Timing of New Hive and Adding Medium Brood Boxes [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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05-22-2017, 06:37 PM
My question is, When I first get my bees, how long will it take for them to fill up 80% of a medium brood box?

I am a newbee and I will be picking up my bees and installing them on June 24th this summer (this can't be changed). I will be using all medium boxes. Unfortunately, I will be leaving for a trip on June 26th and will be gone for 10 days. My concern is that they will fill up the first box quickly and will be too crowded by the time I get back on July 5th. Should I start off with two medium boxes when I install the nuc? I really don't want to put my bees in the hands of someone else, but will I need to rely on someone else to add a box before I get back? Also, will the sugar water need to be refilled within this time frame? I live in St. Charles, MO where it can get pretty hot and humid.

Thanks for answering my questions...I've been pondering this for awhile and forgot to ask it at the my bee meeting :)

05-23-2017, 05:26 AM
Depending on the size of the feeder, yes, you will almost certainly have to refill a few times in the first 10 days.

If you were planning on using one of those Boardman-style front feeders I would not use that when you are not there to monitor and remove it should it excite robbing. (I wouldn't use one of those anyway because of robbing, but without monitoring you are just begging for serious problems.)

Is this a package or a nuc? If it is a package then you may not be able verify that the queen is released safely before you leave. You could return and find the queen dead and the colony in disarray.

If it is a nuc, then I would give them more space as some nucs swarm very quickly.

I know you said you can't change to delivery date, but one of the realities of bees is that they need what they need, when they need it. So if you can't change the date of the delivery, you might consider changing your trip.

Or getting someone else to take care of your bees while you are away. And that person should have some experience with bees (at least enough to recognize and deal with the range of early installation problems that might crop up).

What you have described sounds like it has a high risk for failure. I wish I could give you more encouragement, but this is a bad plan, IMO.

Notwithstanding that, I hope you can work something out and have lots of fun and success with your bees.


05-23-2017, 09:49 AM
What's your nuc that you are purchasing? A nuc is generally a 5 frame deep, but if you are using mediums, are they mediums and how many frames? If it's a 5 frame medium, it's a fairly small colony to start with. If that's it, the colony will be smaller and not build so fast at first. If you are doing 8 frame mediums, 3 frames will give them enough to do.

It is a bit risky to install and be gone for 10 days like you plan, but having several new frames to draw out and fill, 10 days shouldn't be a problem with filling up to swarm. Your biggest concerns should be, what if something else goes wrong? I would have a robber screen on it to help prevent robbing, though you should still have a flow going to help that. I would do no feeding, even when you install them. Make sure they have a frame of food and they'll not need feeding. If it's a genuine nuc, a colony that has already been productive together, with a laying queen that hasn't just been put in, then that would be a big help.

05-23-2017, 11:20 AM
I will be receiving 5 medium frames in my nuc. I think the colony will be already established with a laying queen.

05-23-2017, 10:27 PM
If it's a nuc, then it will have a laying queen (that's the whole point of a nuc!)

But five medium frames is a very small colony, about equivalent to three deep frames. A colony that small will be vulnerable to robbing, particularly if it is being fed. Make sure its entrance is quite reduced, and I would only leave it alone if it had a good robbing screen on it.

Your question was about adding a second box, if you are using 8-frame equipment, then yes, I would give them another box before you leave. It's a bit optimistic, but they may need it and it's pretty warm now so the extra space won't be a heat suck. And it will only be foundation so not attractive to small hive beetles.

Good luck and bon voyage!


05-24-2017, 06:17 AM
Moving 5 frames into an 8 or 10 frame box isn't going to swarm in 10 days, unless they already were in swarm prep and weren't discouraged from that in the expanded box. Make sure there's already food in the hive, in frames, don't feed till you get back, robber screen or small entrance, check them in ten days. They are a functioning colony so they should have stores, and should be foraging, so they can take care of themselves. You should have some nectar flow there in St. Charles going on. When you install them, you should leave them be for a week anyway, so you only have 3 more days from that.