Natural Beekeeping 101: Moving to double deep supers

Double deep beehive supers

The bees have been busy for months, but I have only now added honey frames to my double deep supers. Last year, it was the first week of April, but this year, I needed to wait and build up the colonies to full 75% occupancy level. As soon as the bees fill at least half of each of two supers (one deep and one medium), it is time to migrate to the double deep super. Here are a few simple reasons:

  • To avoid swarming (by rearranging the nest, removing “extra” comb from the bottom of the medium frames).
  • To provide for better ventilation for a growing colony. Better ventilation means less swarming, healthier colonies. Think of the moisture buildup, which is not good in the spring (think hot days and cold nights). Also, moist and dark environment is favored by small hive beetles.
  • To allow for more affective dusting (both for mites and small hive beetle control).
  • To allow for easier inspections (nobody wants to bother the bees in the bottom deep super, moving heavy medium super out of the way, and risking to crush many bees, including the queen herself).

I agree with many Russian beekeepers that the colony must be at full strength before being allowed to make “extra” (for human consumption) honey. The bees will always prefer fresh nectar and pollen to any feed, but it is important to keep nurse bees nursing the new generation with little interruption due to bad weather and dearth of food supplies.

Here is the process step-by-step:

1. I looked for any signs of disease (I did not see any, but it does not mean that the pathogens are not present, so I sanitized my equipment afterwards). I made sure that the queen was present, laying a good pattern. I made sure that at least 50% of all bee spaces were filled.

Then, I set the old hive on the ground.

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2. I set 2 bottom boards next to one another.

3. I set the double deep super on the top of two bottom boards (meshed ones, with trays removed).

P10301244. I slowly transferred all frames, making sure that the worker brood frames stay together. I never rotated the frames. Also, any “extra” comb that the bees built at the bottom of the frames (in the bottom deep super) got scraped away. Here, no brood was present on the “extra” comb. No brood should be present, since the queen was about to move into the upper box.

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5. I arranged the drone brood frames and fresh honey/syrup frames on the outside of the worker brood frames.

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6. Instead of the queen excluder, I set an inner cover and side inner and outer covers on the top of the double deep super.

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7. Finally, I added the shallow supers.

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P1030135I use plastic foundation for the honey supers, because I use a honey extractor.

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