How many brood boxes should a hive have?

Beekeeping is a relatively technical field. So, you will need to learn many terminologies and technicalities alongside the beekeeping basics, standard practices, and more. For many starting beekeepers, a new word they can commonly encounter is brood boxes and how many you really need.

Brood boxes are compartments where the queen bee and the bee broods (including eggs, larvae, and pupae) are located. This is where the queen bee lays her eggs. These brood boxes are commonly situated at the bottom of a Langstroth Hive’s stack, forming the structure’s base, where bee supers are added on top. Typically, there are only one or two brood boxes in a colony. Any further increase will only increase the stress of the colony and may even be counterproductive.

Now, let us learn more about brood boxes, their significance for the hive, and how many a hive should have.

What are broods?

beekeeper taking out a beehive

Before we proceed to the number of brood boxes required in a hive, we must first know what broods are. Basically, broods or bee broods are the collective terms for honeybees’ eggs, larvae, and pupae. 

In beekeeping, particularly in a Langstroth hive [1], the different stages of the bee brood are located at the brood frame alongside the queen bee. Aside from the various developmental stages of the honeybees, these brood frames contain bee food, like pollen, nectar, and honey [2]

However, some beekeepers and hobbyists can also use a dedicated space or box for these broods, called a brood box. 

Also read: How many bees are in a nuc? and Are hummingbirds afraid of bees?

What are brood boxes?

Unlike the brood frames used in typical Langstroth hives, a brood box is a single dedicated box or space for the broods and the queen bee. The brood box is typically situated at the bottom of the hive, then on top of it are the boxes called the super, in which the worker bees can have extra spaces to store honey [3].

The brood box will contain the queen bee. This is also where she will lay eggs and where the eggs will develop into different bee development stages. 

The brood box is isolated from the supers with a screen, allowing the worker bees to see the queen and, at the same time, allowing the queen bee to see the rest of the colony.

What is the purpose of brood boxes?

bees flying on a beehive

The brood box is a crucial space early on because it would serve as a place for egg-laying for the queen bee. So, if you own a bee hive but don’t have a brood box, your colony will be in danger since there will be no queen bee and eggs that will develop into worker bees. In effect, the colony will fail.

One common mistake of beginners in beekeeping is placing too much emphasis on the supers to get more honey. However, if you neglect the brood boxes, then the survival of the colony will be in danger.

You should also take a look at Do bees have teeth? and What is the difference between a bee and a wasp?

How many brood boxes should a hive have?

As a general rule in beekeeping, you should only have one or two brood boxes. However, though it may seem like adding more brood boxes will increase the number of bees faster, it will not be too beneficial to your hives.

If you want to add one or two more brood boxes in your existing hives, then a better way is to divide your hive into two. 

So for starters, you may begin with a single brood box and a couple of supers stacked on top. Then, as the colony increases and the space for honey begins to shrink, you can add more supers until you have five or six in total.

After that, you can add another brood box on top of it, followed by a couple more supers. However, you shouldn’t add more brood boxes because as the bee population increases, it will only prompt them to swarm.

Factors to Consider Before Adding a New Brood Box

1. What is the climate and temperature in your area?

If you’re living in cold areas, you’ll notice a steep decline in honey production as the colder weather begins to set in. This is because the honeybees focus more on survival during the late summer and early fall.

A strategy you can apply is to add a new brood box during the spring to early summer to accommodate the spike in the bee population. Then, you may remove the extra brood box when the temperature drops. You may cyclically do this.

2. Number of bees

Bees will cluster together during the winter to stay warm. So, more space does not help the bees during the colder season. In fact, it can even be dangerous for them.

3. The queen bee’s condition

Is the queen bee still productive? Because if not, then adding a new brood box will not be maximized. So it would be better to stick with only one. You may add another brood box if the queen bee is younger and lays more eggs.

To learn more about bees, you should also take a look at Do bees sting birds? and Can bees get drunk?


Beekeeping can be a technical endeavor, especially for beginners who want to try their luck with the bees. However, there are some technological know-how and terminologies that you need to learn. One of these is the importance of brood boxes in your hive.

Brood boxes are dedicated spaces that house the queen bee and the bee broods, including the eggs, larvae, and pupae. This is where the queen bee lays her eggs to ensure that the colony is appropriately populated.

For starters, you may begin with a single brood box at the bottom of the hive, then stack it with a couple of honey supers or the area where honey is stored. Then, once you reach five or six supers, you may add another brood box with a few supers.

However, you must stop with only two brood boxes because any additional brood boxes will be counterproductive for the hive. A better way to do this is if you want to add an extra brood box, you may split the colony into two.


[1] – Langstroth hive. (2022, October 22). In Wikipedia.

[2] – Bee brood. (2020, October 4). In Wikipedia.

[3] – Honey super. (2021, December 14). In Wikipedia.