When to add honey supers

Asked August 3, 2020, 2:14 PM EDT

I purchased 3 NUCs this year in late May. One seems to be doing very well. I put a second hive body on about a month ago and it looks like it's ready for a honey super. At what time of year is it too late to put a honey super on? Also, would it be a good idea to just put another brood box on, and then at the end of the Summer, take it back down to two boxes and switch those frames out with some empty ones in my weaker hives? I'm not really looking to harvest any honey this year. It just seems like they'll need it all for this winter. My weakest hive has just about filled up it's first brood box. Is it too late in the season to add a second and then do I leave that one on all winter? My middle hive, I added a brood box a couple of weeks ago. They haven't done much up there yet so I think they'll be busy the rest of the Summer and good to go with the two brood boxes for the Winter. Thank-you so much for your time and any insight you can provide!

Jackson County Oregon

1 Response

Congratulations on embarking on your beekeeping journey. In Oregon, the beginning of August is considered the beekeeping New Year. Do not add honey supers now. In fact, they should be removed as we do not have a fall nectar flow. We have the opposite, a nectar and pollen dearth. Mite treatments should be started in order to have healthy nurse bees in September, who will raise the bees that will live overwinter. You should still be feeding your nucs. If you would like to give the strong colony something to do, add the 3rd deep and let them draw comb and fill it with syrup that in turn you can feed to colony that is weaker.

Honey Bee Health Coalition has two great publications that you should download and read. The first is “Best Management Practices for Hive Health”. In particular read chapter 8 on honey bee nutrition. At the end is a chart for seasonal feeding. The second publication is “Tools for Varroa Management”. If you do not control the Varroa, your colonies will die. This tool will teach you how to sample for Varroa in addition to presenting information on all the current Varroa treatment options. The key is to re-test after treatment and be prepared to treat again as mite numbers can climb alarmingly this time of year.