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 video, you 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:
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.
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If you are a beginner beekeeper, knowing if there are enough honey stores can be hard to figure out on your very first overwintered hive check. The simplest way to check if there are enough stores is to gently lift your hive from the bottom board (without disturbing the hive too much). If it is very light and easy to lift, you DO NOT have enough stores.