New beek here, located on east coast of Florida. Back in February I was gifted two hives from a neighbor. Established colonies with two medium brood boxes each (8 frame Langstroth). Good on all wellness checks (mood, brood & food), with lots of bees.
In early March i added a medium honey super to each, above a plastic excluder. Most recent inspection (April 4) revealed little activity in the honey supers. Few bees up there, no real progress on drawing any comb on waxed foundations, etc. Supers and frames (with waxed Plastic foundations) were all new.
So, just curious ... shouldn’t there be more activity in the honey supers?
I'm guessing the honey supers contain foundation. They will probably swarm before going up. I'd pull the excludes and put them over the the inner cover for now to just store them. Then pull 2 frames of brood up in to the honey supers, in the center of box. No excluder for now. Put the foundations in the broodnest to get drawn out. You now have baited the supers. Bees will move up for brood. Once the box is half drawn out. Shake all the bees outta the super back into the bottom boxes to make sure the queen is downstairs. Put the excluder back on, with super above it. Now your bees have a reason to go threw the excluder. All the brood will hatch out and be replaced with honey. Next year you can use the drawn combs in each honey super 2 per super to get the bees working them. Remember if they won't move up bring brood up and it will pull them up like a magnet.
Is your neighbor an experienced beekeeper, or a newbie that gave it up? If experienced, and successful, I would ask them for advice. I do not know your climate and flow, but two 8 frame mediums is not really a large work force. I would focus on making bees instead of honey. To do this, I would take the excluder off. Move a frame of brood from each brood chamber. Push the frames together to eliminate the empty space. Take 2 frames of foundation and place next to, not in the brood nest. Place the two frames of brood in the middle of the third super. I would also consider feeding them sugar water, but if there is a steady flow on, they may not take it. Wouldn't hurt to make a small batch and put in a zip lock baggie with some large pinholes in the bags and place on top bars right above the 2 frames of brood. The hope is that the bees will move up to feed and cover the brood and hopefully take the hint that they should draw comb. Once they do, the queen will come. Also, if you didn't, it helps to coat the plastic foundation with additional wax. There are lots of threads on how to do that. You could also take undrawn foundation and place them on the other side of the brood nest and place drawn ones next to the brood you moved up to the third box. Good luck. J
Last edited by Fivej; 04-06-2020 at 07:31 AM.
What you are describing is a recipe for swarming! The bees do not recognize the foundation above the excluder as having anything to do with them. I always move a frame of wet brood that I have shaken the bees off above the excluder and moving down the frame of foundation. The nurse bees will move up to care for the brood. The colony will start trying to fix their odd shaped brood nest and build the foundation surrounding the brood frame. After that has happened, you can move the brood frame back down and the bees will continue working above the excluder in the super.