How many hive boxes?

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Long ago when I kept bees as a hobby I never used more than one hive box.  Recently, after getting another hive to start all over again I've been reading about beekeeping on the web. Many in this forum, it seems, are indicating that they believe a strong hive will have to consist of two large hive bodies.

I'd like to know about this because I may need to get another hive body on for my one hive before winter comes.  I'm feeding them all the time  and they've almost filled out half of the hive body already.

Might they be able to make it through winter well with two large hive bodies and two honey supers?

I don't know how much they'll get around here (Coastal Georgia) in the fall in nectar flow. I know pollen comes in strong with golden rod (I think).

Beth Kirkley:
I'm also in Georgia, and was told by my father-in-law that I should only use one brood box. Then that I should use an excluder and place honey supers above that. He said that's how he used to do it, and that this is how all commercial beekeepers do it.
I shouldn't argue with an elder. :) But I do. I learned most of my beekeeping from reading on the internet, through several sites. I started my hives with one brood box, then added another, because this is what I read you should do. (I'm sorta trying to say, I don't know the RIGHT answer, but maybe things have changed.) But my father-in-law still insists I'm doing things wrong, and allowing my hive to get too big where it might swarm.
My thoughts on the matter....... Isn't a big hive good? larger numbers means it's stronger and better able to do the work needed, right? More bees, more production, more honey. Plus, a larger hive going into winter.
Anyway, I did two brood boxes because this is what I read I should do, and what I saw pictures of hives having - two large supers, then honey supers.

Now for what to expect as far as growth for this year. Like I said, I started last year, in the summer. I did get a very late start - about as late as it gets (June 27th). The bees did fine on building up to a strong two deep supers. I tried adding a third super on mid-September because they seemed ready for it. I had grand ideas of getting loads of honey in a fall harvest. :) NOT! They wouldn't even start building comb up there. I guess they had enough to do, and enough space, in just the two supers.
I did manage to get some honey at the end of winter though. I looked in on them at the end of December, and they'd hardly touched the honey stores, so I took two frames. Then at the begining of Febuary I took two more frames. It still left them with honey, and things were begining to bloom anyway.

One last bit of advice. If I had known back in the fall what I know now, I would have prepared myself. My hive grew really large by Febuary, and ended up swarming on March 15th. If I'd been smart, I would have bought more frames and built more supers over the fall and winter. I would have split the hive during the first nice week in Febuary, with a second empty brood box above. Instead - I lost the swarm and split the hive at the end of March. Then I lost a month of production and brood rearing because there apparantly wasn't any brood young enough to be made into a queen in one of the hives (one did have LUCKILY one good queen cell that hatched). I did goof in lots of ways.
So my advice - stay one step ahead of the bees, and be ready for a huge growth as soon as weather warms (in Georgia that can be January).

Sorry for the long post, but the "one super" - "two super" thing is sort of a sore spot for me. :) Even though I've had the bees for a year, my father-in-law still insists I'm doing all wrong by letting the bees raise brood in two deep supers. And I'd say between the two hives they've made 150-200 pounds of honey so far this year. I've only taken about 65 pounds of it, since the rest was on frames that were half brood/half honey.


I live in south central Mississippi.  We use 2 brood boxes on all our hives. In Early March we split all but 2 of our hives.  I think it helps them winter better and the room keeps them from wanting to put brood in the honey supers in the spring/summer.  (I don't use queen excluders) The only down side it that if you split a hive in the early spring you loose honey production.  But you always have the option to split when you have 2 hive bodies and a strong hive of course.  I am currenly in the process of switching to medium supers.  I still have about 60% shallow and 40% mediums.  My goal is to get to all medium supers.  That way I will only have to by 1 size wax for supers and 1 size for brood boxes.  We have 22 hives now and just got 2 ferrel hives. (24 total )

Thanks Beth, and RebelRx (like that Reb thing).

Beth, I used to live in Valdosta, Ga, back in the late 70s, and that's when I kept about a dozen or so hives. A friend got me start. After cutting my hair one day, he took me out into his back yard and showed me his bees. I ended up going home with three frames of bees, a home-built box, and feeder. The bees did well and during future haircuts I learned more about what I was suppose to be doing with my bees. I even got that book of books on bees, which I cannot find today, nor can I remember the title.

Anyway, today I'm living just west of I-95, near Savannah, Ga. The weather here is milder than Dallas,Tx was, where I lived for 14 yrs. There's a lot of lowland flora and the pine trees start pollenising everthing on earth in late Feb, including humans and all of their habitations. Everyone here drives around with a petina of yellow on their cars for about 3 mos. I doesn't matter if you wash your car, it will look yellow again in about 3 hrs.

I think I might try and split-off some of my hive, if it fills out the brood box before July is over. I don't mind feeding them and I'd much rather have two hives to grow come March.  Perhaps, if I had two almost full brood boxes over winter, placing a brood super on each box will give them plenty of room to expand during peak nectar-flow season. I won't get a hive that's wanting to swarm and they can grow like crazy all summer.

I'm down to just my wife and myself, now that all of my own brood are in college, so we don't need huge amounts of honey. I like honey, but this is as much about philosophy as it is about having honey to put on my English muffins at breakfast time.  :)  And thank you for your long post.

Two boxes if fairly common - you need that second super to allow for the 80 plus pounds of storage for a typical 4-5 month colder Winter, less obviously in Georgia - but you will never see that much storage of honey in a single super because of the necessary room BROOD takes up - and even though the queen stops laying in the early Fall, there isn't much nectar flow in most areas to allow for 80 pounds of honey build up THAT late in the season.


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