there no problem with having those in the hive. In the spring, put the QX back making sure the queen is below. If the queen has laid in the top box it’s no problem, the nursery bees will tend them, after they emerge the comb will be used for stores again. Two boxes without a QX is ideal as they’ll have plenty of stores for the winter, and plenty of room to start bringing stores in and creating brood when spring starts.

Remember, the bee doesn’t know that the brood box and super box are “different”, as far as the bee is concerned it’s just one continuous hive.


Thanks for the replies, much appreciated! :slight_smile:


I came looking for wintering ideas. I’m in North Texas with mostly mild winters, but still definitely can/will get cold enough to not want that queen left alone in the brooder. We’ll likely get some days in the middle of winter where the bees will get to foraging, as well. I have one brood box, QX, and flow super on top. After reading this, I’m thinking I’ll just remove the QX and use the bee brush come spring to get everybody below the excluder and put my QX back.
We got these bees installed in May this year (only 1 hive) so this year is our big experiment/learning process…even though learning will continue on…I put the super on after a few months because the brood frames were mostly filled. It’s been fascinating checking the progress of the bees sealing those sells in the flow frames. At first all the cells had gaps and some were even slightly off from perfect alignment…but now they all look great thru the observation windows. Also, this year we’ve had regular rains (unusual for here in the summer) so our property and all around us there are TONS of flowers in bloom (and have been all summer)…we live in a VERY rural area - definitely out in the boonies. But now I have a plan on how to approach wintering and seems like they’ll have plenty of their own natural food as I’ve been seeing bees going into that super with their pollen load, thanks guys and gals.


If it was my hive, I would drain anything in the Flow super, then remove the super and the QX for the winter. However, I also prefer to have 2 brood boxes, so my bees would have plenty of space without the super.

If you leave the Flow super on over winter, you may get some larvae in it, but the bees may also put a lot of propolis in it. In winter, they go into “let’s gum it all up and stop the draughts” mode. Propolis could make the next harvest very tricky. Just a thought. :blush:


I didn’t mind possible brood in it, I figured that’d work itself out after I got the queen below the QX in the spring…BUT clean forgot about gluing all over the place. Good point. Looks like I’m pulling the super, thank you very much.
I was torn about 1 or 2 brood boxes…I do have another box here in the house, I figure on adding it as a second brood box about next March. I’m very happy for your suggestions.


what is your winter like? If your climate is Mediterranean like ours- with little frost and/or snow- and some nectar and warm days- perhaps you can leave your flow super on as is. This is my plan next for our next winter. Last winter we removed the super- but the bees came through with large stores of capped honey, and were out foraging on many days in winter. I think we could have easily left the flow super on- in our climate.


Winters aren’t bad here…but it is possible to have a week or so long cold spell near or below freezing. I’d worry even with a mild winter a couple cold nights/days and she’d be left alone. There are normally quite a few days in winter it’ll get warm enough for the bees to forage…but cold snaps sure would make me worry. North Texas means temps can fluctuate pretty wildly that time of year.


If you have that sort of winter it’s worth remembering that if you have a super in, any super, to collect honey you must be expecting a surplus