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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Going into my 2nd year with my first and only hive.

3 medium supers
Italian bees
Hive is alive at this point, cluster is in the top box right under a pile of sugar I placed on a small sheet of newspaper.

This past fall I left my honey super or 3rd medium on top as it appeared to be 3/4 full of honey or at least capped food. I had feed aggressively via hive top feeder all fall to get them through the winter with big time stores.

I've been doing some reading - since my bees appear to be in the top box, and they might be rearing brood now in that top box I'm thinking I might be in trouble for the honey season as my honey super is now just another brood box. Right?

Does anyone have a reco on what to do? I read in BEEK for dummies that honey supers can be removed for winter, seems odd, then what do they have to eat all winter?

Maybe I need to buy a 4th box and add it as a honey super later in the spring?

Thoughts?

As always, many thanks in advance.
 

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The bees generally keep enough stores in the brood boxes to get through winter (usually), so anything above the brood boxes is (again, usually) surplus that they can do without.

And just because they're in the top box now doesn't necessarily mean that they're raising brood in it, it just means that bees naturally move up in the boxes over winter (they eat the stores in the lower boxes, then move up to get more).

Easiest way that I'm aware of to get brood out of the honey supers is to wait for warmer weather after they are gearing up, then heavily smoke the top box. That should drive the queen down into the lower boxes, and then you can put a queen excluder between the super and the brood nest. The nurse bees will tend to any brood in the super until it hatches out while the excluder keeps the queen from laying any more in it. Soon as the brood hatches out, the workers will back fill those frames with honey and it'll go back to being a super again.
 

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A lot of people consider three mediums to be the brood chamber requirement and it would not be unreasonable to buy two more honey supers. If your colony is strong, there is probably brood in two of those mediums or will be soon. Then next year be sure to take honey supers off in the fall or they will have brood laid in them the following spring too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Great responses, tx so much. Love the heavy smoke idea plus the confirmation of adding a box. Again tx.
 

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If bees are in top box rearing brood simply put the empty lower boxes on top of them when it warms a little more. These are your brood chambers. Then add your honey supers on top. I don't use a queen excluder so sometimes the brood nest temporarily moves into a honey super but it is usually backfilled w/ honey when I harvest. Does no harm to the honey though some folks don't like it. In my experience, if you wait for the bees to move down on their own they usually only do so after switching into swarm mode.

Congrats on having bees survive this winter! Only lost one hive myself so far--mites. They were supposed to be hygienic but obviously were not.
 

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Do as JClark said. Put that super on the bottom at least for a few weeks when it is getting war,. She will move up and lay on the deep frames. I have already switched mine a couple weeks ago and she is laying on 5 deep frames that where previously empty. I will switch it back up in a few weeks though. I went ahead and added another super on top to give them a little room. This should be a roaring hive so for your I would do the same.
 

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gman, are the 3 mediums the only boxes you are using right now, or are they on top of a deep? If 3 mediums is your current complete set up then those 3 "are" the brood boxes. In the northeast you will need at least those 3 mediums for spring brood and overwintering, and additional honey supers would go above them.
 
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