Feeding/space dilemma

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Field Bee
Jul 18, 2009
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Hive Type
Here is the scene

Hive 1 std BS National - Brood box full to the gunnels, mainly food 50% capped and about 3.5 frames with brood. 1 Super, full and capped. Super is above Brood with QE at present.

Hive 2 std BS national - same as above but no super.

I am worried that they are too full but and that it is too late to add additional space. They each had about three frames empty 10 days ago, but they suddenly found a flow and filled them very quickly. Should I add an empty super to the smaller colony and divide the contents of the other super between them?

I stopped feeding syrup one week ago as they had not taken any down for a week.

Your thoughts would be appreciated. :confused:
Are we 14 x 12 or are we standard National? Some considerable differences here.

Are these shallow frames which have been filled recently or brood frames? Considerable difference between a super frame and a jumbo.

Finman is right as usual. If they are collecting, let them continue. Removing a fully capped super or some fully capped frames will give you some extra flexibility should they need some stores in the future,or for nucs if you split early. Not worth much else as it is only sugar honey, by the sounds of things.

I prefer a National brood + a super (should be more than enough for the worst winter) if on a standard brood. A 14 x 12 + super should be enough if winter starts tomorrow and lasts until the end of April!

Not sure what good a Q/E is doing at this time of the year. I would remove it - she is not going to be laying up there if it is full and capped.

I would probably be removing full brood frames (replacing with empty comb) as that would probably be more useful later.

Regards, RAB
Frames are std brood and shallow super. I am intending to convert to 14x12 next year when they start building up.

Super is honey, not sugar, sugar is in the brood box.

The QE is still on as I have not setup for winter yet, this is being done very soon.

I was happy that both hives are ready for the winter, but then they found a flow and 'over did it'.

My initial thoughts are:

1/ add super to hive 2 under brood
2/ divide the capped frames between the two and fill space with foundation (no drawn frames available).
3/ place super under brood on hive 1 and remove QE
I put supers above the brood. Supering means just that; not undering. Bees will always tend to move upwards. So they can start the winter lower down and move gently upwards as the winter progresses. That way there is less 'vain' space above them in the coldest part of the year. They will cluster around any remaining brood. If they start halfway up they may never find the food below the brood later in the winter. Also their warmth will be retained in the stores above them (or the stores above will be kept warm by the bees). If left below it may well be very cold.

Sorry, but as often the case, an incomplete description of the actual situation. It is difficult enough to give the best answer from a long way away; even more so without all the facts. You might know them, others might, but I don't.

I am left wondering why, if you already had a full super of honey on that hive, why you were feeding it syrup? My bees have been busily bringing in stores all along, steadily increasing stocks since the honey harvest was removed. Only for a very short while was I monitoring stores levels, just in case....

Why has one colony filled a super and the other not even got/had one fitted?

When did you start feeding syrup and how much did they take? If you started at the beginning of September, I would have expected both to have easily filled a super by now.

Why are the two colonies so different? One a lot stronger than the other? Or just different bee types?

I would be wanting both to be filling super frames so there is a super above each brood for the winter if possible, at the very least. We, of course don't know how long the good foraging weather might last. I always say make the best of it while it does last. Last year I was picking runner beans into November and the bees were still foraging strongly until then, and later. They were actually taking in pollen on the winter solstice and Christmas eve.

Runner beans are not so good this year. Bees are doing fine.

Regards, RAB
humm , as said on phone, what i would do is replace 3/4 frames from the middle of the super with drawn comb or foundation, allow them to fill them up with food. If the weather turns they still have half a super to live on till you can replace these removed frames.


Paleo, I was in the same boat. I posted a similar plea for help a few weeks back. I think it was Finnam who encapsualted the majority of views.

'Place an additional super on top without a qe so brood ball can move up into super if they need to and wont leave queen behind, in spring check for queen and replace qe and three weeks later the super can be returned to early flow storage'
Thats what I have done anyway.

Nice problem to have which ever way you look at it - no probs with critical mass into winter. Mine still show no signs of slowing down, still 2+ frames of brood. So far 27 ltr of double syrup, the extra super is full bar one undrawn frame (moved to edge), they aren't getting any more - or they wont fit through the mouse gaurd!
Oliver, sorry about lack of detail.

Both hives were recent late season purchases (2 clapped out WBC's, too good to ignore), We now have two national hives and two garden ornaments that will be renovation projects over the winter, but the general gist is:

Hive one was a full hive and although it had a super of honey, when the queen cut down on laying the brood box had a fair amount of space for food so I started to feed, they took approx 8Kg then stopped taking it down and just ignored the feeder.

Hive two is the result of a late split, hence the smaller size and this was given sugar to boost the stores, but took approx 9Kg and then stopped.

They then found a flow from somewhere and made the most of it.

An additional frame of foundation was added to each brood when converted to national and these were both drawn and filled within two weeks.

Both hives will be setup for the winter later this week.

Thank you all for your comments, it is appreciated.


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