In their first year your new bees should fill two full deeps in order to make it through the Winter. If they have plenty of nectar available they may expand into a third deep or beyond in the course of the Summer. It is good to always be prepared with another box and frames so that you can prevent swarming for lack of space if your bees store a lot quickly.
Pre-Order Equipment for Your Bees
For bee customers, we will be pre-ordering Mann Lake equipment and are happy to assemble and paint (if required) the equipment for pickup with your bees. You can find our suggested setups below. If purchasing a 2 deep configuration you might consider adding another deep or a couple of supers now or at a later date.
Complete Bee Hive Packages – Recommended
We primarily use deep boxes for brood and honey so that we can use the extra drawn comb after extraction for new colonies in Spring. We suggest planning for 2 full deeps for overwintering, and another deep or two shallow supers for honey. We suggest a third deep because while you shouldn’t plan on a honey harvest your first year, your bees may expand quickly with sufficient forage. Most of our 2019 splits expanded to 3 and 4 deeps throughout the course of their first summer.
A slatted rack provides extra vertical space between the bottom board and the bottom brood box, with slats that run parallel to the frames in your hive, so that the bees do not fill it with comb. A slatted rack helps a colony maintain an ideal temperature year-round, with space inside the hive for fanning bees inside the hive, who would otherwise beard. They also reduce drafts, while allowing ventilation through the screened bottom board in Winter. In Spring, the slatted rack allows the queen to lay lower in the bottom frames, giving her more space and reducing the urge to swarm in Spring. A slatted rack also helps with varroa control in combination with a screened bottom board, since mites groomed off by the bees cannot jump far enough to get back to the frames. It’s an essential component on every hive we manage.
Screened Bottom Board
A screened bottom board, also known as a varroa trap, has open screen on the bottom with a slot for a tray, used for varroa counts. Except for varroa monitoring we keep the screened bottom boards open year-round for ventilation. (Read more about our overwintering process here…) Combined with a slatted rack, a screened bottom board is an effective non-chemical means of helping your bees fight varroa, since mites that are removed from bees and brood cannot climb back into the hive. We also enjoy screened bottom boards for Winter inspections of our colonies, in combination with our bee benches. We use a phone camera in selfie mode to look right up into the hives.