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Continue building brood or go for honey?

4156 Views 18 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  ladwigbees
I'm a new beekeeper. I have two hives of Italians that i just started last weekend. I can't believe all the work they've done already!

I'm wondering if once they build up the brood should I had another box for more brood or put in my queen excluder and start making honey?

I don't need to harvest a lot of honey this year, that not important. I'm just new and want to know what the benefits of building the brood are. Should I try using an excluder on just one hive?

Just looking for thoughts? Ideas and information.

thanks in advance!


here is a link to some picture of my hives(i'm a photographer)
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I'm pretty new also but I've had awesome success from my bees. I waited till my first 10 Frame deep box was 80% full then I added another deep box. The first year they filled both boxes. I removed one frame of honey for myself and left the rest for them. I live in southern Louisiana so my winters are mild but I left them two boxes anyway. My hive is three years old now and I think it's 5 boxes high. Only the bottom two boxes have brood the rest is honey. I've harvested 30 lbs so far this year and have two deep boxes left. I'm no pro for sure but my bees health for me was more important than honey the first year. Also my hive is treatment free except for oil under my screened bottom board.
THanks for the info! So you put your excluder in after you were 80% full the first year?

What oil do you have under your bottom board?

Add another brood box as suggested above. I NEVER use a queen excluded.
When you say just started- Do you mean package bees? Remember beekeeping is local. There is a pretty big climate difference between WI and the deep south. If that is the case- your bees have a ways to go. Package bees in a cold climate will need likely need 2 deeps to overwinter. My goal is developing a strong healthy hive 1st. I would not worry about honey until the 2nd deep is almost full with brood and honey. Remember the 2 deeps belong to the bees they need the honey to survive. If your new- really consider some formal beekeeping education. See if there are beekeeping clubs or associations around. These folks can give you good local advice about keeping bees alive in your area.
I've never used an excluder. My screened bottom board has a removable pan that I fill with oil so when my bees kick the beetles or larve out they go into the oil and die. I use it a few weeks during summer and all winter. Today I removed it completely because in a month only four beetles and a few larve were in the oil. I know most on here say you have to work your bees but I only open the top and if they need room I add a box or harvest some frames. Other than that I let them do what they do best. Right now I'm trying to figure out the best way to filter honey and also going to try no foundation in my top box and see what happens. Good luck and if you want your bees to be healthy make sure they have plenty to eat especially in winter if you don't want to sugar feed them(which I've never done) leave them plenty of their honey.
Also having more brood means more bees and eventually more bees means better hive health and more honey. My bottom two boxes are almost all brood
Yeah MTN Bees, they are package bees and I am going for hive health and not worried about harvesting honey, as I said earlier. This is why I posted. to get some p.o.v. Thanks for your time, I am aware of my geographical location in relation to Louisiana. I'm working with my cousin who keeps bees near me and reading a lot . I just ordered one of Michael Bush's books and can't wait to read it.

Does anyone with long/hard winters use any type of added insulation to overwinter?

I'm in year two with bees, so certainly not a pro yet. The general thought around here (similar to your climate) is to overwinter with two deeps. one of my 6 last year was weak and wintered in one deep and they did okay, but they did consume about 20# of a candy board over the winter. I have not harvested honey from any of my hives yet, and might not this year as I plan to expand to 20 hives. Some of the old timers here use queen excluders to keep the queen out of teh supers, but it seems that most folks do not use them. I have a few QEs, but plan to use them only for isolation during queen rearing.

Not only is beekeeping local, but a lot of it depends on your end goal, and your managmenet opinions. right or wrong, i plan to use 2 deeps as my brood chanmber and anything above that as honey supers.
I am just coming up to my first bee keeping anniversary.
Last year I gave them 2 deeps and then a dadant super. Some put honey in the super, some left it empty and undrawn.

My question is ..if you keep giving more boxes to bees what determines if they fill the new (top) ones with brood or honey?
thanks KPeakcock and thanks WBVC, I have that same question…what determines if they fill the newest super with brood or honey? a vote ? :)
Trust the bees- they know how to build their home.
I would let the bees use all of their boxes for any purupose they want this first year. You don't want to do anything that discourages them from building the architecture of their new home.

(I am just emerging from my first winter, with all my hives from last year doing well. So I don't have years of experience, just a year's experience in a very cold climate. So take this advice with that in mind.)

I don't use queen excluders, except as the floors underneath any box I move as a unit and set aside on a spare bottom while delving down below. The queen excluder gives me my peace of mind that if the queen is in the box I moved off the hive, there's no chance she could getout when the box when it was off the stack.

If you do use QE, I would write on your calendar, now, a reminder that by, say early October, they need to OFF the hive and safely stowed in storage at that point. Because in the hubbub of the fall there is a risk you might forget it and then the queen couldn't get up into the upper boxes to the stored honey and may starve to death during the winter. And if you don't plan on taking any honey, there's no reason to have one on this season anyway.

As to your question about insulating and wrapping. I'm in northern NY, and yes, I added quilt boxes, and insulated my hives and wrapped them. You don't need to think about that now, but start to plan for it by late summer. (Though it's not installed until late fall.)

Have fun in your first year, but plan on leaving the girls all the honey they can accumulate this year. They're going to need it, and then you will have the keen pleasure of seeing them well-fed, safely-wintered and ready to really take off this time next year.

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In your climate you will definitely need two deeps to overwinter if next year is anything like this past winter.

Add another deep when they have the first one pretty much full of bees, brood, and stores, not just drawn but empty comb. Check the weight regularly by tilting the hive forward with the handhold in the back of the bottom box (this is easier on a hive stand than with the hive near the ground). You want the hive so heavy you cannot lift it with one hand by October.

If they fill out a second box and the hive is bursting with bees by July, go ahead and add a honey super, you might get some fall honey. More likely you will need to feed them in September to get them up to weight, I didn't my first year and lost my hive in the spring as a result. Expensive lesson.

more bees = more honey
if they can build out 2 brood boxes...let them. remember....its NOT up to YOU when they 'go for honey". its up to them and when nectar is available. if u decide to put a queen excluder on and there isnt a flow, its possible to crowd them. either the queen will shut down or they will go in to swarm mode. let them do what they need.

i have to ask....why are u going to use a queen excluder ?
thanks ps fred & tommy.

I was going to use a QE but after hearing from everyone and some more research I will not be using one. Thanks for everything, I'm loving this forum!
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