Welcome back for yet another honey-soaked adventure through the hives at Glensheen! Like many beekeepers in North America, we use Langstroth style beehives. The hive is made of boxes which contain ten double sided frames. On the frames the bees make comb then fill it with honey, pollen, or brood(baby bees). The larger bottom boxes, called ‘deep supers’ or ‘brood boxes’, contain most of the colony and the colony’s queens. During an earlier hive check, added some honey supers.
The brood boxes are the home of the honey bees. As the name suggests, the main purpose of the brood box is a place for the hive to raise new bees. More specifically, it is where the queen bee lives and lays eggs. Honey supers are smaller than deeps and placed on top. Between honey supers and deeps, a queen divider is placed. The queen divider has gaps which worker bees can fit through, but the queen cannot. This means bees will only store honey, nectar, and pollen in the super.
The Queen will never lay brood in the honey supers, as she can’t get there without leaving the hive. This is important because it allows beekeepers to harvest honey without getting baby bees mixed in. For that reason, any honey in the brood boxes is left to the bees, as it is their personal stockpile of food for the day to day and winter.
In regards to our current progress with the honey supers, things haven’t gone great. When opening the supers we found hundreds of bees hanging out. No comb had been drawn anywhere, despite everyone sitting around. To help with this we moved a smaller honey super frame into the brood box. Our hope is the bees will draw out the comb, and we’ll move it back up into the supers. Once they have some comb to tend to up top the bees should naturally move up to fill out the rest of the comb.
But, Emily (Glensheen’s head gardener and beekeeper) and I have another theory. The workers are using the super as a secret break room since mom can’t get upstairs to tell them to get back to work! So we’ll bring the work to them. Hopefully next time we’ll report on honey filled supers!