Honey Super

A beekeeper inspecting a honey super frame of a wooden beehive

Pollen is spread by bees, which contributes to the growth of plants in the ecosystem. For humans, pollination is crucial, as it assists plants in growing the produce they consume.

As well as being useful to bees, honey and beeswax are also useful to humans in a number of ways. It is estimated that there are approximately 115,000 to 125,000 beekeepers in the United States. [1]

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    What Is a Honey Super?

    Honey supers are parts of beehives that are used to collect honey. A honey super consists of a box in which eight to ten frames are hung. These are then attached to the top of the beehive so that the bees can store their honey. 

    It is possible for the honey super to remain atop the beehive throughout the whole year, depending on the climate and the health and size of the hive. 

    During the cooler months, it is recommended to remove any excess honey supers from the hive. For beekeepers, it is best to prepare ahead of time and remove them in the fall.

    It is beneficial to remove honey supers during the winter because winter bees form clusters to conserve heat. It is more difficult for bees to maintain a healthy internal temperature when there is more empty space. 

    As a result, if the bees are too cold, they will consume more honey in order to maintain their warmth. In addition, cold air kills the brood, which is the comb cells containing eggs, pupae, and larvae laid by the queen.

    A hive typically consists of a:

    • Hive stand to keep the hive elevated off the ground.
    • Bottom board to allow bees to enter and exit.
    • Brood chamber, where the bees, including the broods, reside. This is also referred to as the hive body.
    • Queen excluder, which restricts the queen to one area so that she does not lay eggs in the super.
    • Honey super, which allows the beekeepers to easily extract honey.
    • Inner cover to provide the bees with space and ventilation.
    • Hive cover to protect the bees from harsh weather.


    The honey supers provide beekeepers with an easy means of managing their hives. A beekeeper will inspect their brood box in order to determine whether a honey super is necessary for their hive. 

    Adding a super to a hive is necessary when seven of the ten frames in the top brood box are used to store brood and honey. 

    Why Is It Called a Honey Super?

    Honey super is short for honey superstructure, referring to a structure built on top of something else. Due to its location at the top of the hive, honey supers are sometimes referred to as superiors. 

    How Does a Honey Super Work?

    A honey super will provide more space for the bees to expand as the size and needs of the colony change. Additionally, honey supers facilitate the efficient collection of honey from the hives for beekeepers. 

    Beekeepers sometimes place the queen bee in the honey super in order to attract the rest of the colony to the super. Nectar will be collected, processed, and stored in the frames of the honey super by the bees. When the honeycomb is full, the beekeeper can easily extract the honey from it.

    Foraging worker bees are responsible for collecting nectar, pollen, propolis, and water that are necessary for the colony. Propolis is the resin from plants and trees that the bees carry back to the hive on their hind legs. [2] 

    In addition to helping bees smooth rough surfaces and seal off any openings, propolis also has antimicrobial properties that can aid in treating sick bees.

    Honey super frame in a wooden container covered in bees and honeycomb
    Adding a second honey super frame after the bees have drawn about 6-7 frames is a good practice.

    Workers will forage for water, pollen, and propolis as needed, but they will continue collecting nectar until no more is available. As a result, the colony continuously needs space to store its honey, hence the honey supers. 

    In order to build a honeycomb, bees rely on the wax foundation of each frame. Each honeycomb cell is filled with honey and capped with wax once it has been filled with honey. In most cases, the bees will fill the honey super from the center outward. 

    As soon as the honey super is full, beekeepers can harvest the honey. It is important that keepers do not take all the honey, only the excess or what is in the super. Otherwise, the bees could suffer from starvation during the winter months. 

    To facilitate the extraction of honey, many beekeepers use smoke to placate the bees and force them to leave the honey super.

    What Does a Honey Super Look Like?

    Typically, honey supers are medium or shallow wooden boxes, but they can be whatever size the beekeeper desires. A honey super can be crafted or purchased from a supplier.

    Typically, shallow or medium-sized boxes are preferred over larger ones since a larger and deeper honey super can become heavy when full. 

    On average, a super will come in three sizes:

    • 9 ⅝ inches: Often used as a hive body or brood chambers.
    • 6 ⅝ inches: Most common and popular option.
    • 5 ⅝ inches: The smallest and therefore the lightest option.


    Honey supers differ only in their height, as they remain the same in width and depth. Bees do not necessarily care about the size of the hive a beekeeper chooses. Resources are stored based on location, not size. 

    A honey super typically contains honey at the top, broods in the center, and pollen at the bottom. A horizontal hive stores pollen at the front and honey at the back.

    Some beekeepers only use eight or nine frames in a honey super, depending on their desired outcome. There are some beekeepers who use all 10 frames. 

    In nine frames, the bees’ combs are extended further in order to accommodate more honey. Nine-frame spacing is achieved by using metal frame rests. There are notches in the metal frame rest that accommodate all nine frames, allowing them to be spaced perfectly apart. 

    What Are the Benefits of a Honey Super?

    A honey super has the primary benefit of maximising honey production. Honey supers are generally used for bee rearing, but they serve several purposes as well.

    The production of honey typically increases during the summer months when flowers are blooming the most. The bees, however, are only able to harvest as much as their space permits.

    Adding a honey super to a hive right before summer will allow the bees to process as much nectar as possible before winter.

    Honey supers not only provide bees with more space and therefore increase honey production, but also facilitate honey extraction for beekeepers.

    Female beekeeper at the site of a honey super frame while holding some honey
    It is important to inspect not just the honey super, but the entire hive on a regular basis. During the fall and spring, it is advisable to inspect hives every seven to ten days.

    The process of extracting honey from a beehive is not always straightforward. The beekeeper, however, can simply remove honey super frames once they are full.

    Lastly, honey supers are easier to maintain. The frames should be washed with water once all the honeycomb has been removed from them. This can be accomplished by spraying the frames clean with a hose.

    A honey super is almost essential for beehives, since it reduces overcrowding and facilitates honey collection.

    What Happens When There Isn’t Any Honey in the Honey Super?

    A strong nectar flow is necessary for the production of honey, the honey that fills the honey supers. 

    In beekeeping, a nectar flow refers to when the major sources of nectar are in bloom as well as when the weather is suitable for bees to collect nectar. Sometimes it is referred to as a honey flow.

    When the surrounding plants are not in bloom and producing nectar, bees cannot harvest. Therefore, they will not be collecting much honey for the honey super.

    In order to have a steady production of honey, the hive must also be healthy and disease-free. In order to ensure that the hive will always have a sufficient number of brood, it is critical that the queen is actively laying more eggs. 

    Honey may not be produced until the hive is fully established in some cases.

    If beekeepers are experiencing problems with honey production or insufficient honey in the honey super, they should remain patient. 

    The majority of honey supers will have no honey because of improper conditions, such as a declining population, extreme weather conditions, or insufficient nectar flow.


    [1] agmrc [2] umm.edu [3]

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