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Two Supers Full of Sugar Syrup Honey

Hello all.

I have a deep brood box. On top of that I have two mediums. I fed all winter. I live in Texas. The flow will start in a couple of months. There is no sign the bees are going to eat the sugar syrup honey before the flow. So the odds are I will have two full mediums (sugar syrup honey) come time to put on my flow hive. Do I just leave all of the sugar water honey there and place the flow hive on top of that? Will the mediums with the sugar honey go bad? From what I have read the bees have usually eaten all of the sugar water honey by the spring and this isnt an issue. Not true with me.



I would take both off when the nectar flow starts. Maybe even take one off now.

If you do that, the bees may put syrup into the Flow honey super. That degrades the quality of your honey.

Well, let’s think about this for a bit. The syrup won’t ferment or “go bad” if it is capped.

However, if you take it off the hive, it won’t be protected by the bees any more (from wax moths, ants, wasps etc). So my preference would either be to extract it if you you access to a honey centrifuge, or freeze it if you have copious freezer space. If you wrap it tightly first, and freeze for 48 hours, that will kill any SHB or wax moth larvae. If it is capped, you can then store it at room temperature until you need it for feeding in the fall. If it is not capped, it needs to stay frozen until used for feeding, or centrifuged ASAP.

Either way, I would get those mediums off when the flow starts, or you will have honey contaminated with syrup. :blush:

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You can use those food stores for feeding the new colonies you are going to acquire this season :wink:


Dawn you are a hero. Great answers that I can understand. I will take one of the mediums off. To learn something new could you tell me why you recommend taking one off. I fully understand why we dont want them on when the flow starts, but why one now?

Is it fairly common for bees to move established honey (or syrup) out of capped comb and move it to another place in the hive? You mentioned that I think.

We are in Texas. Do your recommendations still apply?

Thanks so much!!


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Sorry, I should have clarified that a bit. I would take off the medium which looks the most full and capped. If they already have excess stores, you are removing the temptation for them to move food stores down into the brood box at a time when the queen needs space to lay. Some bees have a bad habit of honey-binding the brood box, which is a stimulus for swarming. If they have masses of food in the brood box already, they probably don’t need the remaining medium either.

I would only leave one medium on if there is space in the brood box, and the nectar flow is not expected for a month or two in your region. If you take the box (or even both boxes) off, and later inspection shows they are running short of food, you can always put it back on. But meanwhile you have removed some of the excess stores which may give them swarm ideas! :wink:

I have never had a hive which doesn’t do this! :smile: So yes, it is extremely common, and very frustrating to people who are watching their Flow frames fill and empty with no human intervention. :wink:

Absolutely, although I don’t exactly know when your nectar flow generally starts, I would imagine it is pretty soon.

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Dawn I have never gotten the kind of “make sense” answers I have gotten from you. We have a couple of clubs but they are a long drive and we rarely make it to the meetings. I cant find a mentor in our area. The point is I really appreciate you.

Sooo. To put a bow around it. Both mediums are full of honey. The brood box does not have much honey. I am going to take one medium off now and take the other medium off when the flow starts. I assume,at that point I put the flow hive directly on top of the brood box and make honey. That sound reasonable?

Do I just take the medium off and brush the bees down into the remaining medium? Yes wee are that uneducated on such things!! Just dont want to risk losing the queen so we want to do it right!!

Thanks for mentoring us from thousands of miles away!!


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Thank you for your kinds words. :blush:

Very much so. If they are chomping through the medium, you may even choose to leave it on below the Flow super. It is only that you don’t want them to leave the queen with no space to lay for the spring buildup of foragers. Also it would be good if they didn’t put syrup in the Flow super. :wink:

I don’t like brushing bees unless I really have to. My first choice would be to use a bee escape like this one:

You just put it below the uppermost box, and over 48 hours, all of the bees will move down into the remaining 2 boxes. You can then take the upper box off with minimal disturbance to the hive.

Second choice would be to take the box off, then shake the bees off each frame back into the hive. Believe it or not, this is actually gentler than brushing. @JeffH does one of the best frame shakes I have ever seen - if you watch a few of his videos, you will probably see him do it. The key is to hold the frame over the hive and do three rapid downward jerks. You will hear a brief increasing in buzzing as you do it, but it really doesn’t get them upset. With a little practice, you will be able to get 95% or more of the bees off with just 3 shakes. You can shake a bit more to get the last few off, or brush if you have to. I always try to make sure not to shake the queen, though. Although shaking is very unlikely to damage her, you don’t want her in the air or on the ground.

I hope this helps.

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Hi Dawn & thank you. I’m not normally up this time of day, it’s not even 4am yet. I’ve been giving some thought to this topic. It would take a lot of sugar syrup for the bees to store 2 medium supers of sugar syrup honey. Considering how much honey & nectar the bees use in their day by day activities, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of that honey was from outside the hive. That’s just my thoughts on the subject.

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Very good point, @JeffH, sorry the worry about it was keeping you all night! :blush:

If a 10-frame medium holds about 30lb of honey, perhaps we can say that an 8-frame medium holds about 25lb. If all of that was from syrup rather than nectar, my back of the envelope calculation would be that it would take 4 US gallons (or 16 litres) of 1:1 syrup per medium super. It makes my head spin to do the 2:1 syrup calculations, but obviously that would require a lot less syrup, but not half as much. :wink:

Hi Dawn, I went to bed early because I wanted to get an early start at the lychee farm because there is no morning shade there I wanted to get the honey off before the sun got up too high. Consequently I woke up wayyy to early. I’m home now.

Why I was thinking it would take more sugar syrup to make sugar syrup honey is because after the bees regurgitate it, they’d need to dewater it a lot further before capping it. I think that because it’s been through the bees stomach & miraculously changed from sugar syrup to sugar syrup honey, it would probably be better than just straight sugar syrup.

It would be interesting to see the viscosity of s.s. honey compared to the sugar syrup the bees turn into s.s. honey.

I think what I neglected to say above, is that if @daleknott fed less than 8 gallons of 1:1, or let’s say 5 gallons of 2:1 sugar syrup for 2 mediums, I agree with you @JeffH, a lot of it may be flower nectar honey, not sugar syrup pseudo honey. :smile:

Sorry, I didn’t sleep much last night either. IBS is a witch with a “b” sometimes… :blush:

Sorry to hear about that Dawn. Good to see you can still :smile:.

I’m seeing the best looking honey frames I’ve seen for a long time. Not at the lychee farm, but at my main site where the ducks are. Take care, bye

Thank you Jeff and Dawn. So helpful. I cant measure the moister content. I have had these mediums on for a year. Some of the honey is probably from nectar, but I am guessing the large majority of it is from sugar syrup. Since at best it is both I still want to start fresh with the flow hive once the flow starts here in a few weeks. Then I know what I have and can store these two mediums for later use.

Dawn I ordered the bee escape you recommended. I think this is a great idea and cant wait to use it!!

To clarify. Once I take the mediums with honey (no matter what kind!!) off I think you recommended I freeze them. I can do that. Then take them out and store them in a bag for safe keeping?

Once again. Many thanks!!


If you have space, I would bag them in sturdy plastic (like those large contractors trash bags from Home Depot) before freezing them for at least 48 hours. Then you can store them at room temperature. I would bag them first to stop the condensation from diluting any uncapped cells. Make sure they are well-sealed with duct tape or whatever you think will make them completely sealed. You don’t want wax moths or SHB getting in there for several months with no bees to fight them off! :blush:

Thanks Dawn!! OK. Another question. Do you re-queen your hives every year. That has been suggested by some. How do you handle re-queening?

I don’t, but my hives are in an urban location and are covered by City regulations. These require requeening every 2 years. We are not very africanized yet, although many people who do swarm removals etc in my region frequently encounter africanized bees. So I think the requirement is not unreasonable.

My understanding is that some places in Texas require annual requeening, because africanized bees are such a problem.

My method for requeening is to order a new queen from https://www.koehnen.com/queens or https://wildflowermeadows.com. The advantage of Wildflower is that they are local to me, which means the queen doesn’t have to suffer shipping. The disadvantage is that their pickup dates are very limited and sell out fast. I slightly prefer the queens from Koehnen, so if I have to go for shipping, I will order from them.

Once the queen arrives, I find the old queen and dispatch or donate her (to club members who aren’t urban) or use her for a split. I prefer to keep her alive until I know the new queen is laying well. I leave the hive queenless for 4-24 hours, so that the bees get the message. Often you can hear “panic” in the hive within 30 minutes or so - almost as if the bees are asking each other if anyone has seen the queen. They don’t usually get more aggressive, just the volume and pitch of buzzing both seem to increase. I like to leave the new queen caged and put her on the center area of the bottom board in the middle of the hive. I try to observe for a few minutes to make sure the hive isn’t aggressive towards her - no biting of the queen cage or attempt to “ball” the new queen. If they seem aggressive towards her, I leave them queenless for another day and try again. If she hasn’t been released by the bees chewing through the candy after 2 to 3 days, I release her directly onto a frame of brood. That is all there is to it. :wink:

I am really excited about the re queen project. I caught a swarm. It is small so it will be easy for me to find the queen. Given I dont know how old she is (and I have found no eggs so far) I think it wise to start fresh with a known queen. Problem is there are none available until April in our area unless I order from a company that has queens year around located in Hawaii. Probably pretty costly. We will see.

Thanks again.


Uhg!! Hi Dawn. I thought I had it all figured out then I read another thread where you recommended putting a deep UNDER the existing deep in order to get to two deeps then remove the two mediums full of honey. I dont think there is a contradiction here but want to make sure. Sooo I can put a deep under my existing brood box/deep…then remove the mediums and still be good to put my flow hive on the two deeps this spring for the flow. Rather putting the flow hive on the one deep as we had discussed. Do I have it right?

Love to learn!!


Follow up. Wouldnt the bees be spending all of their energy filling up the new deep rather than the flow hive?


Well, Dale, Texas is a BIG state… :smile: The advice that you mention was meant for people who need to use 2 deeps for their hives (I think that was specifically for a hive in NorCal). In southern California, most of us hobby beekeepers use 2 deeps. Commercial beekeepers use one deep, but they manage their bees very differently on the whole. Subtropical climates - like the area where the Flow hive was developed, may only use one brood box. I know that @JeffH uses just one brood box. The advantage is that it simplifies inspections tremendously. The disadvantage is that if you have a nectar dearth, you have to monitor closely and consider feeding sooner rather than later.

If most of your locals use 2 deeps, I would too. If they don’t, then don’t do it. I add deeps underneath because it causes less disruption to the queen’s laying pattern. But I only do it when I am adding a second deep for the first time on a particular hive. Once it is established, I add honey supers on top.

If your area recommends 2 deeps, but you only have one and 2 mediums, then you have 2 choices. The first is to continue with what you did last year - you successfully overwintered a colony, and that counts for a lot. :blush: I would still make sure they have space in the brood box for the spring buildup, it can be amazing how fast they fill it. The second choice is to put a second deep below your existing brood box, remove one medium and wait for them to use the bottom deep. They will need a lot of that syrup to draw out the lower deep.

If I was in your situation, I would stay with one box and 2 mediums. You know how to make that work. Unless there is a good reason to change it, I wouldn’t.

You should never add an empty box unless all other boxes are very full. So if you have a full brood box, then a new brood box below, you should not add the Flow super until both of the lower boxes are 80% full of brood, pollen or honey, with all of the comb fully drawn. If you do add too early, the bees will not use it, and they may have trouble defending it from pests and robbers. Absolutely, they will put energy into filling up the new deep. If you want a harvest, that will be a problem. But if they need the stores to survive the winter later, that can be a problem too. That is why beekeeping is an art. :grin: