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Two broods or two honey supers?


Hi all

Seeking some advice/ optinions on hive steptup. Our hives are currently a brood box, queen excluder and honey super. We are planing on adding a flow hive on top and only taking honey from the flow hive.

Should we move the queen excluder to create two broods or leave excluder where is and have two honey supers?

Thank you in advanced.



Hi Sam, for what it’s worth, my suggestion would be to get a fourth super. Have a second colony with one brood & one honey super for each colony. I also live in Qld.


Hi Sam, I am in Sydney and only need to run 1 brood box, I then use a standard super on top (separated with a queen excluder) for swarm management from now till November. The Flow box is the 2nd super on top. Jeff has a good point, you don’t need 2 brood boxes in our climate, if you lived in Victoria, Tassie or SA its a different story. Hopefully, you are prepared to do a little frame manipulation in your brood box every few weeks to create more laying space for your queen, it also acts as a method to cull old and dirty brood frames for fresh ones. After November, you can either remove the standard super entirely leaving only the Flow box or leave it where it is.


@Rodderick and @JeffJ, while @SamD might not need the second brood box due to climatic reasons, what would be the pro/con to implementing a second brood box instead of the second super?


Hi Alan, I can only speak from personal experience and exposure to beekeepers who have been working and studying the best methods for keeping bees in NSW and QLD with a bias towards commercial beekeeping. I find a single brood box to be simpler to manage and inspect, contrary to belief that you will get more bees and more honey, I found that more bees consume more honey and it just cancels out any percieved benefit. If you are in a cold climate then I can understand because the bees in the cluster may all move up above the queen excluder and leave the queen behind. Here in my climate this is highly unlikely as the queen continues to lay right through winter, nurse bees will not leave brood behind. Happy for you take in any other advice as I know some beekeepers using the 2 brood box method and are happy with it, inspecting 2 boxes of brood every few weeks fills me with dread, I have over twenty hives as a small side business.


@Rodderick, thanks. My query wasn’t entirely altruistic; I’m toying with a decision to run a second brood chamber.

Last season I had 1x brood box, 2x supers; this season I was contemplating 2x brood, 2x super. As I only have one hive my thinking was that a second brood box gives additional insurance in the event of the queen dying unexpectedly (i.e. increased ability of raising queen cells). Inspecting two brood chambers is the part making me hesitate.


I would have thought you would get a higher level of insurance if you ran two hives (1 x brood and 1 honey each). The management may even be simpler on the two hives than a 4 decker.


@AdamMaskew Correct - You would have better insurance from two hives vs one. But running two hives in an urban backyard isn’t always a real option.


Yes I understand that. I’ve got a spot in my back yard I can have 2 x 8 frame and 1 x 4 frame nuc.

You could “mount” the second colony (hive) on your first. You’d be 4 deeps high but at lease have two colonies. Might be an option to consider.


Ive seen 10 three story 10 frame hives in a single urban backyard ‘jungle’- without counting the various nucs… Myself I run just 4 ;-).

@Rodderick we have had good results so far running multiple single brood/single flow super 8 frame hives around Adelaide. Our winters are pretty mild- no frosts, snow, etc.


Nice! … thats what we like to hear. Nothing wrong with singles in a cool climate, you just need to make sure the bees have enough stores to get through the winter and can the queen can move up if the cluster moves up.


Hi Alan, I find one brood box to be “just right”. The key is to make sure that all the frames in the brood are A1 for producing workers. With that strategy in place, the hive will be overflowing with bees in no time, given the right conditions.

My experience with 2 brood boxes was: when there was a dearth, the bees concentrated on producing brood in the top box, leaving the bottom box with no brood but lots of pollen. These frames not getting guarded by workers as much as they guard the brood, leaves those frames in the bottom box vulnerable to SHB damage, if one happens to be in an area where SHB is a problem.

It does make swarm prevention harder with 2 brood boxes. In the right conditions, the bees certainly build up strong with 2 brood boxes, however, if the colony swarms, & you don’t catch it, you lose a LOT of bees.

Added to the list of cons is the extra expense & time involved in preparing the second super. I believe that the extra super & frames is better served with a second colony.

I’ve been saying this for a while now that I reckon two queens are better than one.


Thank you for all the advice :smile:
Will give us something to think about and make a more informed decision.
Checking our hives this weekend!!


@JeffH, thanks for those comments. They are greatly appreciated. I might stay with one brood chamber and simply double my honeycomb production this year :slight_smile:


Hi, you’re most welcome. Just a little tip: you’ll need to work out what you’re going to do to prevent your hive from swarming in the coming months, if that is what you want. I got my first phone call about a swarm yesterday, so it’s happening over here already.


@JeffH thanks. Yeah, I’ve already got swarm control in mind. I’ve still got a hybrid super on my hive so that should hopefully give me a little bit of time (I’m pretty sure there is still space available in the frames). As soon as I get a day without rain or strong winds I’ll be able to open the hive up.


We haven’t had any rain here for a long time. Plus the swarm was at Gympie, an hour north of us. I think with all the rain you’re getting at the moment, you should be ok for a while.