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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've recently read an article that suggested it's ok to add 2-3 empty supers at once. My previous understanding is that they'd have the tendency to build up and not out, so adding more than one at a time might not be the best... that the bees wouldn't eventually fill out the external frames....?

Currently I've stretched my 50 frames of drawn comb into 10 10-frame supers so that I have 5 frames of drawn comb, and 5 frames of foundation in each super. I've got the foundation in the center and the drawn combs to the outside (3 on one side, 2 on the other).

So... as I'm an hour from my hives, I'd love to feel safe adding 2-3 supers.... am I?

Thanks for any insight.
 

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I add more than one super when a heavy flow is on and they're filling any and all space as fast as they can. I don't do it when it's just convenient. Only when I'm pretty sure that in the week between visits, they could....and will....store nectar in at least one, dry super. In a heavy flow, a healthy colony can fill comb amazingly fast. It's incredible to see sometimes.
 

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Currently I've stretched my 50 frames of drawn comb into 10 10-frame supers so that I have 5 frames of drawn comb, and 5 frames of foundation in each super. I've got the foundation in the center and the drawn combs to the outside (3 on one side, 2 on the other).

Thanks for any insight.
I suggest alternating between drawn out frames and foundation. They seem to draw the comb extra deep if the comb next to it doesn't stop them. Sometimes to the point that is sticks out so far you have to pull both frames just to get it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I suggest alternating between drawn out frames and foundation. They seem to draw the comb extra deep if the comb next to it doesn't stop them. Sometimes to the point that is sticks out so far you have to pull both frames just to get it out.
Makes sense, thanks. Do you get winter in NW Florida? How many harvests will you have a year?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I add more than one super when a heavy flow is on and they're filling any and all space as fast as they can.
Any tips on predicting the heavy flow? Seems like everything down here is blooming or about to... I've been late before and since I'm about an hour from my hives I'd like to be a little early than a little late.
 

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>I suggest alternating between drawn out frames and foundation. They seem to draw the comb extra deep if the comb next to it doesn't stop them. Sometimes to the point that is sticks out so far you have to pull both frames just to get it out.

That's why you DON'T alternate them. They will draw out the drawn until it almost touches the foundation and they will ignore the foundation. The only way to get them out without a total disaster is to take the box off, flip it upside down and remove the box from the frames...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
>That's why you DON'T alternate them. They will draw out the drawn until it almost touches the foundation and they will ignore the foundation. The only way to get them out without a total disaster is to take the box off, flip it upside down and remove the box from the frames...
Thanks Michael, that actually brings back some bad memories when I've had that happen... Do you have any thoughts on adding more supers at the same time? Even if I just let them put whatever they want for now (to build out) and then queen excluder later...?
 

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Two important aspects of beekeeping are space management and timing. This question is a combination of both. If there is a flow starting, odds are you can add a lot of boxes with no issues and it may prevent issues with running out of space. If a flow isn't starting, you may stretch the bees pretty thin trying to guard those combs. So it's a question of timing in relation to space.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So it's a question of timing in relation to space.
Any tips on what to look for as indicator about the flow timing? We've had a very mild winter here and so much is already blooming.
I'm leaning towards just adding one super to each of the nearly-full hives for now, and check back each week...
 

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I'm not necessarily talking about the MAIN flow, a flow that has bees busy and some white wax is a pretty good indicator you could add supers.

In the long run since one of the most important things in beekeeping is timing. If you can predict things you can be proactive in your beekeeping and you can set goals for important events during the season such as likely swarming, the main flow, etc. How do you do this? You keep notes. Not so much on each hive as on the season. From year to year chart the blooms of trees especially but also things like dandelions and clover etc. Also events in the apiary such as swarming and the main flow. The main flow you can identify by new white wax, a steady stream of purposeful flight, and a rapid gain in weight. Also sort out blooms you identified in town and blooms you identified in the countryside. The difference, at least in my location will be two weeks earlier in the city. If you do this from year to year you will see some things are good indicators of the start of the season (in my location the wild plums) and some are not (in my location the read maples). For instance, if the wild plums are blooming two weeks early, then I know the flow will be at least a week early. You will find things sometimes catch up as the main flow approaches. In other words, the plums might be two weeks early but the black locust might be only a week and a half early and the main flow may be only a week early. Once you can predict things with reasonable accuracy you can make better decisions. For instance your goal is to peak the population of the colony right at the main flow. If you want to do a cut down split to maximize honey production while getting more bees, that would be two weeks before the main flow. If you can predict things you can make better decisions on splits. For instance if your colony seems to be peaking (you'll get a feel for about the maximum size before they decide to swarm in the pre flow period) several weeks before the main flow there may not be any point in trying to prevent it from swarming before the main flow and you might just split. But if the main flow is only a week away, maybe you can stall them that long by opening the brood nest. Knowing when to expect the flow can help you make batter decisions. Decisions like when to plan on putting on supers or do swarm control etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I'm not necessarily talking about the MAIN flow, a flow that has bees busy and some white wax is a pretty good indicator....
Thanks for the detail. We've been keeping notes on the bees, but not the season... good idea! Being an hour + from my hives makes me more concerned about timing, and making a wrong decision that will affect production.

I did notice quite of bit of white wax last Saturday, and last year's flow started around the 3rd week of April. We have our monthly beek meeting this Thursday and I'll be sure to tap some of our 20+ year beeks for local season detail.

It really is exciting this time of year... :)

also... can't thank you enough for your site. I reference often and print many... and I've just subscribed to your YouTube channel...
 

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>I suggest alternating between drawn out frames and foundation. They seem to draw the comb extra deep if the comb next to it doesn't stop them. Sometimes to the point that is sticks out so far you have to pull both frames just to get it out.

That's why you DON'T alternate them. They will draw out the drawn until it almost touches the foundation and they will ignore the foundation. The only way to get them out without a total disaster is to take the box off, flip it upside down and remove the box from the frames...
Thank you for the catch. I meant comb, not foundation.

We are doing well. Swarms start in February here on the upper Gulf Coast, although I seem to be in a micro-climate that differs slightly from the north end of the county. I'm having trouble keeping up with the growth due to a shortage of comb. They are already capping honey. We got a full dearth last summer and I was so busy splitting that a lot of the honey was used up by the bees. I'm working on learning to graft well and select for bees that can handle going treatment free. We brought in three feral hives last year to help with genetics. I went into winter with 7 hives and came out with 6. One had a weak queen going into the winter and she failed by spring. Weather this coming week looks good. 60s & 70s.
 
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