So what is the ideal amount of supers required after installing that 1st package of bees, or for that matter, any single story honey bee dwelling? The tendency is to stack them on immediately, adding two or more (!) on top of the hive body. Now we are looking at a third floor walk up!
Honey bees ‘move up’ and will migrate to elevated supers, as if residing in their natural habitat of a vertical tree. If you pile supers on from the start, especially without a honey low, bees will randomly begin working higher up, with a frame here, a frame over there. You want focused energy.
Then there is ‘under-supering’ or ‘split-supering’. This is accomplished by placing an empty super between the hive body and (the usually packed) 1st super. The approach is often used in heavy honey flows to encourage the bees fill another super rapidly. I have seen black sage flows so intense bees will often fill these in one weeks’ time.Â Some say this method allows for shorter distance for the bees to travel.
I always top super for much less lifting! Shallows or mediums are another option if you are concerned about the weight issue. Mediums (gross weight) are near 65 pounds, while shallows top out near 25 pounds.
Suggestion: Use 9 frame castellated frame spacers-your comb will always be ideally spaces, hang perfectly and you’ll avoid the struggle to remove that tenth, little used outside frame.
Let your bees almost completely draw the frames of foundation out and really pack the hive body before adding anything on top.. You will discover a much more efficient means of managing your hives
Kelly beekeeping May 2014