How Many Frames of Capped Brood is Optimum in a Double Deep During Summer?
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Tyler from Montana writes: How many frames of capped brood is the optimum in a double deep during summer?
Hi Tyler – Thanks for the great question! It may not surprise you to hear there isn’t a simple answer.
A “typical” colony comes out of winter with around 20,000 bees and, in spring, begins building up the population. A ‘typical’ colony will build-up to “around” 60,000 adult bees by mid-summer. I’m intentionally putting things in quotes because it really can vary from colony to colony. Many factors impact populations – location, nectar flows, availability of pollen, weather, health/age of the queen, genetics, and so on.
All that said, I’ll respond to your question in a couple of ways. The first (and maybe most annoying — haha) response is that the optimum number of frames of capped brood in the summer is the number of frames it will take to build up a population big enough to collect enough resources to both, (1) have enough bees going in to winter to keep a strong winter cluster, and, (2) have enough honey to keep that cluster fed through the dearth of winter. Not a very helpful response, huh?
Another way to look at it is based on averages. Where I am in Colorado, our bee season runs from around March to October. So, the dearth is from October/November to February/March. The peak of the season is around July. Around this time of year — the peak — I’m happy when I see at least enough bees to cover the 20 deep frames (approx. 60,000 bees) and at least eight of those frames are brood frames.
Returning to the factors impacting population, this can vary from hive to hive, location to location, and year to year. For example, this year our summer flow slowed down a couple of weeks ago so I would expect to see a bit of a slow down in brood rearing in my colonies if I went in them today. Additionally, I have a colony that got a late start this year because I had to re-queen them. I may only see six frames of brood in that colony if I went in there today and I’d be OK with that. Finally, I have an apiary location that has been doing really well on honey production so I might see even more frames of brood in that one since they want to maximize honey collection.
I realize I’m meandering a bit here so if you have any follow up questions at all please send them my way.
I hope this helps and wish you all the best in your beekeeping adventures!