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Tips for Determining How Many Brood Boxes to Use in Your Hive





How Many Brood Boxes To Use In A Hive

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Proper hive setup is the first step for successful beekeeping. Because if the hive is not set up correctly, bees might not like it and swarm away. That’s why you should learn everything necessary for a perfect hive setup.

For the perfect hive setup, you should select the right number of honey supers, brood boxes, and other related stuff for your hive.

So, you probably have the question as a beginner how many brood boxes to use in a hive?

Well, the number of brood boxes you can use in a hive depends on various factors but it shouldn’t be more than 2. 

So, now you still have the question of which factors should you concern while selecting the right amount of brood boxes for your hive. That’s what I am going to clarify for you throughout this post.

If you know the advantages of a double brood box system, then it will be more helpful for you about deciding whether single or double brood box system you need.

This ultimate guide for selecting the right number of brood boxes to use in a hive is really going to be very helpful to build a healthy colony.



What Is A Brood Box?

In simple words, a brood box is a place in a beehive where the queen will leave and lay eggs. From the name, it is easy to say the brood box is the place for the broods to grow up. Usually, the brood box is separated from the supers using a screen.

The brood box is really a crucial part of a beehive. As we know each beehive has only one queen and the queen lives in the brood box. Also, the queen lays eggs in the brood box to produce the future generation and grow the colony.

The capability of identifying bree broods, and knowledge about brood development in a beehive is must necessary for a beekeeper.



Do Bees Store Honey In The Brood Box?

Yes, bees store honey in the brood box. As we know brood development which is eggs, larvae, and pupae development is done within the cell inside the brood box. The nurse bee kept honey and royal jelly to feed the broods.

So, the nurse bees during brood development regularly pour the cells with pollen and nectar to feed their new generation.



How Many Bees Are In A Brood Box?

Well, each of the frames in your brood box if completely filled will have around 5,000-7,000 bees. So, if each frame contains 6,000 bees then a 10-frame full-sized brood box will contain around 60,000 bees. The range may vary depending on the frame size and the type of bees you have.



How Many Brood Boxes Does A Hive Need?

Depending on various factors a beehive needs 1 or 2 brood boxes and not more than that. Most beekeepers are satisfied with one brood box. Some beekeepers, who want to give more space for the bees and for more honey production may put an extra brood box.


But without any proper knowledge, you shouldn’t add the second brood box. Because if you add the second brood box under the worst conditions your bees won’t like it and they will be more likely to swarm away.




How To Determine The Number Of Brood Boxes To Use In A Hive

Determining the right number of brood boxes to use in a hive is the first condition to build a healthy colony. But the question is how do we know how many brood boxes we should use in our hive?

Well, it depends on various factors like your region, the current season, the population of the hive, honey production, etc.



Geographical Region

Geographical region is the key consideration fact for selecting the right number of brood boxes for a hive. If you are living in a region where most of the time of the year is warm and not that much cold at any time. Then you can use 2 brood boxes for your hive.

But if you are living in a comparatively cold region. Where most of the time during the year is cold. Then you should stick with one brood box. Never try to think of using more than that.

Winter Beekeeping
Winter Beekeeping


Because during winter bees have a really tough time going around. They have a scarcity of food also they require to work hard to control moisture inside the hive. Because bees can’t live if the hive temperature is not within the limit.

So, adding an extra brood box under these circumstances will be worse for them. You can also help your bees during cold by placing a moisture board or using a quilt box to control extra moisture inside the hive if you want.



Current Season

You must also be serious about keeping the current season in consideration during selecting the number of brood boxes to use in your hive. If you are thinking of adding an extra brood box in your hive, it’s better to add it when they have maximum population growth.

So, you can use 2 brood boxes from spring to early autumn. But as I already told you that bees have a tough time during winter. So, you should not use the second brood box during winter.



Hive Population

Using 2 brood boxes will be helpful for an overpopulated hive. Because when the hive becomes overpopulated bees might not have enough space to live. So, they probably thinking of swarming away. Under these circumstances, you require to split your hive.

But if you don’t want to split the hive. Then adding the second brood box during this circumstance could be helpful for you to prevent swarming.

But if your both brood box become overpopulated then you can not but have to split your hive as soon as possible. Otherwise, your bees will swarm away.

If you are a commercial beekeeper, you might have a large no. of hives. If you have a double brood box system there might be overpopulation of bees. So, for an apiary having a large no. of hives, you can use a single brood box.

For an apiary having a comparatively small amount of hives 10 to 25, you can use a double brood box system. So, choose the suitable system depending on your no. of hives per apiary.



Honey Production

If you see excessive honey flow in your hive then using 2 brood boxes would be helpful. Also, if you find there are idle bees present inside your hive because of the lack of space for honey production. Then adding an extra brood box probably boost the honey production.

Increased Honey Flow


But remember if you are thinking of adding an extra brood box to increase honey flow in a weak colony then it could be worse for your hive.

So, you should determine the strength of your hive first. Then under the right conditions, you can add the second brood box to increase honey production.

Here right conditions mean when your colony is strong and there are idle bees who are capable of producing honey.



Look For The Queen

While you are thinking of using 2 brood boxes you should understand the current condition of your queen. If your queen is not strong enough then adding the extra brood box might not be helpful.

Because she might not be able to lay more eggs in the new brood box. For this situation, it’s preferred to stick with one brood box.

You can use 2 brood boxes only when the queen is strong and she requires more space to lay more eggs.



How To Use 2 Brood Box For A Weak Colony

In order to use 2 brood boxes for a weak colony first you should look for a queen brood inside the hive. If you identified there is a queen brood present inside the hive. Then place the second brood box above or below the current one. Then transfer the newly born queen with some workers and broods to the second brood box.

Don’t forget to put a screen to hide the new queen from the old one. Because the old queen doesn’t allow any other queen’s existence. When the new queen is developed then split the hive and place the second brood box in a new hive to build a strong colony.

This is how I convert my weak colony into a strong colony by using 2 brood boxes.



Artificial Swarm

Artificial swarm is a modern swarm prevention technique that most beekeepers use. I also personally like this technique as I have a large apiary and don’t have enough time to split every hive. When you have a large apiary it’s really difficult for you to split every hive under the right situation.

Artificial Swarm


You might already know that if you are not splitting your hive at the right time then you are probably going to lose your bees. That’s why when it is not possible to split every hive. Beekeepers like me like to use artificial swarms to prevent swarming.

The use of an extra empty brood box is a famous artificial swarm technique. To use the second brood box for artificial swarm you just have to place the empty brood box above or below the old one.

When your bees from the old brood box are preparing for swarm the scout bees will select the new empty brood box for their new home. So, they will swarm and start building their colony in the new brood box. You can use a swarm lure in the new brood box to enhance its attractiveness.


So, these are the actual major factors that you should keep in consideration while you are determining the number of brood boxes to use in your hive. You can go with one brood box or 2 brood boxes or even one and a half brood boxes as your hive situation demands.



Why Add A Second Brood Box?

Well, adding the second brood box can be useful to give enough space while the population of the first brood box reaches its maximum. The second brood box will be helpful to prevent swarming and also to increase honey production.

As you know one brood box can have around 6,000 bees in maximum. So, when the brood box reaches its maximum they might not have enough space to live there happily.

So, they will try to swarm away as well as the honey production rate will be decreased. So, to increase the honey production and to prevent swarming adding the second brood box will be an excellent choice.



Can You Have 2 Brood Boxes On A Flow Hive?

Yes, you can. A flow hive has a flow of honey and using 2 brood boxes will be very much helpful to collect and store the excessive flow of honey.

If your hive has only one brood box and it’s not sufficient to manage the honey production. Then using an extra brood box will be very helpful and it will also boost the production of honey.



When Should I Add Another Brood Box To My Hive?

You should add another brood box to your hive under the following circumstances.

  1. When The Hive Become Overpopulated: An overpopulated hive might not have enough space to live. So, to give them enough room you should add another brood box to your hive.
  2. During Fall Season: During the fall season bees become very angry as they become maximum in number and there is a scarcity of food. Adding an extra brood box could be helpful for them to manage the large population. But as there is a scarcity of food. You must also feed them properly during the fall season.
  3. To Harvest More Honey: If your hive has idle adult worker bees. Then adding the second brood box can force them to work and your honey production will also increase.



When Should I Remove The Second Brood Box?

First of all, during the cold season, you should get back to one brood box. Keeping the second brood box during a cold could be deadly for the colony. As you already know during cold bees have a tough time controlling the proper temperature inside the hive.

Having the second brood box will force them to work more hard to control the hive temperature. That’s why it is always recommended to remove the second brood box before winter which means in the late autumn.

If you find one of your brood boxes has got attacked by varroa mite or any other disease then to protect the other brood box you must remove the infected one.

Also, after adding the second brood box if you see any negative behavior from your hive it’s better to go back to the one brood box system.



Should I Use 3 Or More Brood Boxes?

Hell no! Using 3 or more brood boxes will force your colony to do overwork. And nobody likes doing overwork. Also, using more than 2 brood boxes means giving more than the maximum amount of space bees needed. So, your bees will totally be annoyed.

Hopefully, you know annoying your bees means you are probably going to lose them. That’s why you should stick with one or 2 brood boxes and never think of adding 3 or more brood boxes.



So, How Many Brood Boxes You Are Thinking To Use In A Hive?

We reached the conclusion part of the post. Hopefully, now you have all the necessary knowledge on selecting how many brood boxes one should use in a hive to build a healthy colony.

After considering all the conditions currently how many brood boxes are you using? Let me know in the comment section.

If you are interested to build a bee swarm trap at an absolute minimum cost (Less than 5$) then you can check this article.


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