After I added a frame of sugar on top of the single brood box, October 25, 2012, I figured that would do it for the winter. But at the bee meeting in January, we were advised to keep feeding into the spring. It was important because the bees would be flying more and using up the last of the honey stores…if the weather was bad, they wouldn’t be able to fly and could starve and all our efforts would be wasted. Just to make sure I ask the natural beekeeping forum. I was advised to super another box.
We opened the hive on a sunny February day, adding more sugar on top of the brood box, then added an empty box on top. Inside the empty box hung a bit of comb on two top bars that measured about 2 inches (5 cm) down. I figured the bees would come through the slits, eat the sugar which would give them energy to build more comb.
The bees came up through the slits no problem, ate at the sugar, but stopped there. They would overnight on the sugar…soon it was covered in bees. They didn’t have any desire to build on the comb slightly above their heads. Meanwhile the bees were crowding out the single brood box.
What to do??? Okay, here’s a plan…if they like the sugar so much, let’s place the sugar frame above the empty box. They’ll sniff out the sugar, climb up the comb to the sugar, and build out their comb.
We waited a few days before we realized the bees were NOT going up to the sugar and certainly NOT building up more comb. Meanwhile the bees were getting even more crowded in the brood box.
I go back to the beekeeping forum and notice that Bernhard has added some info about using ‘ladders,’ along with some very excellent photos taken with his expensive macro lens.
Should I try to buy foundation for the Warre…I don’t want to use plastic in my ‘natural’ hive, and I don’t want to use wax that might carry disease, but I do have a bit of comb left over from a failed hive last year which had swarmed late, not queened successfully and was finished off by the wasps. I piece it together.
A short video showing the steps involved…