I started 2 hives from packagesx, and I split each one.
My strongest hive has now pretty well filled 2 brood boxes. One other hive is not far behind. I had assumed that the next step would be a honey super, but should it be? How does one decide?
Due to remarkably wet conditions, there is sweet clover blooming in every ditch and vacant lot. The bees are still happily making wax and honey. There is usually a fall honey flow as well, though it is often too odd-tastng for humans. It is usually left for the bees.
Usually in Kansas bees are wintered over in 2 brood boxes, but earlier in this site having hives with 3 brood boxes was mentioned. There is usually a fall honey flow as well on goldenrod and asters, though it is usually to odd-tasting for humans.
Do you think that adding a third brood box would be wise, ot is it time to put on a queen excluder and go for a bit of honey?
It's your call. I hate lifing a full deep, so I'd probably go for the super. With all mediums (which is what I do) and no chemicals I just don't use an excluder and so there really isn't a division between the brood and the honey. But an unlimited brood nest is generally considered three brood boxes. Most people on your part of the country just run two.
The first year, I think I would stick to 2 boxes, then next year you might increase to 3 brood chambers for an Unlimited Brood Nest. Giving them too much too soon might prevent them from being able to fill it well enough before winter. Next year though your bees will have an early start and you should be able to easily fill 3 brood boxes with brood and honey and still have supers on it for harvesting. Having the honey surrounding the brood in 3 brood boxes is supposed to help a lot with overwintering since thebees will always have honey within the winter cluster, and becuse the honey will provide some insulation and heat storage where the cluster is hanging.
Scot Mc Pherson
Foundationless Small Cell Top Bar Hives
I used 3 deeps for the first time this winter in 6 colonies. Being new to beekeeping (just a few years), I was a bit skeptical. Going into winter there was a deep+ worth of honey and solid bees. At springtime, the bees still had plenty of food and were bubbling over. A friend had a 2-deep hive right next to mine and they ended the winter with no food and a very small cluster. There were plenty of bees to make splits early on and are pretty much all back to strength in time for the flow now. While one data point is not much trend analysis, I'm certainly very pleased with the results and intend to continue going with 3 deeps. I had the same question as you about whether I should super the 2 deeps and wait to add a third for the fall flow or fill the 3rd deep now. I've decided to do some of my colonies one way and some the other way. Any inputs from others would be great! Thanks. PS. This is my first time into the website and first post. Thank you to moderators for making this tool available.
In Eastern Kansas you shouldn't need three deeps. If you ensure the two deeps are full of bees and honey (or fed corn syrup) in the fall, then with either two or three you will have good success.
The key is to be very heavy by october, provide adequate ventilation while protecting from cold wind blasts. Treat for mites in the fall so that they go into winter mite free---or nearly so.
There are so many things that make a big difference on winter survival/hive strength come spring, however, I don't think using either two or three brood chambers is big factor.