Preparing Supers For Bee Hives

I’m back – yes, I went away for 2 weeks:  5 days of driving and 7 days of hiking Paria Canyon in southern Utah.

Paria Canyon, "The Narrows" Southern Utah

“The Narrows” in Paria Canyon
(the river is the trail)

Before I left I had to do my spring chores:

Clean boxes and frames that I pulled from the hives in the Spring Cleaning.
Prepare supers to put on the hives that would need them while I was gone
Put those supers on the hives

Cleaning Boxes:

Hive Tool and Bee Hive Supers to be cleans

Ready For Cleaning

I take my hive tool with the wide curved end and remove any heavy wax/propolis build up.  I don’t get obsessive about it.  I just want a somewhat tidy environment for the new frames.

Scrape both top and bottom edges of the box
Scrape the indents where the frames sit
Scrape any wax build up on the inside of the box.


Sorting Frames:

Year numbers on the edge of bee hive super frames

Numbered by Year

All frames that have been used for 5 years in honey are out of the equipment.  All frames that have done only brood for 3 years are removed as well.  Frames that have done a bit of brood, a bit of honey, get put into honey rotation.  I don’t use queen excluders, so the queen puts brood wherever she wants to in the hive.

On cleaning I, again, just scrape off any big build-ups on the bars.

Preparing Supers:

Sometimes it seems like I’m doing a beekeeper’s version of the myth of Sisyphus.  For eternity, he had to keep rolling a stone up a hill, which would then fall back down, and then he’d push it up again.  With me in the spring it’s : clean boxes and frames, store neatly, then take boxes and fill them with the frames.

Frame Placement in Supers:

Frames for bee hives, in a honey super

Frames lined up in their super
(the arrows are which way foundation faces)

Although my splits and supers are arranged differently, they get the same proportions of foundation to drawn comb – until I run out of drawn comb and go over to all foundation.  These are : 4 pieces of drawn comb.  6 pieces of foundation

The order in the boxes: (potions 1 to 10 going across the hive)

1 foundation
2 drawn comb for honey
3 foundation
4 drawn comb for brood
5 foundation

Then repeat in reverse order to the other side:
F, C, F, C, F

Placing Supers on Hives (aka The Method to the Madness)

The above will (and should) seem a bit strange.  But there’s a reason.

When I put the super on the hive I:
Remove the center foundations (5 & 6) and set aside
Move the 2 center frames from the to-be-supered hive in positions 5 & 6 in the super
Put the foundations I removed in positions 2 & 8 in the lower box
Place the super on the hive.

When I come back to check the super in 2 weeks, if the box is being drawn out and filled, I will THEN frames 1 and 2 switch places, and 9 and 10 switch places.

In effect, I am working the box as an 8-frame box until that moment.  I find it helps to keep the comb to a uniform depth as they are drawn out.

Bee hive supers prepared for the bee hives

Supers Ready For Bee Yard

Chores done – Off to hike.

Having completed all that, I jumped in my truck, drove to Utah and had a marvelous hike in one of the natural wonders of the world.  Next blog will be about that trip – I did see some bees….

That’s the news – admittedly a bit belated – from Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey.  How’s the honey flow going in your area?  Big Leaf Maples are still going here and the Cascara is about to bloom.

About Bean

I am the beekeeper at Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, near Maple Falls, Washington. My bees fly from naturally treated, antibiotic-free hives in the foothills of Mt. Baker (the second most glaciated volcano in Washington). I sell the raw honey my bees make, as well as honey produced by Washington beekeepers who are friends - the emphasis is on raw honey from naturally treated, antibiotic-free hives. I also make and sell Raw Honey Infusions (Ginger, Lavender, and Vanilla Bean; Raw Honey Infused Organic Vinegars; and Beeswas Salves. You can find me or my husband at Seattle's Fremont Market and at Bellingham's Farmers Market. When not with the bees, you'll most likely meet me up some mountain trail, pinhole camera and digital camera slung over my shoulders, and my pack goats trailing behind me.
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