When to Add Honey Super (With Video)


How to Add a Honey Super

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There are two main methods for adding a new honey super to your beehive. Top supering is added above the brood box, while bottom supering is done on top of an existing one. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on the type of beehive you have. You should observe the foraging behavior of your bees before you decide which method is best for you. Below you will find more information about the two methods.

What is a honey super

Beehive

A honey super is a container where a colony can store a significant amount of honey. Most beekeepers put a super on their hives at different stages of honey flow. The supers are placed on the frames after the honey has flowed to about 80 percent of capped honeycomb. Depending on the region you live in, you may harvest less than 50 pounds of honey from a colony. In any case, you must make sure that the extra honey is cured and capped. In the spring, after the last major nectar flow, you can harvest honey from your hives.

The height of the super is a significant factor. Bigger supers can hold more honey than small ones. The deepest super can weigh close to 70 pounds of honey. A medium-sized super can hold less than half that amount. Smaller supers are lighter than deep boxes. Depending on the size of your hives, you may need two or three supers in order to store the honey. To make the process easier, try placing the supers on top of the hives.

It’s also important to understand the needs of the colony. New colonies need space to build up their numbers, produce wax for combs, and store honey for winter. In a new hive, 80% of the bottom deep should be used before you consider adding a second super box. A nuc hive that has five frames might already be overflowing and not be ready for a second box right away.

While it’s common to stack boxes high, you should use supers for your bees if you’re unable to get your hands on the frames. These boxes will prevent comb from getting too high or falling to the bottom. In this way, you’ll be able to inspect the hive easily. You can stack supers high if your colony is particularly productive. However, it’s important to be careful when handling high boxes.

Honey super

Before you add another super to your beehives, you should make sure that your first one is completely drawn. There is no use in supering over the top of your existing one as the bees do not care either way. On the other hand, if you super over the bottom, it is easier for you to observe the bees and will take less time. Adding a super above the top of the existing one also makes it easier for you to see the honey.

However, you should be aware that every colony is different. The speed of growth depends on the genetics of the bees. If you notice that your colony is weaker than you’d like, it may be time to stockpile another honey super. Alternatively, you may want to consider reintroducing the colony to a new location. But don’t panic if the colony hasn’t been supered yet. If they’ve already produced a large number of combs and aren’t yet in the super, they might be vulnerable to disease or pests.

It is also important to keep in mind that bees need to build their honeycombs in an orderly manner, so you should never add a new super until they’ve completed the construction of the first one. You can also rotate your beehives into two supers if the honey flow is heavy. When you do this, be sure to check the construction of the honeycomb below the bottom box. If it is drawn correctly, the colony will be more willing to accept more space.

If you’re not sure how to construct your super, you can use a shallow box. It is easier to handle than a larger box, which can become heavy and hard to manage when it is full of honey. Honey supers are generally about five-and-a-half inches tall, but you can also use a 9-inch-deep box. But you’ll need to make sure you have enough room for your bees, because nectar is around 50 percent water, and this requires more space than honey.

Queen excluder

When installing a honey super, you need to put a queen excluder in the hive. The excluder is a grid-shaped object placed directly under the first honey super. It has large holes for worker bees and small ones for the queen. The purpose of the excluder is to keep the queen and brood in the brood chamber and prevent them from getting into the honey super. This way, you can harvest your honey with ease.

One disadvantage of the queen excluder is that it restricts the airflow through the hive, which may lead to the colony overheating during very hot days. The bare foundation can also discourage bees from drawing comb. Although a colony may draw comb on a foundationless frame, the drawback of a queen excluder is that it limits the amount of honey produced. This is because the worker bees vary in size and may not be able to fit through the gaps.

One of the main benefits of a queen excluder is that it keeps the queen out of the honey super while allowing the worker bees to pass through. Since the queen’s abdomen is much larger than that of the worker bees, the excluder prevents the queen from harming the brood or laying eggs. It also makes it easier to identify the queen and remove her when necessary. A quality queen excluder can last for several years.

A queen excluder for honey super is necessary when harvesting honey from a single hive. Once the frames are removed from the brood chamber, beekeepers place drawn comb or foundation frames on top of the honey super. They leave the queen in the brood box, but keep the excluder on top of the frame. This draws the bees through the excluder. When this process is complete, beekeepers can then extract the honey from their hives without a problem.

Checkerboard system to get bees to build comb on the foundation

Before adding a second honey super, make sure the bees have built comb on six or seven frames of the first super. Bees will store more nectar in additional space. When first adding a second super, the first few frames won’t have drawn comb, but you can still encourage them to build comb by using the checkerboard system. You’ll alternate frames of the first super with those of the second one, so the bees will be encouraged to build comb on the foundation.

The purpose of introducing the Checkerboard system is to induce the bees to build comb on the foundation of the honey super. This technique is also called “cheaterboarding” because it allows the bees to have more storage space. It also keeps the hive in the buildup phase, preventing it from swarming. You can reverse the Checkboard system as necessary during springtime.

The Checkerboard system allows you to rotate frames to encourage the bees to build comb on the foundation of the honey super. The honey in this structure is harvested as it builds on the frames. The honey from this system is safe to eat and requires no extra effort on your part. Afterward, the frames are detached one by one and the foundation replaced. If you prefer a comb honey system with a round section, you may try the Ross Rounds.

The Warre hive was invented by Emile Warre in the mid-20th century and is a vertical top-bar hive with three identical sized stacked boxes. The top bars are the foundations, and the bottom frames are the combs. Bottom-supering is an alternative method that simulates the hive’s natural environment.

Adding a honey super to a hive

Adding a second honey super to a hive is similar to adding a second brood box, but it’s much easier. This way, you won’t have to worry about exchanging frames from one super to another. All you have to do is take the first super out, add the second one to the brood box, and wait for the bees to start working on it. If you are able to wait for the bees to finish working on the first one, you can add a deeper honey super to your hive that is as deep as the brood box.

To add another super to your hive, you should check to make sure the hive has several frames that are full of honey and brood. If the hive already has a seven-frame or ten-frame super, that means the bees are ready for a second one. If it isn’t yet, add the new super when the hive’s end frames have drawn honeycomb.

When adding a honey super to your hive, it is a good idea to wait until the hive reaches 80% of its frames. Then, you can add another super at the beginning of the next spring season. If the colony isn’t yet completely full, they may need more room to collect the nectar. Building upwards and stacking boxes can help create additional space. This can be particularly beneficial if your bees suddenly grow to a large number, or when the flow of nectar is at its peak.

Adding a honey super is best done when the top brood box has eight or ten frames of foundation. By doing this, you will provide the bees with enough space to draw comb and produce honey. While you’ll still have plenty of space, you can also add another honey super before your top brood chamber box reaches seven or ten frames. Once the top box is nearly full, you’ll notice the bees begin laying eggs and removing old frames.

FAQs

What is a honey super in beekeeping?

A honey super is an additional box or chamber added to a beehive specifically for the bees to store surplus honey. It provides extra space for the bees to store honey beyond what they need for their own consumption.

When should I add a honey super to my hive?

The ideal time to add a honey super to your hive is when the bees have filled most of the frames in the brood boxes and the nectar flow is strong. This usually happens during the peak of the blooming season when there is an abundance of nectar-producing flowers available.

How do I add a honey super to my hive?

To add a honey super, place it on top of the existing brood boxes, ensuring that it is properly aligned with the frames below. Remove any queen excluder, if present, to allow the queen access to the new chamber. Provide an entrance for the bees to access the honey super and ensure that the hive is well-ventilated.

How many frames should I add to a honey super?

The number of frames to add to a honey super can vary depending on the size of your hive and local beekeeping practices. In general, a honey super can accommodate anywhere from 8 to 10 frames. Consult with experienced local beekeepers or follow regional guidelines for best practices.

Do I need to use foundation or drawn comb in the honey super?

Using foundation or drawn comb in the honey super can encourage the bees to start storing honey more quickly. The scent and texture of the comb provide a familiar environment for the bees to work on. However, some beekeepers prefer to provide foundationless frames to allow the bees to build natural comb. Choose the method that aligns with your beekeeping goals and practices.

How often should I check the honey super?

Regular inspections of the honey super are important to monitor the honey production and ensure the overall health of the hive. Depending on the nectar flow and local conditions, it is advisable to check the honey super every 1 to 2 weeks during peak honey production season.

When can I harvest honey from the honey super?

Honey can be harvested from the honey super once it is sufficiently capped. Capped honey indicates that the moisture content is low enough for long-term storage. The honey super frames should have a majority of capped cells before considering harvesting. Use a refractometer or perform a moisture content test to ensure the honey is ready for extraction.

How do I extract honey from the honey super?

To extract honey from the honey super, remove the frames and use a honey extractor to spin the honey out of the cells. Alternatively, crush and strain the honeycomb for a more natural extraction method. Ensure proper hygiene and sanitation practices to maintain the quality and purity of the harvested honey.

Should I leave the honey super on during the winter?

It is generally recommended to remove the honey super before winter to reduce the space the bees need to heat and maintain during colder months. Leave the honey super on only if it is completely filled and capped, providing enough honey stores for the bees to sustain themselves throughout the winter. Monitor the hive’s food reserves and adjust accordingly.

How can I prevent swarming when using a honey super?

To prevent swarming, ensure that the brood boxes have enough space for the queen to lay eggs and the workers to store honey. Adequate ventilation, regular inspections, and swarm management techniques such as splitting or adding more brood boxes can help alleviate overcrowding and reduce the likelihood of swarming.

How do I know if my hive is ready for a honey super?

Determining if your hive is ready for a honey super involves assessing factors such as population size, available nectar sources, and the extent to which existing brood boxes are filled. Look for signs of a strong and active colony, a thriving nectar flow, and well-drawn comb in the brood boxes as indicators that your hive is prepared for the addition of a honey super.

What are the benefits of adding a honey super to my hive?

Adding a honey super offers several benefits to both beekeepers and bees. It provides the bees with extra space to store surplus honey, reduces congestion within the brood boxes, and encourages colony growth. For beekeepers, it means the opportunity to harvest additional honey and potentially generate more revenue from their beekeeping endeavors.

Can I use foundationless frames in the honey super?

Yes, using foundationless frames in the honey super is an option. Foundationless frames allow bees to build natural comb without the presence of pre-printed foundation sheets. This method appeals to beekeepers who prioritize natural comb building and the preservation of bees’ innate instincts. However, keep in mind that foundationless frames may require more careful management to ensure proper comb alignment.

How often should I inspect the honey super for signs of honey production?

Regular inspections of the honey super are crucial to monitor honey production and prevent potential issues. During the peak nectar flow, it is recommended to inspect the honey super every one to two weeks. Look for capped honey cells, increased weight of the frames, and bees actively working in the honey super as positive indications of honey production.

Should I rotate or rearrange frames in the honey super?

Rotating or rearranging frames within the honey super can promote even honey production and prevent comb congestion. By periodically swapping frames between the brood boxes and the honey super, you encourage bees to store honey evenly across the frames, preventing excessive weight imbalances and promoting better hive management.

What can I do to protect the honey super from pests and predators?

To protect the honey super from pests and predators, consider using entrance reducers, screened bottom boards, and hive stands with legs coated in a sticky substance to deter crawling pests. Additionally, ensure the honey super has a tight-fitting lid or cover to prevent access by larger predators such as raccoons or bears.

Can I add a second honey super to the hive?

Yes, adding a second honey super, also known as “adding another honey super,” can be beneficial when the bees are producing an abundance of honey and the existing honey super is close to being filled. Assess the honey production rate and colony strength before deciding to add a second honey super, ensuring the bees have ample time to fill it before the end of the nectar flow.

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