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Trouble populating the 2nd brood box


HI, I’m new to beekeeping this season and installed my nuc in November 2018.

I added a new brood box (on top) of the full one a few weeks ago and I’m noticing that the bees are patrolling around it, but not building out the frame.

I found an earlier post (but now cannot find it) where someone on this forum decided to mix up the frames across the two boxes to spread the bees out. Average temp over next few weeks is between 20 - 35 degrees in Melbourne, Australia so temparature shouldn’t be an issue in our mid Summer.

Just wondering if I’m about to make a stupid amateur mistake?

My other thought was the the boxes and frames are brand new. Maybe they just smell too foreign to the bees?

Thoughts from any experienced beekeepers?


As you started from a nuc in last November I would be really wondering if a second brood box was needed, maybe the lack of interest in the 2nd brood box is because the bees are wondering why you added it too.
Spreading brood out in both boxes with night temps about 20c is something I wouldn’t do with the bee numbers in the colony still having to build up.

As a new beekeeper how did you assess that a 2nd brood box was needed? What percentage of the average of the frames had cells in use?
I fear you may have already made a mistake by over estimating the strength of your colony.
But welcome to the forum where you will find heaps of reading as well as to ask questions of people happy to give you good advice.


Thanks Peter,

When inspecting the hive recently all frames were in use, the outer frames had some stored honey. I assumed that meant they were full but maybe I’m under-estimating how long it takes a colony to build up.

I haven’t added the flow super yet either.

The colony doesn’t appear stressed. I might have to do a bit more research.



Thanks Ally, but were all of the frames in full use? 90% of the cells with nectar, pollen or brood at various stages? Seeing a frame in use is ok but of more interest is the amount of the frames in use. 8 frames sounds good but if the average use of the cells is only 50% then what you really have is 4 frames in full use.
What I do from experience is not to add a 2nd brood box till you can estimate 90% average of all the cells on all the frames is in use. For example last week I added an 8 frame super above a QX with a single brood box that was a split in last August. All of the frames had a large covering of bees as well.
When you are going to add a Flow Super I would advise brushing on some melted bees wax onto the cells of the frames, the bees to take to it much faster than the clean plastic.
Glad to be of help, much better to bounce an idea around before doing it, ok. That the bees were calm and not stressed is a good indicator that all was well as it was, if for whatever reason, the bees were a bit agro then that need looking into as to a possible reason. A quiet hive is a good hive normally.


Thanks Peter, I might take another look.



A few pics with the frame numbers and with the bees still on the frames would help. If in doubt yell out for help


I would forget the Flow box this season. Let them build up and if they make enough honey steal a bit for yourself. The lack of comb building could be as simple as a derth in your area. They will not build comb if there is no need.

See as a question and get n+1 opinions.



Thanks Rmcpb, I’m planning to take a closer look on the weekend to get photos of the frames etc so I get a better picture of what is going on.

You might be right about not needing the flow super this year.



Reckon I am right about the Flow frames. There is an old saying that you don’t expect to harvest from a new hive in its first year. Let them establish then you will have a strong hive next year.



@Rmcpb Rob is right with that advice Ally. Like a lot of beginners maybe you are expecting too much too soon. Your first season should be all about building up your hive and for you to do inspections and learn about your bees. A time for you to adjust to ‘bee time’. It may happen that the supers are not needed in the first season but that doesn’t mean the season has been a failure.
Sit back, relax, have a coffee and enjoy watching the colony expand.


Just prior to the strongest buildup time (spring), and if the single brood chamber has a minimum of bees covering 3/4 of the frames and lots of brood on 4 frames or more, I under-super. Then 10 to 2 weeks later, I reverse the brood chambers …by then the frames are cleaned and polished…queen-ready. Supering is unlikely to stress them when under supering…but means an extra trip back to the hive to do the reversal.

Sounds like your season has progressed a bit too much for supering…but I really don’t know for sure if you have a later flow. Under supering, in our part of the world, reduces chalkbrood significantly…haven’t seen a chalkbrood mummy for decades.

When a typical hive is on full spring buildup mode, we observe one extra box of bees every 3 to 4 weeks.


Is the term called under-supering even if it’s a second brood box? (Ally only mentioned 2 brood boxes, no supers).
And does “under-supering” mean adding the Super/brood box under the first full brood box?


[quote=“Faroe, post:12, topic:20652”]

Good point of clarification Faroe.

In this part of the world, I’ve heard the term “under-supering” used in two contexts:

a) placing a new (2nd) brood box under an existing active brood box to prevent chilling of the brood and supply additional food resources if needed…the queen can go down there if she needs the room.
b) placing new honey supers on a hive by lifting existing active honey supers off the queen excluder and inserting empty honey supers immediately on top of the queen excluder…then stacking the full/partially full active honey supers on top of the new honey supers…a swarm control strategy.