When to add a super, new package
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Rockwall, Texas, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default When to add a super, new package

    I received my package April 1 this year. On Saturday it will be 10 days. I have 8 frame Mediums. Ive heard a few different approaches to adding another super (currently they are in 1 super).

    1) when should I add it? I'm thinking in about 21 days after the queen was released (on about day 4 after I received the package) since thats when new worker bees should be emerging and frankly the hive looks full of bees just from the original package.

    I've also seen advice to add a super once about 3/4 of the frames are full (of brood, pollen, and honey). Thoughts?

    2) How should I add it? Im thinking about adding it below the current super they are in-heat rises, yea? Should I pull any outside drawn frames and put them in the new super?

    Thanks in advance! Kevin

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    183

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    I would add when 5 or 6 frames are drawn comb, not full of brood; try to stay ahead of the bees, giving them work to do. Keep them drawing wax while they are in that spring build up mode and while you are feeding them (+/-). Put it on top of the current box, in the "2" position.
    Regards,
    KGB-8Fmed

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Gladys, VA
    Posts
    97

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    Since I use the 10 frame deeps I wait until 7 - 8 frames are drawn out before adding a super. So for a 8 frame deep I would wait until 5 - 6 frames are drawn out.
    ----
    Joe

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    I wouldn't go by the number of days. I think it's more important to go by how many frames are drawn.

    Are they currently in a single medium box that is being used as their brood chamber? ("Supers" are technically the boxes above the brood chamber that are being used for honey storage. In practice any size box can be either brood nest or "super", and unless you have queen excluders installed the bees will see it that way, too.)

    Anyway, if they are in a single medium box, then watch them closely and don't them get too crowded. Add another based on when they've drawn enough new comb (5, or 6 max) in the first box. You could bait them upwards in the new box by moving a drawn frame or two to the center of the new box and replacing those moved frames in the lower box with undrawn ones. In practice, my bees seldom fully complete one frame before they start on the next one so there are often partially drawn frames to work with. I wouldn't break up the brood nest center, just select one of the outer drawn frames to move up, slide the closest frames inward in the first box and insert the new undrawn frames on the outside.

    The pace of building out depends on the temps, the available nectar (or supp. feed) and the individual temperament of the colony. You're just along for the ride, so watch them, and not a calendar to see how fast they go and when they will need more space.

    Enj.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Greenvile, SC
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    As a new beekeeper, I struggle with the statement, "watch them closely". I was also told not to open the hives too much or they will abscond. I have tried to be patient and I waited about two weeks after I took out the empty queen cage and it looked as if they had drawn about 3-4 frames (out of 10). Should I wait another 2 to 3 weeks? This doesn't seem right, as I imagine with Spring cranking up, things are not linear. For me, the question seems to be, how often can I "check in", without pestering them?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
    Posts
    2,868

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    I agree with Enjambres. Add supers according to progress, not time. And progress is indeed non-linear. As population increases, so does progress. IMO, a new beekeeper should check every week or 10 days to get a handle on what's happening.
    Buy the ticket, take the ride. -H.S. Thompson

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    3,796

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    Quote Originally Posted by quattro View Post
    As a new beekeeper, I struggle with the statement, "watch them closely". I was also told not to open the hives too much or they will abscond. I have tried to be patient and I waited about two weeks after I took out the empty queen cage and it looked as if they had drawn about 3-4 frames (out of 10). Should I wait another 2 to 3 weeks? This doesn't seem right, as I imagine with Spring cranking up, things are not linear. For me, the question seems to be, how often can I "check in", without pestering them?
    I think you were given advice that does not apply to your situation. Your first beekeeping year is much about your learning. You can't do that is you don't go in the hive. Yes, each visit sets the bees back some. But checking on them once a week isn't going to set them back all that much. You are not located in my part of the world and I imagine bees do things differently. Up here, I would be extremely surprised if you need to add a 2nd deep until 6 weeks from installation had passed. This is on foundation; comb will be quicker.

    One thing to note, you can tell how many frames they are on and have drawn without doing an invasive inspection. just open the top, remove the inner cover and look. After you had a good look, replace the inner and outer covers. Once you've had some practice such an inspection can be done in 4-5 seconds. When your just starting out I'd imagine you'd have the covers off for a minute or two. Be quick, but act calm and deliberate.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Santa barbara, CA
    Posts
    779

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    I have a home made clear inner cover that helps me tell how crowded my hives are and with a flashlight I can look between the top frames to see how full the comb is. Bees don't seem to mind at all.
    http://www.betterbee.com/wooden-hive...ment/cic10.asp
    If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
    Abraham Maslow

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Ellendale, Minnesota, usa
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    Last year was my first year- the first month or so I was checking them every week or every other week- in the middle of the summer I checked them about every 3 weeks and then in the fall since I was feeding I was back to every week.

    I think it is ok to check on them and it is great if you can be patient- I am not I needed to know, this winter tried to kill me as I waited for a good day to check on them! As for adding boxes I thought it was when they were 3/4 full.

    Good luck

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    @Quattro,

    You are correct that spring is non-linear, so, if the days are warm and settled (as well they ought to be in SC, as opposed to up here in frigid -and sleeting today - NY) and there is a lot of nectar and pollen coming in, I would check again in 5 to 7 days. If you are feeding in the hive (unless you are using a top feeder) you can see all you need when you deliver fresh syrup.

    If they are in a single box, just lift the lid and inner cover and and look downwards. It's easy to see how many frames are being worked on because you can see between the frames. Have a flashlight at hand if necessary to peer down. This is just a simple check on their progress in drawing as opposed to pulling out frames to see what they are actually doing with the combs they've drawn.

    Depending on your bees, and the confidence you have in working with them, this needn't be an all-out, smoke their brains out, disrupt their whole day kind of thing.

    Most of the time I wouldn't even begin by using any smoke for just a quick look at their progress, but my girls are used to my inquisitiveness and I go to great pains to avoid riling them.

    How can you tell if you've been "pestering" them? Well, they'll be more reactive and crabby next time you visit, never mind the next time you've got a manipulation planned. I also try not to make every time I go to the hives be one of great fuss and trauma. This is easy for me as my hives are on the farm where I live. I visit them at least twice a day, and oftener if I can find the time.

    What do I do there? I talk and sing to them, I fuss around their boxes, do a little housekeeping, fill their water bowls, see if I can entice a few to land on my bare hand and explore my skin, I look at them with a magnifying lens, I check their varroa boards, adjust their entrance reducers, weigh my hives to see how the flow is coming along. I sit against the hive so I can feel the hum against my backbone, I chill with my bees to see if I can get a sense of the day's hive mind. I sit on the ground so I can look out from the level of the bottom board (mine are on raised platforms). I take deep sniffs of whatever scents are coming out of the hives.

    I certainly didn't do this when I first started out. I was as intimidated by my bees as any newbie usually is. And clumsy, awkward, indecisive, confused, fearful, and desperate to do things "right." I made way more than my share of completely stupid mistakes (I made so many dumb moves that remains a persistent shortage of newbie-mistakes carried over from my first year, so there are fewer left for you to make.) Still, I kept trying and gradually things got a little better and I felt more comfortable with the bees. But truly, until the first winter came and I wanted to rescue bees which had fallen into snow and become cold-stunned (which can only be done on-the-spot with the bees cupped in your bare hand, often with your hand tucked inside your mitten or coat) I didn't have any comfort in handling them. Once I started to be able to handle them, my relationship to them changed and I felt more relaxed, and better yet, actually became relaxed in how I worked them. When you have felt a "dead" bee come back to life in your hand, when you have literally used your warm breath to breathe life back into her, it's a whole other way of seeing them.

    You'll learn what to do with your bees more efficiently, if you just do it. If your sense is that the bees are busy and may need more space, then do a simple check to see if that is true. Whether they're ready for more space, or not, you have learned something about observing them. Bees are quite resilient, and mine at least, are patient and very tolerant.

    Enj.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Greenvile, SC
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    Enj- you captured the emotions perfectly. Thanks to everyone for the advice!

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Rockwall, Texas, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    Thanks Enjambres (and others)- I just realized you asked me a question in your response...So yes, they are in a single medium being used as their brood chamber. Based on the responses my plan is to add a super once 5-6 frames are drawn, then once 5-6 frames are drawn on the super Ill add an excluder and a honey super...Thanks again for your time.
    Last edited by kan9; 04-09-2015 at 10:12 PM.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Wichita, Kansas, USA
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    70 percent rule. If using 10 frame, then when 7 frames are drawn, add a second box. Take one of the drawn outside frames and put it in the center of the top box. Place an empty frame in it's place in the bottom box. With 8 frame boxes, 70 percent is 5 frames drawn. If using deeps, then 2 deeps for brood. If using mediums, then 3 for brood.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Mt Juliet TN USA
    Posts
    319

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    Quote Originally Posted by kan9 View Post
    Thanks Enjambres (and others)- I just realized you asked me a question in your response...So yes, they are in a single medium being used as their brood chamber. Based on the responses my plan is to add a super once 5-6 frames are drawn, then once 5-6 frames are drawn on the super Ill add an excluder and a honey super...Thanks again for your time.
    Two 8 frame mediums is an awful small brood area for a growing hive. Better put you a swarm box in a tree near by.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Wichita, Kansas, USA
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: When to add a super, new package

    Agree Sterling! 3 mediums for brood boxes. Then honey supers above that.

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