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Removing Honey Suppers and reducing box numbers?

I've two hives in central Brooklyn Welly. Weather here has been appalling for my girls. First hive started as a Nuc 1 Nov. The other was a club Nuc early Dec. First one rocketed away. 2nd one was a little slower but going well. First Nuc is up to x4 3/4 boxes and the second Nuc is up to x3 full heigh boxes but only 8 frames wide.

I'm seeing mites on the bottom boards now and since the weather is so shite, and the flow has really stopped due to wind and rain, I was wondering if I should take out what honey is sensible, leave the rest for the girls and get some mite treatments in there?

Was thinking if I take the top box off the 4box hive that's probably more than enough for them for winter? Perhaps too much? And what happens to all my girls in the top box if I take one away? Do they all just squeeze in the remaining 3 boxes?

Hi Campbell, you should be

Hi Campbell, you should be sorting what boxes you are going to take off now, sort through you frames and take the ones that are capped, the bees will still bring in honey from somewhere but not as much, so they will continue to fill the frames that are not quite capped, my bees have already started to pack the top brood nest with honey, one hive has turned their top brood into a full FD honey box they will pack them selfs into the lower box over winter.

I also monitor mite levels over summer, and when the number get high I use a 4 week once a week oxalic acid treatment to knock them back, so when summer ends the hive is strong and healthy but I do put in the autum strips also, one hive I got had a huge mite problem that seemed to have built up very quickly over just 4-5 weeks, I didn't notice until I saw DFW in a lot of new bees, so I hit the varroa with MAQS which had a huge mite fall of 1000s of varroa, hopefully I got them early enough so they can build to a healthy hive before winter sets in.

Dont be worried about where the bees go when you take off honey supers, they with pack down with no problem at all.

You can also re arrange uncapped frames and capped frames by putting uncapped one in the centre of the honey boxes and have the uncapped boxes closer to the brood next so the bees can work the frames easier.

Thanks Darren. Much

Thanks Darren. Much appreciated!

The four box hive's top box is only partially full of beens and only 3 frames full of honey. 2nd from the top is all honey. So I'll take that one off. Remaining two bottom boxes are bees, brood and honey. 

Didn't manage to get down to the bottom box yesterday but it looked like it was full of brood. Had to close up due to robbing. But the box above th bottom box as only partial brood (one frame) and half a frame of drones. Have put a bee escape between the top two honey supers. So guess I'll leave it a day or two and take those boxes off Mon/Tues and put some treatment in then. 

I've never done an oxalic treatment but it looks simple enough if you've got the gear. Are they much to buy? Or does the club have one you can borrow?

Hi Campbell

Hi Campbell

No - the Club does not hire or loan oxalic acid vaporisers.

You can buy them for about $120 (plus oxalic acid crystals) from Trade Me. Club member Wayne Wild (Ph. 564-4069) can advise contact details for a local vaporiser manufacturer if required. You will also need to obtain a car or motor bike battery to provide the electrical current.



Thanks John, will investigate

Thanks John, will investigate.


Re: open half filled frames

hey Darren, have removed all my honeys supers today and treated my first hive with MAQS. The girls all piled outside on the stoop after about 20mins so it's obviously doing it's job.

Quick question though on the top, partially filled box. Half the frames were indrawn. The remaining half only partially drawn and partially filled. What do I do with those? Feed them back to them some how? Don't want to waste them. 

20min after MAQS
Hi Campbell, the bees will

Hi Campbell, the bees will move onto the landing board, it will get fumey in the hive if it's a warm of hot day, is the hive a two brood box hive or one? If it's two, you can put a empty box on top with some frames so the bees have more space to get away from the fumes, that's maybe why there were a lot of bees outside.

if you have uncapped honey frames in your hive you can feed them back to the bees for winter food by putting a hive mat (with hole) between the honey box with the uncapped frames and the top brood box, the bees will rob the nectar out and store it in the brood nest in preparation for winter, the uncapped frames may be ok to extract, you can hold the frames above the hive and shake the frame or bang it against you palm to see if the nectar rains out, if it dose fly out, the moisture content is to high to use, if it stays in the cells you can extract it with the rest of your extracted honey, the moisture content of the uncapped frames may be slightly high, but mixing it with you extracted capped frames will be fine.

make sure you don't do what I did in the weekend, that's if you have more than one hive close together, I was sorting my uncapped frames and created a robbing frenzie between three hives, it was crazy! It took 1 hour for the bees to calm down after I reduced the enterances to 1/2 inch, just another thing to watch for at this time of year when the bees are not finding much to bring home, I'm going to have to feed a few hives this year as a couple of hive have very little honey stores.

Thanks Darren, I did exactly

Thanks Darren, I did exactly that last night as the sun set. I threw on the honey super that was partially filled so they had room to move. It was a two brood boxes so an extra box atop.

But I think it was too little and too late. The girls formed a massive beard outside and stayed there all night. Quite a few fatalities. More when I came home this evening. About a hundred bees dead or dying outside the hive. Another bee keeper suggested I create a small gap at the back of the bottom box to help ventilate. So have put a couple of small honey framing nails at the back to lift it up a millimeter. 

Thanks re: the suggestion on the hive mat. I'll see if I need to do that if I don't keep the honey / nectar. There are only two full capped frames in that box and I may keep them to feed back to them - but I'm pretty confident they have good stores on.

Re: the robbing. I made the same mistake the previous weekend. FRENZY! Won't do that again!!!!

One last question if I may? My second hive started later. 1 Dec. It's full depth but only 8 frames wide. Now at 3 boxes high. The bees have distributed their stores and brood practically evenly over the 3 boxes. So no full frames of honey like the other hive - that hive as practically perfect in terms of honey stores in the top boxes with no brood.

I assume the best thing is to just leave them as is and not try and reduce them down for winter? I was endeavouring to do that with the first hive so it'd only be two boxes high and very strong.

Hi Campbell, I don't think I

Hi Campbell, I don't think I mentioned that my hive I treated with MAQS has a open mesh floor, so I didn't need to elevate the bottom box as the instructions recommmend if you don't have a full width enterance.

With your other 3 box hive, the bees will adventually move up in the hive to settle in for winter as heat rises and they prefer to be at the top, so you bees will naturally sort them selfs out, I'm not sure if it makes much difference if the bees collect there honey from below the winter cluster or above, if it was my hive, I would probably put a queen excluder between the top box and the next one down,  make sure your queen is somewhere in the lower two boxes first, then the brood with emerge in the top box above the excluder, with the excluder on the queen can't lay in there again, once all the bees emerge then you can replace the queen excluder with a hive mat with a hole so the bees can rob the remaining honey out and pack the new top brood box, then remove the box as you don't want empty boxes in hive over winter, you will need to check the honey stores before winter, depending how much honey there is in the bottom brood box, your typical two brood box hive should have the brood cluster surrounded with honey and also a 3/4 full honey box on top.

Yea both my hives have mesh

Yea both my hives have mesh bottoms too, but I've left the plastic mite board in place so I can see/check the mite drop after treatment. I think there's enough ventilation as the front is wide open and as mentioned I've chocked the back up a millimetre to let air pass out the back. 

Thanks for the advice on the 3 box hive. It'll be tricky I think as all the frames are either 1/3 brood 2/3 honey or vicer versa. But I'll try and sort frames so I have the least brood in the top box and put the excluder on. 

Didn't actually have much with the excluder earlier this season. Put it on and the bees didn't seem to function as well. That's where that half filled boxed came from. Plus some of the bees seemed to get stuck. Quite a lot actually. Anyway, I'll give it go. Seems to make good sense so much appreciated!!


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