Expanding the Brood Chamber
It has been 10 weeks since we picked up the buzzing box of bees from the honeybee farm. In that time, the hive has grown significantly! All twenty frames from the original two boxes displayed signs of honeycomb and honey as well as larvae and pupa in varying stages of growth. From our research, and conversations with other beekeepers, we realized it was important to add another box to the hive that would be dedicated to the growing brood chamber. The three boxes will exclusively be the bees’ space to collect their honey stores and help to grow and hatch their young. In about a month, hopefully the honeybees will have filled this new box about 50-60% of the way. At that point, we will add another box – known as the super – and this will be the chamber that we will collect the honey from.
Some Assembly Required
We ordered the new boxes from Dandant & Sons Beekeeping Supplies store which is the same place that we sourced our original hive from. I have read that it is very difficult for beekeepers to have matching hives and equipment, so I was hoping that by using the same vendor I might be able to keep it uniform. It was interesting to learn that even though I ordered medium boxes I noticed that the new ones were about 4 inches taller than our other boxes. We set to work on assembling the box and 10 frames with a hammer and nails.
Painted & Ready to Go
Next, we spray painted the outside of the box to keep it from getting overly weathered. It is fun to get creative with the colors!
Installing the New Box
I have noticed the last few times that I have checked on the hive that the bees were noticeably not concerned with my presence. Perhaps that will change as the season continues, and they have more to protect. I briefly lit the smoker and doused just a little smoke near the entrance to the hive.
Breaking & Entering
I couldn’t locate my hive tool so I improvised by using a butter knife to pry the inner lid cover off. The bees do great work keeping all the nooks and crannies of the hive sealed with their sticky material of choice. So much so, that it takes a little leverage and elbow grease to pry the lid open.
Filling the Frames
The first thing that we noticed when we peeled the lid off was how busy the hive has been since our last micromanaging session. All of the frames showed healthy comb building and many of the frames were filled in with the liquid gold and tiny bee larvae. This is a clear indication that the hive is ready for another box.
The Brood Chamber
The final task was to gently place the new box and frames on top and return the lid. You can see from the photo above that the new box is noticeably taller despite all three boxes being marketed as the medium size. These three boxes now constitute the brood chamber. If all goes well over the winter, the bees will have these three boxes to get them through and also be able to hit the ground running next spring. We hope to add another box in about a month which we will hopefully be able to harvest some honey from.