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Hi all,
I'm a relatively new beek in the northeastern US with two new hives this year, but both started on drawn combs from earlier (failed) years. They got off to a rough start with lost queens, but I did a full inspection and both are HOPPING now. Population is dense, lots of brood in all stages, bees active coming and going, low mite load. My setup is two deep boxes, additional top entrance drilled in the upper deep. The upper deep box has some brood in the central 5-6 frames, but is predominantly capped honey and lots of uncapped nectar (not syrup, I haven't fed since early season). The lower deep is mostly brood, but also has a good amount of uncapped nectar and a little capped honey around the perimeter. I have some medium supers, a few frames with lightly drawn comb but predominantly undrawn plastic foundation. My concern at the moment is whether to add those supers, since

A) I want to avoid them getting honeybound and take advantage of their current productivity, but
B) I know you should typically not extract honey from a first-year hive. So the way I see it, my options are:


1. Leave them alone and trust that the bees know what they're doing,
2. Add supers with a queen excluder (as for extracting honey), just being sure that they retain enough honey in the deeps for overwintering.
3. Add supers but no excluder - the idea being to save them for winter stores as needed, though I've read mixed information here as to whether supers can be left on over the winter.


Any advice is much appreciated.
 

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When you give a new hive all drawn comb and you have a good honey flow going, things can be completely different than a typical new hive on foundation. It will not hurt to put a super on. You can always feed heavy syrup later if you need to get their winter stores up. I'd put a queen excluder on and then you always have the option of removing the excluder leaving the super on for winter food, but that's just me. Here is a picture of a 1st year hive in August that I started from a package in April of last year. All 5 of those deeps are completely full. I gave them all fully drawn plastic comb and they went to town.
 

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By all means, put them on no matter what you decide to do with them if they fill them. Your priority right now is to give them space and get them to draw comb. I don't know your area, but in VT, it is common to overwinter with 2 deeps and a medium super. If you overwinter with just 2 deeps, extract the honey and feed if necessary in the fall. J
 

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Stop feeding and put on supers. If your supers are not drawn comb, consider pulling a frame of eggs and larvae and moving it over the queen excluder after shaking off bees to insure you don't move the queen up. If you run medium frame supers, put on two supers with a matching empty center slot to accomidate the deeper frame. This will get the bees working above the excluder.
 
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