How Many Brood Boxes should a Hive Have?
Setting up a new hive isn’t easy, especially for a beginner beekeeper. After buying all the necessary equipment, there’s still the question of whether you want to use all your brood boxes and supers or not.
Offering the bees a place to live is the core of beekeeping. However, if the bees aren’t satisfied with the home you’ve provided, they’ll start to swarm. Luckily, the chances of this happening can be kept to a minimum if you know how to set up the right home for your bees.
As the colony grows, its objectives and actions are going to change. There are lots of factors that can affect how your colony behaves including the temperature, the forage resources available, and the amount of honey already stored.
In order to be a successful beekeeper, you need to keep an eye on your colony; observing all the potential changes and making adjustments as needed. According to the needs of your hive, you’ll add or remove brood boxes to make sure that your bees are living happily.
What is a Brood Box?
This is the box where the queen bee and all her eggs will be present. It’s separated from the rest of the honey supers with a screen so that the worker bees can see the queen but will not be able to get into direct contact with her.
This is the brood nest where the eggs will grow and transform into larvae. After that, the larvae will become pupae, and then turn to adult bees.
What is the Importance of a Brood Box?
Some beekeepers can be mistaken believing that the amount of honey produced depends only on the number of honey supers in the hive. Although this is kind of true, the brood boxes play another significant role.
A brood box is where the queen lives. Without a brood box, your colony won’t survive because there will be no queen or eggs. If there’s no queen, the worker bees will have no reason to work. The worker bees will soon abandon the colony and move to find a new colony where they can serve a new queen.
How Many Brood Boxes Should I Use?
With brood boxes, increasing the number can actually put stress on the colony. You basically need one or two boxes to maintain your hive, but not more. If you feel that you need to add more boxes to make room for expansion, then it’s probably time to split the colony.
Expanding Your Colony
Bees need time to adjust and you should keep an eye on them to make all the necessary changes. You can start with a single brood box and add a few supers on top. Watch the bees and their honey production. When you feel that your bees are running out of space, you can add another brood box with a few supers on top.
This will give your colony room to expand as needed. You should add a maximum of five or six supers on top of the brood box.
Factors to Consider Before Adding a New Brood Box
The honey production in your colony is the reason why you should consider adding more brood boxes in the first place. Here are some of the factors that can affect your decision.
As the temperature drops, your bees will get into the efficiency mode. You’ll start to see that bees are producing less honey in late summer and early fall.
If you live in a cold climate, your supers will start to get full by the beginning of summer, and you might want to add a new brood box with extra supers to give your bees more room. As the temperature starts to decline, you can remove the new brood box because the honey production is decreasing.
If you live in a warmer climate, you might not experience these changes. You can still have your new brood box towards the fall until the temperature drops significantly.
Number of Bees
Bees need to stay warm in winter. Giving them too much space will actually harm them. They’ll have to work harder to maintain the right temperature inside the hive and this will affect the honey production. Keeping an eye on the activity of the bees is the right way to manage the productivity of the hive.
Before adding a new brood box, you need to see how the queen is keeping up with the first one. Even if your colony is growing and there’s no extra space, you shouldn’t add a new brood box if the queen isn’t doing well.
In this case, splitting the hive is the right solution. It will give your colony space to expand with a new queen which can take care of it. Older queens are usually going to face more difficulty keeping up with two brood boxes. You can add a new one; only if your queen is young and healthy.
There’s no sure way to determine the right number of brood boxes and supers for your colony. It’s all about how the colony is behaving so you need to pay attention.