Beekeeping Equipment

What are Brood Boxes?

The queen and all the eggs she lays are contained in a single-level box known as a brood box. Typically, the brood box is at the bottom of the stack so that the worker bees can see the queen and vice versa. However, there is no contact between them since there is a screen that separates them. 

One or Two Brood boxes

The key to successful hives is your brood boxes since there is no queen laying eggs without a brood box. Additionally, there is no need for workers to stick around your brood box without a queen and her eggs. The truth is, that bees will start searching for a new hive with a functioning queen after quickly abandoning a hive without a queen. 

A single box with just a couple of supers on top is an excellent option for a start and after that, you can wait and see what happens. Further, you can add one or two more supers when the bees begin running out of space. After that, you can add another brood box top and more supers on top, if you get upwards of five or six supers and the colony continues to grow. 

Consider Your Climate

Bee productivity can be influenced by quite a few factors and climate is one of them. For instance, in the summer or early autumn, you should notice that hive productivity starts slowing down especially if you live in a region where winter temperatures get pretty harsh. This is because bees start transitioning to efficiency mode due to the falling temperatures. 

bee hive brood box

It is not an easy task for those new to the hobby trying to set up virgin beehives. With all that new equipment sitting in the garage you get so wired. You might as well use everything you have in your initial set up and this is always the thought of course.

What is the right way to go? Should you use all of your supers right from the start? And what about brood boxes? How many boxes should you have?

Either using one or two brood boxes is the consensus in most regions of the world. You are probably doing your bees a disservice if you are using three or more. So, you can get back to one or two brood boxes, you would be better off splitting the large hive. 

Let us first talk about supers and brood boxes since they make up the bulk of a beehive before we get to answer all your questions. 

Amazon stocks a fantastic selection, if you are looking to buy a brood box or two. 

What is a brood box?

A single-level box that contains the queen and all of the eggs she lays is known as a brood box. Typically, the brood box is at the bottom of the stack so that the worker bees can see the queen and vice versa.

However, there is no contact between them since there is a screen that separates them, called a queen excluder

What are Supers?

Above the brood box, there are extra boxes stacked there and they are known as supers. Providing worker bees, a place to store honey is always the purpose of supers.

New beekeepers get the idea that more honey can be attained by more supers and this is where much confusion comes in. installing all your supers early could cause more trouble than worth despite it being technically true that more supers entail more honey.

A good selection of supers is sold on Amazon if you are interested in purchasing some of them.

Conditions Inside the Hive

The actual conditions inside the hive are another thing to consider. Whenever possible, bees like to be cozy and warm and therefore, they have to work harder to maintain the right temperature and CO2 volume if you give them too much space. Therefore, the growth of the hive will slow down apart from the production of honey being slowed down accordingly.

Because of this a single brood box and just two or three supers on top are better for a start. As the colony grows, you can add more supers.

Moreover, you will find managing productivity easier especially if you can figure out just the right amount of space your colonies need at various points in the season. You can add a second brood box if there is an excess in productivity since it is due to more bees.

Pay Attention to The Queen

Without observing your queen, you cannot adequately answer the question of brood boxes. One brood box is enough for the capable average queen bee.

Therefore, there may still not be a warrant for a second brood box even if your colony is outgrowing the space you provided with your supers. You should see how the queen bee is doing by checking your original brood box. Do not add a second box if she is not keeping up. 

While younger queens will be better at keeping up, there will be more than likely trouble for an older queen filling two brood boxes. Therefore, from time to time based on the age of the queen, the number of brood boxes you use may fluctuate. 

Your Harvest Schedule

bee brood box

The schedule on which to harvest honey is one last consideration. It is okay that earlier in the spring, hives with single brood boxes and just three or four supers tend to fill up with honey.

However, another brood box or mode supers are not needed during such situations. You can leave the actual structure of the hive intact while you consider harvesting honey as soon as the box fills up. 

Time for harvesting the right way may not be available to you on the other hand. To give your bees more space, you are looking to add extra supers.

Consideration for a second brood box should be considered at such time. Furthermore, all other things you have read so far should also be considered since when deciding whether or not a second brood box is appropriate, they will play a role in the decision.

To determine brood boxes and supers, there is no hard-and-fast way. Beekeeping is affected by everything from climate to food sources. Through trial and error is what you learn about your bees a lot of times.

Therefore, in the first season or two, the number of brood boxes you get may be wrong. With enough practice, you will figure out hence do not sweat. 

When To Add a Second Brood Box

Where all the main action of the bee hive takes place is the brood box since it is where the queen lays her eggs and lives. Whether to add a second brood box or not is a question every beekeeper will face at some stage as you know by now.

Additionally, the answer is not clear cut by reading this article up to here as you also know.

The number of eggs that the queen lays across a 23-day cycle determines the size of the brood box. To become a worker bee, eggs take up to 21 days. The cell has to be repaired before it can be reused after the new worker bee emerges.

In the brood box is where all of this life takes place. A queen excluder that is placed on top of the brood box is used in confining the queen to this space. The worker bees will store honey in the super boxes at the top of the hive since they are small enough to move through the queen excluder. 

Checking the frames of the brood box to see that there are fresh eggs, which indicates the queen is healthy and alive is a key part of the regular inspection of your beehive.

You know the queen is at the peak of her egg-laying powers and you will have to decide on whether to add a second brood box if you have one brood box and things are starting to look very cramped. Tin spring especially in temperate climates is when this situation is likely to arise. 

Your Options for The Brood Box

You have three options as a beekeeper and they include:

  • To maintain a single brood box
  • Adding an additional, smaller brood box (one-and-a-half)
  • An additional second brood box

There is a wide range of views from other beekeepers that you will come across when making this decision. Advice against using a second box is what many experienced beekeepers in temperate climates will give since they will say to you never to add one.

The bees treating the center parts of the super as part of the brood box can compromise the yield of their first super; hence resulting in higher pollen content. The type of hive that you use determines the number of brood boxes that you use.

The Key Consideration

While keeping the honey supers above the queen excluder so that you can harvest the honey you are trying to balance enough space in the brood box for the queen to lay eggs and for the colony to survive through winter as a beekeeper. 

Roughly 13 or 14 frames are required since about 1,200 to 1,400 eggs on average are laid by the queens each day. Many cells will be needed for pollen and honey stores and there will be also some drone bee eggs in addition to the worker bee eggs.

You will not be able to extract honey if you put too much space below the queen excluder since the bees will store it there. 

Two or One-and-a-half Brood Boxes?

brood boxes bees

While others use one deep and one super as a brood box, some beekeepers will use two deep boxes. In poor years you will have no honey to extract because of the much space below the queen excluder and this is the disadvantage of the latter while having a mix of differently sized frames that are not interchangeable is the disadvantage of the former. 

Human consumption of honey from frames in the brood box is not considered suitable. 

Moving Back down to One Brood Box

Being unsure of where your queen is in the hive is another aggravation of adding a second frame for inexperienced beekeepers. Additionally, it will be time-consuming during the inspection.

The decision about reducing the number of brood boxes back down to one will be faced by the beekeeper in temperate climates. You will also need to consider the stores that will be available for the colony to survive winter as well as finding the queen. 

Using a Second Brood Box to Catch a Swarm

If your bees are about to swarm is one time when you will need a second brood box. You can take the frame the queen is on out of the first brood box and put it in the second brood box if you can find the queen in a hive that is about to swarm.

Moving it away from the first hive containing the second brood and the young bees after adding the queen excluder and closing the hive.

Leaving just the biggest and best, you remove most of the queen cells and when the virgin queen is born, she will take control in the old brood box.

You take the old brood box and move it to the new site and put a new brood box on the old site if you cannot find the queen. You will end up with two colonies instead of losing your colony to a swarm but there are more steps involved.

The Need for a Spare Brood Box

You will learn with experience what is right for your bees as with most things in beekeeping. To manage the hives so that your colonies are successful is your role but you should always be prepared.

So that you can carry out tasks like an artificial swarm, it is a good practice to have a spare brood box. A super box will not be big enough for the purpose of an artificial swarm but you can use it as a half brood box. 

FAQ about Brood Boxes

What is a brood box used for?

The developing eggs, larvae, and pupae are housed in worker-made chambers in the brood chamber, which is typically at the bottom of the hive. The developing larvae are fed by the pollen, nectar, and honey that are stored in some of the cells in this area of the hive.

brood box for bees

Should I have 2 brood boxes?

Your queen will have room to lay as many eggs as she can with two brood boxes. This implies that you will not need to check on your hives frequently. You can only feed your brood’s sugar syrup in little amounts while using one brood box. You can administer greater doses less frequently to two people.

How long does it take bees to fill a brood box?

Brood boxes might take up to two months to fill with a package of bees. This is a reasonable expectation, and depending on the local climate, your bees might fill it sooner or later. Additionally, a package of bees’ population will gradually decline for three weeks until the first batch of new brood appears.

Should I add a brood box or honey super?

When the brood box contains roughly six out of the eight frames with bees and brood as well as stored nectar, a honey super is typically added. Approximately eight out of 10 frames in a ten-frame hive should include bees and brood, according to experts. 80% of the brood box should be filled, on average.

Can I use a super as a brood box?

Yes, you can use a super as a brood box.

Worker bees will store nectar from a large nectar flow in the cells of the brood nest, where it is later turned into honey. The hive might be honey-bound if more pollen or nectar-filled cells than brood are present.

How many frames of brood should a hive have?

For legitimate reasons, the majority of beekeepers appear to prefer utilizing 10 frames in the brood boxes. Ten frames give the brood nest more room, which makes sense because having additional wide places for rearing brood is really of little advantage.

How often should I check my brood box?

An examination every seven to ten days in the spring and summer is a suitable goal for new beekeepers. Your bees will be angry if you inspect more frequently than once a week because it will stop their work and set them back a day. The optimal day for inspection is dry, relatively warm, and above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is brood honey edible?

The larvae and pupae of honey bee drones, or broods, have considerable promise as a food source. Many nations, like Mexico, Thailand, and Australia, already consume it as a delicacy.

It is a versatile component used in soups and egg dishes. It has a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture when eaten, cooked, or dried.

Should I reverse brood boxes?

The bees will descend in the spring and summer as the nest grows and the weather warms. As long as the entire brood box nest is in one box, you can turn the hive bodies around. The nest usually crosses more than one box, which is a concern.

What do I do with old brood frames?

For the colony’s health, rotating brood frames are regarded as good beekeeping practice. It is advised to replace them every two to five years. Starting in the spring is a perfect time to replace worn-out brood frames with new ones, which can be done quickly while performing a brood box inspection.

how many brood boxes per hive

Can you eat brood comb?

You might like eating brood honeycomb if you are used to eating comb, honey. It appears to have a very different flavor than the light honeycomb. This dark comb honey is regarded more than other varieties of honey in several regions of the world.

When can I remove the second brood box?

Remove the bottom box after keeping them on double till spring. Just change a few frames if there is any brood present. Please refrain from removing the top one at this time. The stores will be located there.

Do bees reuse brood comb?

It is likely okay to reuse brood combs that are in good condition if you know your bees perished from malnutrition or cold, even if they are moldy, or still include some adult bees that have died. It is dangerous to reuse combs that have dead larvae in the cells.

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