Re: END of July-(3)-8-frameMED full should I add another box
I'm a bit north of you by about 45 miles. That said, that 45 miles can make a huge difference. I work in southern MD, about 60 miles away, and things bloom there 10-14 days earlier than here at home.
I've been told three 8 frame mediums are equivalent to two deeps, and that is the minimum needed to get them through the winters here if packed full of stores.
My hives were started in April and had those three boxes drawn and filled by May, and I threw on honey supers, which they filled in June. Nothing else has happened since, because the dearth started here around the end of June. I know many MD/noVA beeks harvest around July 4. I took some from the 5th and 6th boxes in early July, but my bees were slow to cap, so that minimized how much I could take off then.
We are in a dearth here now, and feeding now with honey supers on would just go to stores and possibly contaminate any uncapped honey already there. So you have to decide what you want to do about that. The other consideration is what they need to eat while in the dearth...they apparently can eat all the stores now and not have any later. Feeding is something that needs to be done with thought and planning, not just because, kwim.
I don't know about your area, but MD seems to have a fast and short flow...starts in April and is usually over by June 1. The fall flow is minimal to nonexistent. So I'm watching to make sure they have enough to carry through, see how the fall goes and then button up for winter.
My newest nuc is crazy busy with orientation flights every night. The two big monster hives aren't...I have wondered if that is due to the older queens slowing down during the dearth, so there aren't as many new bees needing to orient. I stopped worrying about it, as they all seem to be queen right, have plenty of food, etc.
I do a mite check every 3 weeks...so far clean...but I've seen a handful of SHB trapped on the inner covers of my big hives, none in the small. I hate those things. They appeared in the last 2 weeks. I'd kill every one of them I see if I could.
made it to the second year with three hives, zone 6b