Adding a Super

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New Bee
Jan 7, 2009
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near Stockbridge, Hants
Hive Type
Number of Hives
This is my first time bringing bees through the winter. I started keeping bees early summer last year.

I have just been to see my two colonies and added about 1.25kg of fondant as the 2.5kg I added at the end of Jan was all gone. I did not lift any frames as it is still too cold in my opinion, about 12c.

I have also been adding pollen substitute. The last 250g was gone so I have just added another 250g to each colony.

My question is about when to start adding supers. One colony was very strong and seemed to be on 8/11 of the frames, the other not so strong but still 6/11. I could see a fair bit of pollen coming in but I don't know about nectar. I don't think it is too early to add a super but I was hoping to get some other opinions. Is there anything that can go badly wrong if I add one too early. I am using 12x14 brood boxes.

I am trying to build them up for the rape this year. My apiary is surrounded by it, at least it was last year.

Any advice welcome.
We've seen fresh honey being stored this week, but only a little. There's no real need to add supers for another couple of weeks, espcecially in a 14 by 12.

On the other hand it won't do any serious harm to add a super if in doubt. Bees usually survive the roof blowing off so a bit of extra space in the hive won't hurt them.

Have you hefted the hive to feel the weight? That's a good guide to whether they need space.
Hi Eddie,
Are you sure you have much spring sown rape around ?
Most of the farmers i know have ploughed the autumn sown rape in and replanted with spring sown due to the autumn sown being in very late as they had to wait for the weather to clear on the corn before harvest.
Both colonies feel rather weighty so I am happy that things are progressing well.

We have a village newsletter that the local farmer has a column in. In the last column they said they had rape planted. I will ask however as you say it may be that they have planted later.

You are saying the bees are covering 8 of 11 frames.

My question is, and supering depends on this, how many frames of brood do you have?

For a thought I would not super before 8, depending on how strong the bees are which is a value judgement which takes a few years to develop. Some boxes on 8 frames are in need of more space and some are not. That is the experience aspect.

To be honest how many frames the bees are covering at 2pm is academic. Its the number of brood frames that count.

That is a good point. The problem is I don't really want to do a full inspection until it warms up a bit.
Eddie how warm is warmed up?

When I inspected 4 miles away from you this afternoon it was 14.8c at 3pm.
I peeped at three and it was too cold.

I left.

If the bees are dribbling home and none are leaving its too cold.

If there are lots zooming away and returning and even better indulging in play flights at the front door, ( if flying facing the hive they are youngsters memorising the location) then it is warm enough.

To judge the strength you need to know the brood situation.


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