When Do I Super a Hive?
By: Blake Shook
Is it a time of year, or when the bees reach a certain stage? The short answer is…both!
Supering is usually referred to as: adding additional boxes in which the bees begin storing surplus honey. In most cases this is done after two brood boxes have been added and filled by the bees.
In the videos on the facing page, we show how to add a super and a queen excluder. Due to timing of filming, you’ll notice our demonstration hive is a single deep as opposed to a double…Nevertheless the process is the same. Once your second brood box is 80% full of bees and drawn comb, it’s time to add your first super! This is the first criteria to add a super. If that criteria isn’t reached by mid to late June in the southern US, you’ve most likely missed your window to make a honey crop, as most flowers begin dying off at that point. In most southern regions the major nectar/surplus honey flow begins in early May and runs through late June.
Your goal as a beekeeper is to have your hive ready to produce honey (2 brood boxes full of bees, honey and comb) by that early May start date. If you are already there, and your two brood boxes are full, you can go ahead and add a honey super. I would recommend using a queen excluder otherwise the queen will most likely fill that third box full of brood before the honey flow really begins. You can also share some frames of brood from your stronger hive to weaker hives to balance out strength.
If your hives are newly purchased or you made splits, aggressive feeding of 1:1 syrup will help them tremendously in drawing out new comb and quickly filling their first and second brood boxes.
It may be time to add your second honey super within days or not at all depending on the weather, your bees, and the conditions that year. When your first super is 80% full of honey, capped or uncapped, it’s time to add your next super!