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I'm a new beekeeper this year. I bought a hive with two deep brood chambers, painted it and set it up. Bought 3 books and read them through. Spent alot of time at sites like this learning. Here's a question I can't find the answer to.

I installed a 3lb package of bees last week similar to this method. The queen cage went into the center of the bottom brood box, then I set the second box on top with 4 frames missing from the center. I dumped the bees through the top box and onto the top rails of the bottom box and then replaced the missing frames on top. Added a top-hive feeder and closed it up.

Now I'm thinking that I should have left the second box off so that the bees could concentrate on building out a single brood chamber. When I check on the queen this weekend, should I take the opportunity to remove the top box? Or just don't worry about it?

I'm in New England and will need two brood boxes eventually anyway. So I figured it couldn't hurt to start with them already in place. But the more I learn, the more it appears that I should let them build up before adding more space.

Thanks so much for any guidance you folks can provide. I'm sure I'll be making many more mistakes. To be honest, I'd have it no other way! :)
 

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I am new this year also but feel confident in saying that everything I have been told say's to wait until the first box is 70 to 80% drawn. That's 7-8 frames. Then add the second box. I have also been told when adding the second box, move 1 frame up from the first box to entice them up faster.
 

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I am new this year also but feel confident in saying that everything I have been told say's to wait until the first box is 70 to 80% drawn. That's 7-8 frames. Then add the second box. I have also been told when adding the second box, move 1 frame up from the first box to entice them up faster.
Yah. That's what I'm learning too. The question is, now that it's on there, is it OK to remove? Now that I think about it, I'm assuming that they started to build in there. Otherwise, if it's empty, I guess I didn't even need to post the question. I just want to get my head on straight before I open the hive.

Holly said:
How long has the second box been on?
A week. It's a brandy new hive. I'm not sure where they decide to start building initially. I just assumed (for no good reason) that they'd build from the bottom up because the queen was installed in the bottom. :D

Thanks folks. Man, this is an active board. Fast responses!
 

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did you go back in after 4 days to check to make sure the queen was released? If not, you need to check to make sure she has been released. I'm new this year as well, but I'd say you could probably open it up and take a look. See where they are building and possibly combine drawn frames from top and bottom if needed to fill out the bottom box.
 

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Unless they set up house between the two boxes (which is highly unlikely, but bees will be bees), just take the empty box off.

On the other hand when I first started keeping bees (this was a long time ago, so I might be mistaken - 1986), I think that I did what you did and the bees were just fine. That box will probably just be in the way, but if you don't mind, I suspect your bees will be fine at this time of year with either configuration.
 

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Squirrel, when you inspect this weekend...
Take the top box off and make sure the queen has been released. Assuming she has, remove the queen cage.

What you want is to have one deep brood box with a full number of frames for that box, with all frames pushed tightly together in the middle and any spaces left on both ends.

If any bees have been working in the top box frames, you can take those frames and put them in the bottom box and remove any unworked frames from the bottom box. In other words, have one deep box and put all the frames in it that the bees have been working on. Remove the second box with unworked frames in it for now. Make sure the busiest frames are centered in the middle of your brood box for now. In a few weeks you can start to rotate lesser used frames towards the middle more so that the bees will drawn comb on them. But right now you want to give the bees a nice busy brood cluster in the middle of the single box.

Move gently and slowly and learn about not taking busy middle frames in and out without first getting some space between them by removing an outer frame- this is so you won't hurt the queen.

If you are using ten frame equipment, keep the frames the bees have been working on, and leave your hive with 10 frames carefully pushed together, with the busiest frames in the middle, presumably with the queen on one of them. Any extra space is divided on both ends next to the box sides- it's usually about 1/2" space on each end left over. Be extra careful with the frames that bees are heavily clustered on- the queen is likely on there somewhere.
If the frames are not pushed together, bees will build connecting comb between them and also in any random spaces you leave them....then you have a dilemma on your hands and a mess to fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Got it. Thanks for so much detail.

Move gently and slowly and learn about not taking busy middle frames in and out without first getting some space between them
You ain't kidding. I don't have any protective gear other than a hat and veil so during installation I was moving in slow motion (I had to replace those 4 missing frames into a space I had filled with bees). Serious adrenaline rush... it was very intense for me. I'm a bit less worried about the queen and more so about me! :D

Anyway, I'll be super careful and post the results for future newbies to learn from.
 

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I have worked my bees for 2 months now with just a veil, long sleeved shirt and latex gloves. I have been stung 4 times only once wasn't my fault!:D
 

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Just move the frames they are working on in the top box down to the bottom box and remove the top box until they build out 80% of the bottom box.
 

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OK. Success. But it was still a nervous experience. Thanks so much for everyone's help.

The bulk of the bees were in the center of the top chamber (right above the queen cage which was in the lower chamber). They were densely packed, quiet, and surprisingly still.

So I swapped the top with the bottom and then consolidated the active frames together. The queen was out of the cage (whew) but I never saw her. I assume she was on the busiest of the center frames. I didn't have the nerve to inspect the most active frames. I had most of the hive apart already and I was getting nervous. The bees were all densely stuck together (sticky?) and separating the middle frames seemed intrusive even though I know its not. So once I saw the empty cage, I set to work on consolidating frames and closed up.

I also took the opportunity to enlarge the entrance (from about 1.5" to perhaps 4-5") because the smaller entrance seemed jammed all week and I figure they are strong enough to defend the hive. Too early?

Some other things I learned today:

- Smokers get hot. I burned myself opening it to throw some dried leaves in.
- Count to 10 before closing up. I found an extra frame and had to go back and re-arrange again.
- One or two of the bees dive-bombed me and made alot of noise. What up with that? A warning?
- The bees are still as gentle as can be when quiet and still, but I still get nervous when they get active and noisy.

Anyway... adrenaline is still pumping... I need a beer....
 

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I also took the opportunity to enlarge the entrance (from about 1.5" to perhaps 4-5") because the smaller entrance seemed jammed all week and I figure they are strong enough to defend the hive. Too early?
Sounds fine to me. :)



- Smokers get hot. I burned myself opening it to throw some dried leaves in.
The smoke can be hot too- test it on your skin before blowing it directly on any bees.


- One or two of the bees dive-bombed me and made alot of noise. What up with that? A warning?
Yes, often a couple of them start bumping at you to warn you. Good reason for a veil.


Each time I go in my hives I get a little bit less jittery. Now it's mostly before I go in that I'm nervous...I'm just thinking and worrying too much. :cool:
 
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