Brood and a half- half on the top or bottom?

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


New Bee
Aug 21, 2009
Reaction score
Hive Type
Number of Hives
I had assumed that the logical way would be to put the super at the top as normal but this was dismissed by an old beekeeper I met- saying no always put the super at the bottom. I can't see a lot of difference if its all worker foundation? any thoughts?

I had assumed that the logical way would be to put the super at the top as normal but this was dismissed by an old beekeeper I met- saying no always put the super at the bottom. I can't see a lot of difference if its all worker foundation? any thoughts?


Not that I use this method but would have thought that you put the extra space ie super, on top as queens like to move upwards?
I am sure other members with a lot more experience than me will be along soon to correct me if I'm wrong.
Have fun

I would wonder why brood and a half in the first place, either go with a larger style box that offers near enough a brood and a half volume/cells. Or go with double brood that offers the flexibility of swapping frames or boxes about and will cope with very prolific bees!!!!!!

As to the question, you can use any size box in any position if you wish. I have seen one lady running 3 supers for a brood area, to me that's just mad, but it works for her:svengo:

Regards Ian
Hope you don't mind me hijacking your thread cstroud but back in the Autumn my girls were inspected by the bee inspector and she said I should put a super back on (I had taken them down to just the brood box in readiness for winter) because they were a big colony and she thought they may fill some of the super in time for the winter. So bowing to her superior knowledge I did this and they happily spread themselves out. Last weekend I treated with oxalic acid (blimey that makes them moody :() and noted that they were still filling about half the frames of the super. Now I really don't want to run on a brood and a half for the summer so how do I get the QE back above the brood box and when do I do it?
At the moment I have the brood box with one super on, then the QE with the fondant on top of that. They were a very big swarm I got last June. Can be a bit moody so will be re queening come the Spring/Summer.:)

In the Spring, shake the bees into the brood box, put on the queen excluder and then the super with brood in - I assume. (If you can find the queen then you can just put her down below to avoid the shaking). The bees will quickly cover the brood whilst the queen will lay in the brood chamber below the queen excluder. After 3 weeks the super will be clear of brood. If there is any drone brood in the super, remove it when capped to stop them being trapped above the 'excluder and also as a means of varroa removal.
If you had put the super under the brood chamber last autumn, the chance would be that the queen would only be laying in the brood chamber so you could have wipped the super away this Spring before she started to lay in it.

My personal choice is to do double brood, not brood and a half. To answer the original question, bees would naturally work from the top down so empty frames under the existing brood chamber rather than above IMO.
I had assumed that the logical way would be to put the super at the top as normal but this was dismissed by an old beekeeper I met- saying no always put the super at the bottom. I can't see a lot of difference if its all worker foundation? any thoughts?


In spring, when nights and rainy days are cold, I enlarge all hives downwards. Warm air rises up. If you put an empty box over brood area, it takes long time before bees can occupy 100% more room. But heat escapes up.

When bees start to forage surpluss, and it is warm, I put supers on the brood area.

In summer empty combs I put allways between brood area and honey boxes.

In spring, keep allways brood area compact. Dont put any fiundations or comb inside brood area. Don't shake bees and don,t do any naughty tricks to them.

When you have 3 box in the hive, be aware on swarming.

Look every week inside the hive and follow how it expand and learn.
Brood and a half is a pain because frames cannot be interchanged between boxes. Having said that the bees don't mind whether the super is above or below the brood box. From an inspection point of view super on top cos it's lighter than the brood box:).

If your strain of bees need more space than a single standard brood box go for either the big frame or double brood box every time IMHO.
:cheers2: Mike
As usual a very interesting and helpful discussion...

So I have a brood and a super on top (with supplies in) and also I have one below at the moment too. QE is in my shed waiting to be cleaned.

I am guessing that my girls started going out for the loo in the last week as here in Hampshire the temperatures have started to climb to around 9 degrees.

I hope to take a look at them on Sunday and see whether they are OK and have lots of food still.

In the Autumn I had reduced the hive to a bottom super with food and a brood box ontop. However, they seemed to have discovered a flow late on and there were still lots of flying bees and they seemed very cramped in the configuration.

So I added an additional super to give some space and allow them to store their flow as the Brood and bottom super were full.

I have a couple of questions:

1. When do people in the South of the UK typically start changing the configuration back to Brood plus Supers?

2. When do people think that I should replace the OMF that I removed for Winter?

Do people think my following thoughts are reasonable or plain daft?

I got my girls from Thornes at the end of may in a 5 frame Nuc. They grew rapidly and strongly and I had a lot of honey in the summer (25lbs at the start of July) and some 8lbs more in September (I took it too soon I think).

I am making the assumption that as a second year colony they will grow even bigger than last year and so I need to have a bigger brood box and probably split them sometime in Spring to control swarming. Does it work this way? I am quite anxious about losing a swarm (probably as I am naive in all this).

If you think it is right for me to move the colony to a deeper brood box how long do I have to prepare do you think? When should I expect the queen to start laying and for how long do you think it will take her to decide to lay in the supers. How long do you think I have got before I need to remove them?
Does she fill the brood first.

As for moving to deep brood frames, I think there is a post on here about that so I know I need to go and find it and read on how to do this...

Sorry for asking a raft of additional questions...and for the ignorance,
You have a slightly odd set-up. The bees won't mind though! If you have 2 supers and a brood chamber and at least one super and the brood are full, then it is unlikely that you will need to feed. A heft should tell you - although it's harder in a WBC. My first inspection last year was mid March (Norfolk) so that is when you should look see what's in your hive. Your queen may be laying now in small amounts and possibly in the top super.
The OMF can be left open all year round unless you are doing a mite count.

Hi Sam,
It is far to early to think about opening your hive to check on food. You will release all the heat from the hive and the bees will be very stressed and let you know in no uncertain terms.

I started beekeeping in Amesbury - not a million miles from you - and late Feb early Mar was the norm. A nice sunny day when you can go out in shirt sleeves without getting hypothermia and when the bees are active.

My mentor used to call it the spring clean:-
Clean floor - in your case replace the OMF - next winter leave it on the bees will not suffer.
Clean Qx and re-arrange you brood/super arrangement. As you have had to add 2 supers to give them space it looks as if you need to go to double brood and keep your supers for honey which is what they were designed for:) If you decide to go for deep frames you have at least 2 months to get prepared,do not rush the change over early spring is when most colonies suffer.

Manipulation too early kills off the "winter" bees before this years brood is ready to take over hence the term "spring dwindle"

Hope this helps - good luck :cheers2: Mike
Many many thanks for your thoughts especiallu Mike and Adam.I will heed your advice and plan to see my girls in a late Feb if the warmth is here,

All advice is genuinely appreciated and heeded if better than my own thoughts,

All the best,