Installing a Super Duper

I just installed the very first super duper to my hive! It seems like it’ll work really well. My bees have been flourishing for the past 3 years and they’ve filled up the hive so quickly that I’ve always wanted to give them the option of a little extra space.

Corwin has experimented with all sorts of different designs to add a bit more space for the top bar hives including adding a traditional langstroth super to it. None of the designs have worked as hoped and the bees haven’t really taken to the space. One sunny spring day, he described his new thought about a design for the super duper that the bees would go for and would be easy to work with. After our conversation, I went home, found some scrap paper and then I created a model of what I thought he meant which turned out to be a bit different then how he’d envisioned it but still similar to the main idea of how it could work. Dave Sugar one of the local woodworkers who builds the hives just built this new prototype super duper custom built for my hive!

It is basically a bottomless golden mean hive with rain awnings near the bottom and is slightly smaller lengthwise then the traditional golden mean hive so that it fits perfectly in between the handles of the original hive. I’m really excited about it and I think it’ll work really well! This year I may have installed it a bit late to demonstrate it’s full potential but I definitely wanted to try it anyway and then this next spring put it on super early so that the bees realize it is there before they determine their set space for the year.

I transferred 3 nectar combs to the super duper with bees on them to encourage the bees to utilize the new space.

Adding the super duper! Before I did this, I took out the spacers and falseback to leave a little more space so that the bees would naturally climb up as they approached their honey stores. This also serves as a natural queen excluder since the queen doesn’t visit the honey stores and where the spacers are is all honey.

Looking down between the bars and through the window into the super duper. Access to main hive is through the cracks beneath the combs.

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6 Comments

Filed under Hive info

6 responses to “Installing a Super Duper

  1. Mike A

    Hi Corwin

    One aspect I love about TBH’s is the lack of excess equipment, and the fact there is so no need to have spare hive bodies sat around in storage through the winter. The super-duper looks great but there is no getting away from the fact bees like to store their excess honey above the brood nest.

    I am in the process of designing my own version of super and crown board and once its been trailed I’ll send you the details.

    best wishes
    Mike A
    (UK)

  2. Hi Mike,

    Interesting point. I’ll definitely pass it on to Corwin….

    The super duper is more extra space for them to build during the summer and the thought is that we’ll take it off in the winter and just leave them with their usual stores of honey toward the middle/back of hive and we can even replace hatched out brood comb with the honey from the super duper.

    Interesting point though…. yeah, let us know how your design works!!

    Thanks,
    Claire

  3. Funny, i just built a similar KTBH but it measures 19″ x 19″ x 12″ tall and i plan to stack it 3 tall so that the bees can travel up instead of horizontal. I’ve heard in northern climates (and i assume NYC is northern though i’m a first year keeper so not sure how “north” is defined) that bee clusters sometimes get “stuck” in KTBH’s not knowing that there are more stores further down the hive.

    Any thoughts?

    Ezra Mattehw Hug

    • Hi Erza,

      Interesting idea. Will it be angled like a top-bar hive with bars on the top or will it be more similar to a langstroth super in style? I could definitely see how the bees might not realize they have all the space because it seems like they like to keep things pretty connected and in fairly close proximity in the hive. That was my thought with the super duper, it would be close enough to the main body of the hive that the bees would be able to utilize both hive bodies with the “top” part as being more of an extension, like an arm, of the true core of the hive. If the brood nest did travel up there it would be a bit of a problem (at least for me) because my plan is to remove the super duper later in the summer/ early fall so they don’t have the excess space that they would be required to keep warm through the winter.

      Do you remember why these boxes are especially useful further north? Maybe because the heat rises and the bees are able to go up to that space to overwinter? I would think it might be a bit of a heat sink for the main hive body down below and for that reason, I could see why they would start the brood nest up there the following year.

      Good luck!
      Claire

  4. Gary Ottgen

    I am brand new to beekeeping and after reading a lot on the Internet and books I find one item I cannot get answered.
    All of the beekeepers around me who have offered to sell me nucs have said that all they have to offer is deep body frames.
    What I need to know is if I can sit a deep super on top of one end of my TBH and have the queen go down if I do not supply her with any more bars in the deep super than the ones she came with.
    I hope I have explained myself enough for you to understand my needs.
    Thanks in advance,
    Gary

    • Hi Gary,

      There are a few different ways to transfer a langstroth nuc into a top bar hive. If the top bars and top of the langstroth frames are a similar width, you can cut the bottom and sides of the frame and cut the comb to the dimentions of the top bar hive for a low stress transfer and later that year or the next year you can circulate out the lang bars with normal top bars. Another way if the lang bars don’t fit properly onto the top bar hive is that you can cut the comb off of the frame using the falseback as a guide for the size comb you need and using string attached to a stick on the bottom of the comb (so that the string doesn’t cut into the comb) you can tie each nuc comb onto the to bars toward the front of the hive for them to establish their broods nest. The last way that I can think of is to shake the bees into the hive with one or two big jolts and then to close up the hive. If there are “fanners” (bees with their buts in the air) toward the entrance of the hive then you probably have gotten the queen. You could also identify her on the frame and be sure to shake that one in extra carefully. This last way is probably the easiest to do but will only work if it is early enough in the season that the bees will have time to rebuild their entire hive with stores for the winter.
      Good luck and I hope this helps!
      Claire

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