When to put supers on?

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bobba 

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Last year my supers went on April-6. I had planned to pop them on last weekend, but looked at the weather and thought I would give it one more week.

Its been a chilly week here, especially in the mornings, there have been a few frosty ones. So I think I made the right call.

I am pretty much planning to put them on on Saturday, unless there is a blizzard forecast.

So my question, did I make the right call to hold off a week?

Should I hold off another week if the next weeks forecast still looks bad on Saturday?

Thanks as always.
 

Murox 

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Yes. Be led by the bees not the date. 7 to 8 frames of bees in the brood box is about right. You increase the volume of the hive in line with their needs; cold weather and too big a volume is not good, also consider the available forage.
 

Boston Bees 

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Last year my supers went on April-6. I had planned to pop them on last weekend, but looked at the weather and thought I would give it one more week.

Its been a chilly week here, especially in the mornings, there have been a few frosty ones. So I think I made the right call.

I am pretty much planning to put them on on Saturday, unless there is a blizzard forecast.

So my question, did I make the right call to hold off a week?

Should I hold off another week if the next weeks forecast still looks bad on Saturday?

Thanks as always.
Your forecast is for a max of 7C on Saturday, followed by -3C on Sunday night. Would I be opening up a hive to put supers on at 7C? Not personally, especially with freezing nightime temps to follow

Can you only visit them during the day at the weekends?

If you can visit midweek, it looks like Tues or Wed would be suitable to add supers. If not, the next weekend would be my choice.
 

bobba 

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Your forecast is for a max of 7C on Saturday, followed by -3C on Sunday night. Would I be opening up a hive to put supers on at 7C? Not personally, especially with freezing nightime temps to follow

Can you only visit them during the day at the weekends?

If you can visit midweek, it looks like Tues or Wed would be suitable to add supers. If not, the next weekend would be my choice.
Thanks Bosten/Murdox, so I was probably wise to hold up and should consider doing so again.

They are in my garden, so I can get to them in the week, but only after work, so 5:15pm is the earliest I can open them Mon to Fri.

So its just a preference to do weekends. More daylight and time. I am still a noob so am a bit slow still. I am not to bad when I have the hives open, but tend to faff between hives.

So I may look at starting on Tue, then finish up on Wednesday if I run out of time.

Obviously I will keep an eye on the forecast and adjust the plan accordingly.
 

Finman 

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Last year my supers went on April-6. I had planned to pop them on last weekend, but looked at the weather and thought I would give it one more week.

Its been a chilly week here, especially in the mornings, there have been a few frosty ones. So I think I made the right call.

I am pretty much planning to put them on on Saturday, unless there is a blizzard forecast.

So my question, did I make the right call to hold off a week?

Should I hold off another week if the next weeks forecast still looks bad on Saturday?

Thanks as always.
If the hive is too full of bees, give second brood box under the recent.
The super must be added even if nectar is not coming, if the hive is full of bees.
 

ericbeaumont 

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Last year my supers went on April-6.
Better to be guided by the available nectar and the freedom bees have to collect it, and better to get a super on early than late. Make sure it's a box of drawn comb (sorry, beginners with foundation).

Murox suggested 7-8 frames of brood is about right, but I heard this week of a colony with 8 frames of brood that had an egg in a QC. Tricky! Add a sheet of newspaper under the super if you're worried.
 

pargyle 

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Do they need supering?
Well ... I'm in Hampshire in the Costa del Fareham ... if anything we are at least a week or two ahead of most parts of the Southern half of the country. Supering my colonies tends to coincide with the flow from the fruit trees... once the cherries and plums are in blossom and the weather is conducive to them foraging (it wasn't down here last year) then I will check the brood levels in the hive and if there is 6 or 7 frames of brood in my 14 x 12's ... time to put a super on. It varies considerably from year to year ... there is little point in adding a super 'just in case' all that extra space when it can't be utlised does is slow the colony down.... as I've said somewhere else recently ... work with them and act accordingly.

The cherries and plums in the garden are at least a week away and the blossom appears to have been held back by this week's cold snap ...
 

pargyle 

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Going over here in London.
Yes ... you do get the warmth of the city up there....the ornamental cherries down here are now well over but the fruiting ones are still very much in bud.
 

Curly green finger's 

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Locality is really different not just down south, even here in Shropshire some one I know has put there second super on because of the early flowering osr so they think. Taste it I told them:LOL:
 

StephenT 

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Going over here in London.
Pretty much over here in the Queen of the Suburbs. It was my first spring last year and I remember that the weather was colder and so not much forage on the blossom for my one hive then. This year they needed more space quickly and so supered two and added a dummied down double brood on the other.
 

bobba 

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Do they need supering?
To be honest.......

I don't have a clue.....hold on let me find out............ Pargyle - Do i need to put supers on? ;)

Seriously, I am very bad at judging when to add more brood space or supers. The number of "frames of bees" seems to vary, my smallest hive for example is on a single brood. Looking from under the mesh on a cool day when the bees are not flying it has 4 frames covered both sides. But when I looked on a warmer day, there were clearly less bees but spread over 6-7 frames.

It was the same with my big hive last year, when I opened it mid day, it looked like there was loads of space, but in the evening they could barley all fit back in the hive, (thanks Pargyle and others for advising me to put another super on!).

My first year I tried waiting for a nuc to build to 8 frames before expanding and they just swarmed. In my second year I did one hive by the book, but double supered the other in April. The one I was waiting to expand went on to expand into 2 more hives!

So I have not had much luck trying to follow the "standard practice", and things have always gone better for me when I am less causious about adding boxes. I am hoping its something I will learn to gauge better as I gain more experience.

I know the risks associated with adding too much space before time, especially if the weather turns cold. But also don't want to risk kettling them up.

Obviously its best to have the right number of boxes, but I figure its probably better to have one too many than one to few, provided its not too cold.

There are a lot of trees coming into blossom, and I saw my bees bringing back piles of yellow pollen last week. So forage is out there.

Based on bee numbers, I have 2 that need supers ASAP, one I am not so sure about, but will likely add one anyway as its spring.

But Its my small hive on a single brood I am unsure about, I have never added another whole brood before. I was just going to pop it on the top, but may pop it under until it gets started then swap them around.

But thanks everyone for your various inputs. You have helped me think things through and hopfuly make the right choices.
 

StephenT 

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To be honest.......

I don't have a clue.....hold on let me find out............ Pargyle - Do i need to put supers on? ;)

Seriously, I am very bad at judging when to add more brood space or supers. The number of "frames of bees" seems to vary, my smallest hive for example is on a single brood. Looking from under the mesh on a cool day when the bees are not flying it has 4 frames covered both sides. But when I looked on a warmer day, there were clearly less bees but spread over 6-7 frames.

It was the same with my big hive last year, when I opened it mid day, it looked like there was loads of space, but in the evening they could barley all fit back in the hive, (thanks Pargyle and others for advising me to put another super on!).

My first year I tried waiting for a nuc to build to 8 frames before expanding and they just swarmed. In my second year I did one hive by the book, but double supered the other in April. The one I was waiting to expand went on to expand into 2 more hives!

So I have not had much luck trying to follow the "standard practice", and things have always gone better for me when I am less causious about adding boxes. I am hoping its something I will learn to gauge better as I gain more experience.

I know the risks associated with adding too much space before time, especially if the weather turns cold. But also don't want to risk kettling them up.

Obviously its best to have the right number of boxes, but I figure its probably better to have one too many than one to few, provided its not too cold.

There are a lot of trees coming into blossom, and I saw my bees bringing back piles of yellow pollen last week. So forage is out there.

Based on bee numbers, I have 2 that need supers ASAP, one I am not so sure about, but will likely add one anyway as its spring.

But Its my small hive on a single brood I am unsure about, I have never added another whole brood before. I was just going to pop it on the top, but may pop it under until it gets started then swap them around.

But thanks everyone for your various inputs. You have helped me think things through and hopfuly make the right choices.
My Buckfast hive needed more space than a single brood a couple of weeks back. I took advice from people here, added another brood box but didn’t want to just double the space right away and so added 50mm kingspan dummy boards and positioned the nest in the middle of both boxes (with the capped in the bottom box as much as I could). I’ll take out the dummy boards, fill the gaps with foundation and super once the weather warms up again. Controlled expansion + a bit of insulation at the sides seems to have worked for me at this time of year, although like you I’m a beginner (not quite 2 years completed) and am trying to make the best judgements I can in circumstances I’ve not experienced before.
 

Lizbee 

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My bees back on to a huge field of oil seed rape, now in flower, so yes, I have put a super on. We are still having some chilly weather though, I like the idea of a sheet of newspaper between the brood box and the super - presumably to help keep them warm? And I didn't know drawn comb would be better. I have got quite a lot from last year (a long story, didn't get the honey extracted and ended up feeding it back to the bees.) I put it in the freezer and stored it sealed, so hopefully it is still okay. I'll use it later in another super perhaps.
If there are any other beginners wondering if beekeeping is all too complicated, have a look at Karl Colyer's excellent talk on the BIBBA website 'Things I wish I'd known earlier'.
 

Murox 

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My bees back on to a huge field of oil seed rape, now in flower, so yes, I have put a super on. We are still having some chilly weather though, I like the idea of a sheet of newspaper between the brood box and the super - presumably to help keep them warm? And I didn't know drawn comb would be better. I have got quite a lot from last year (a long story, didn't get the honey extracted and ended up feeding it back to the bees.) I put it in the freezer and stored it sealed, so hopefully it is still okay. I'll use it later in another super perhaps.
If there are any other beginners wondering if beekeeping is all too complicated, have a look at Karl Colyer's excellent talk on the BIBBA website 'Things I wish I'd known earlier'.
If you are on a field of just blooming OSR then you have a golden opportunity to get plenty of foundation drawn.
 

polymath 

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My Buckfast hive needed more space than a single brood a couple of weeks back. I took advice from people here, added another brood box but didn’t want to just double the space right away and so added 50mm kingspan dummy boards and positioned the nest in the middle of both boxes (with the capped in the bottom box as much as I could). I’ll take out the dummy boards, fill the gaps with foundation and super once the weather warms up again. Controlled expansion + a bit of insulation at the sides seems to have worked for me at this time of year, although like you I’m a beginner (not quite 2 years completed) and am trying to make the best judgements I can in circumstances I’ve not experienced before.
I run as a standard double national, but at 8 frames in each box, i.e. same space roughly as brood and a half. I use gaffa wrapped corex blocks to fill the space. More insulation. Gives me one size of frames over two boxes but enough space for them. if the queen is a really big layer then i can expand, but if the bees get to brood over 10/11 frames by mid April then they are demareed anyway.
 
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