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When to remove reducer and when to add honey super?

1417 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Vance G
First year and first hive. I installed the package middle of May. I had frames with drawn comb so the queen went to work right away. After a few weeks the bottom box had activity on most frames with lots of capped brood, etc. I added a second deep box with 8 frames. 1 had drawn comb, some have foundation, and some were foundationless with just fishing line. I added a feeder a week and a half ago to see if they would start drawing in the second deep and they did. They seem to like the empties with the fishing line because they started building on them first. Right now probably 40-50% of the frames in the top box are drawn and have bees on them. One of the frames was covered with capped brood and larvae so the queen has been up there and laying. I was thinking next week I could add a medium I have with 8 frames. At this point is it OK to add that next weekend or should I monitor it and make sure it is closer to 80% full.
Right now I have about a 4 inch opening. When, if ever, should I open the entrance all the way up?

My hive is across the street from my house at an apple orchard so there should be a decent supply of food most of the year. I know he has a large pumpkin crop and some other plants that bloom a little later in the year.
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Generally, you do not expect to harvest honey from a hive its first year. An apple orchard is nice, if the farmer doesn't spray…
When is the nectar flow in your area? Ideally there are signs that tell you when you should be adding honey supers: for example, in our area, when we see dandelions starting, we know to get honey supers ready. Around late March, early April we add supers, BEFORE the black locust blooms. Only 60 minutes away from me, they can still add supers while my area goes into a dearth.
Beekeeping is very local, you need to talk to local beekeepers to know when the nectar flow is going to happen and when to add supers.
Pardon the stupid newbie questions....I know people use the honey supers to harvest honey but will the bees use them over the winter to feed on? I was not planning on harvesting any honey I just figured the more that was available the better to help them get through the winter. If the bees will have enough stores in the two deeps I already have then that is fine. I am more interested in making sure they survive then me getting any honey.
Bees will use their stores wherever they are in the hive or whatever it is stored in. Slap the honey super on and the bees will use it to store nectar. This will allow the queen to lay in the second brood chamber. The reducer is fine at it's opening now UNTIL you notice a backup of bees wanting to enter.
Most commercial guys run a 3/4"-1" opening on every super. That's not a big opening if you think about it.
Is it common place to use an upper entrance as well or do most just use the bottom entrance. Right now I just have the 4 inch bottom entrance and two deeps. Both deeps currently have brood in them.
I have not personally used upper entrances but I believe those that do tend to use them if they use queen excluders or have lots of supers. The idea is that the returning foragers and house bees that collect the nectar loads, do not need to travel so far through the hive. I figure they do it in a bee tree, they can do it in a hive. In my area, lots of supers are not an issue…sigh.

But as I do use queen excluders, if we have another spring like this one next year, I will use an Imrie shim in between supers just to see if there's a difference.
If you have brood in both boxes and the bees are working on the outside four frames, get a super on. A frame of brood emerging in another two pounds of bees. If you have flowers blooming and nectar coming in, the bees need the room. Many many beginners are told not to prepare for a crop and lose the crop and often end up with a swarmed queenless hive dwindling into winter. Bees need twice as much room to dry down nectar as they do to store the actual honey. Good luck.
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