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Adding supers for the honey crop while creating your own nucs

July 06, 2018 2 Comments

Adding supers for the honey crop while creating your own nucs

Late June is the time to add supers to your honeybee hive. This blog takes you through the steps to accomplish this vital part of the honey-production process. You will also read how to create two summer nucs while adding your supers.

Please watch our video to see the hands-on demonstration. 

The word super comes from the word ‘superimposed.’  This simply means that we are superimposing a new box above the brood nest.  The honey always moves up through the hive, and is typically found overtop the brood nest.

If you followed our advice in our earlier YouTube videoyou will have split your hive(s) in the latter part of May. At that time we took six frames of capped brood from the “parent” hive and placed them in the “new” hive with the bees’ entrance facing the opposite way from the other hive.  A full day later we added a queen and after another two days we released the queen into the new hive. Now both populations are flourishing, both hive entrances face the same direction, and it is time for the next few steps in the process of summer hive management.  

Have all your supplies ready before starting. For each hive you should have three full-depth supers containing 10 frames with starter combs each to harvest your honey. Or, as in the video you can include a hybrid flow auto-extract super with six deep frames for comb honey, and three auto extract frames in the centre.

Here’s the process I use for my hives just east of Edmonton, Alberta. Four days before starting, we inserted excluders between the two boxes of the hive.. We do this to make finding the queen easier, and also to allow the hive to make us two nucs as well as produce honey all in the same season.

In the time since we opened the hive in May, all the bees that came through the winter have died and several new generations of bees have replaced them.  So our hive now has a strong population in the region of 50 – 60,000 bees. Using the excluder means that whichever chamber contains eggs will be the chamber where we will find the queen.

When we are finished we will have the queen in the bottom box, and all of the capped brood, larvae and eggs in the second box. We will have taken four frames of capped brood, larvae and eggs and replaced them with empty frames in the bottom chamber for the queen to lay in immediately.

We then put the first honey super on top of the brood chamber, slightly offset to allow access for the bees and some ventilation, and our nuc box will go on top of that.

The double nuc box allows for five frames on each side, separated by a wood wall. The bottom is mesh.

Let’s get started:

  • Take off the lid and top vent box, as well as the inner cover of the brood chamber. You can tell the hive is ready fpor supers when you see bees operating on all 10 frames, as well as fresh white wax between and on top of the frames, indicating the bees want to go higher up.
  • Check top and bottom chambers for the queen. A frame with capped brood is perfect to set aside for your nuc box.
  • Take out four frames - two of capped brood and two of eggs and larvae. Put one of each in each nuc chamber.
  • Put in four new frames in the centre of the box for the queen to continue laying.  Release the queen back among the bees. Make this the bottom box.
  • Replace the excluder on the bottom box. Set upper brood chamber on top.
  • Place honey super on top of the brood chamber, offsetting it by about an inch. Use duct tape to close the gap that could allow rain to enter. The more sheltered gap allows for bee access and ventilation. .
  • Place inner cover on top of the super,
  • Set double nuc box on top of the inner cover.
  • In 24-48 hours the bees will realize they don’t have a queen  and they will make emergency cells. Four weeks from now we will have a new laying queen.
  • You now have a queen laying happily in the bottom box, and bees in the second chamber making honey for their own use.

Ideally, have your hives “supered up” by Canada Day, and have all the equipment you need well in advance. Hiveworld.ca has it all, with free shipping, same-day if ordered before 5 p.m.!  

Summer nucs are an ideal way to increase your apiary, or they can be offered for sale to hiveworld.ca or other beekeepers. If you choose not to make summer nucs, then all you need to do is add your supers and follow the other instructions, ignoring the information about the nucs.

I hope this information is useful to you, and welcome any comments or questions you may have.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels for all the latest news and tips.  We’re Alberta-based. We know the country, and we know bees.

2 Responses


July 11, 2018

George – you posed a great question. Our next Hiveworld.ca videos now through September will demonstrate how to overwinter the two summer nucs on top of a full hive for successful overwintering. If this is your plan, you will need a double nuc box with screen bottom.


July 10, 2018

So what do I do with a summer nuc? Will It be strong enough to make it through the winter..? unless you are wintering inside…

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