Double deep beehive super - Bee in Harmony, Rowe Apiaries blog

Expanding with double supers

The spring came late to Alabama this year. It is the first week of May and I have just now expanded the brood chamber to double deep supers. I described using double deep super for my brood chamber in my previous posts, but I want to briefly mention why I do this every spring. After the colony grows out of its winter quarters, I switch to one double deep super with honey supers on top. I have always liked the idea of using large and roomy quarters for my bees. In the North, some beekeepers use top bar hives, but I found out that here, in the South, the comb easily falls off during my inspections (in a 90F temperatures). It is impossible for me to visit my bees only at dawn, when the temperatures are around 70F… The next idea was to make a hive with frames. Double deep super was my version of top bar hive for the South. The extra room on the bottom (I use medium frames), for future drone comb, the mesh floor of the bottom boards, and the elevation of at least 18 inches above the ground, all allow my bees to spend their energy on brood rearing and honey production, and not on regulating temperature in the brood chamber. Swarming is not a problem. Doubled landing zone ensures that all foragers can unload as fast as possible. I never have an issue with moths. Dusting is very easy. Unlike the top bar hive, the brood chamber is not disturbed during June harvesting of spring honey.

I try to keep maximum of two honey supers on the top. The first reason is obvious: with my hive standing 18 inches above the ground, I can’t build a tall tower. The second reason is that I observed in previous years that it was better to keep a maximum of two boxes. It happens that the box closest to the nest (not to be surprised) is always fuller. So, when I harvest my spring crop, I take the honey from both honey supers, to make sure that BOTH BOXES have honey left for the rest of June and July. Some bees can figure out that there is honey in the super above, and some can’t. I learned it the hard way. Summer starvation is a very real thing.
beehive winter canvas cover
Beehive winter canvas cover - Rowe Apiaries
I start by checking on colony size, gently lifting the cloth. I am looking for drones and SHB. In this colony, there were only a few drones on each frame and no SHB present.
Moving beehive - Rowe Apiaries
Double Brood Chamber - Rowe Apiaries
Next, I move the hive and start setting up the new hive. I keep the lid on the old hive, not to disturb the girls for now.

Frame with honeybees - Rowe Apiaries
Honeybee queen - Rowe Apiaries
Now, slowly, using my frame gripper, I transfer each frame out of the old hive, looking for the queen, queen cells, evaluating how many frames of brood (including drone brood) it has, how many stores of pollen and honey it has, and finally, how the brood pattern looks. This hive has a new queen. She has just started laying. There are three frames with eggs and very young larva.

I don’t necessarily follow the same order in which the frames were in the old hive. I make sure that the stores frames are on the outside and in between the brood cluster.
Setting up double brood chamber - Rowe Apiaries

Starters for beehive frames - Rowe Apiaries
Finally, I add new frames with starter chips on the outside. The double deep super is now ready for cover. In the previous years, I used to have inner covers for the sides of my double deep super. Spiders, wasps, ants and other visitors liked those very much (just like they do all the inner covers). This year, I am using a simple canvas cloth, which will go under the queen excluder. The bees used to try to seal that gap between the covers and the queen excluder (I plan to buy wood framed queen excluder, because, as you see, these metal queen excluders are simply not the same size as supers.
Setting up double brood chamber - Rowe ApiariesI install the honey supers. The inner cover that goes on the top of those has a mesh covered hole. There is no reason to give a spot for moths, SHB and other creatures to hide from the bees between the inner cover and the outer cover.

Double Brood Chamber beehive - Rowe ApiariesNow it is time for the strap. Thanks to many tornados and strong winds in our area, I always keep the strap on. So, it is done. Now before I take the old hive supers and bottom board back, I scorch both to kill any unwelcome visitors. I had a very bad experience with just a couple of beeswax moths in my bee shop! But, that story I will tell later.

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