This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Bee Strategy - How to add supers

When adding supers a beekeepers could just add them to the top of the hive. But, there are some moves that a beekeeper may do to increase the honey crop yield.
  1. Adding supers with 10 new frames. This scenario is to put the supers on without a queen excluder. Inspect the supers about every four days. When a couple super frames have some comb and nectar being present, then slide the queen excluder in between the top brood box. It is unlikely that the queen would move up that quickly to start laying eggs. Letting the bees to put up more comb on more frames, is an invite to the queen to possibly move up and start laying eggs in the super. Boxes with new frames should be put on the hive two supers at a time. A super with new frames should always be put on, directly above the brood box. When the bees have finished filling about 2/3rds of the frames in the first box. The boxes could be reversed. A frame of drawn comb should be put into the bottom super from the top super. The bees tend to fill super frames from the center of the box  and move out from there. During weekly inspections, capped frames of honey that are in the center of the super, can be moved to the position of the outside frames and the new outside frames are then placed into the center of the super. This will aid in filling the supers completely.
  2. Supers with drawn comb can be just stacked one on top of each other. They should always be added in pairs. The supers with drawn comb should have 9 frames in each box. By using 9 frames, the capped honey will be fatter on the frames making the honey frames easier to uncap.and extract If the frames are still wet and sticky with honey from last year's extraction party, they are very attractive to the bees, compared to drawn comb that was let to be robbed dry last fall.   
  3. If there is a huge nectar flow in your area and the hives are turning into a unworkable tower and soaring to the sky. Filled supers can be removed and put on top of low producing hives. Move the supers, bees and all. The weaker hive will then get a little bump of bees. The weaker colony will be able to take care of the honey, hopefully keeping the moisture content low in the honey. The weaker colony should have at least 8 full frames of bees in the hive to have sufficient numbers of bees to mind the supers. Do not remove honey from the hive and put it in the garage or basement. Honey in frames just sitting around without bees taking care of them, will more than likely pick up moisture from the humidity in the air. When these frames are extracted, the honey may have a high moisture content. Honey with a water content of over 18.6% will ferment with time. So always manage the supers of honey properly.
If the bees are not putting honey up in the supers, there can be for several reasons.
 Bees will fill the top brood box with honey first.
 The hive has swarmed, now there are not enough field bees to forage in large numbers.
 The hive is weak and does not have a large enough population in general.
 Where the hive is located, the available nectar is not there. You can have the best colony in town, but if there is not good forage near the hive, there will be a poor showing in the supers.
 The hive is queenless, the bees will fill the brood nest with honey first.
Check the hive weekly, stay ahead of the bees by adding supers a little sooner than later. As the nectar flow slows in late July, supers are added as needed.