How to Reverse Beehive Bodies

Bees normally move upward in the hive during the winter. In early spring, the upper deep is full of bees, new brood, and food. But the lower deep hive body is mostly empty. You can help matters by reversing the top and bottom deep hive bodies. This reversing procedure enables the bees to better distribute brood, honey, pollen, fresh nectar, and water. Reversing gives them more room to move upward, which is the direction that they always want to move.

Doing so also gives you an opportunity to clean the bottom board. Follow these steps:

  1. When a mild day comes along (50 degrees Fahrenheit) with little or no wind and bright clear sunlight, open your hive using your smoker in the usual way.

  2. Place the upturned outer cover on the ground and then remove the upper deep hive body.

  3. Keep the inner cover on the deep and close the oval hole in the middle of the inner cover with a piece of wood shingle or tape.

  4. Place the deep across the edges of the outer cover, so there will be only four points of contact (you’ll squeeze fewer bees that way).

  5. Now you can see down into the lower deep that still rests on the bottom board.

    It probably is empty, but even if some inhabitants are found, lift the lower deep off the bottom board and place it crossways on the inner cover that is covering the deep you previously removed.

  6. Scrape and clean the bottom board.

    This is good opportunity to add a slatted rack, because you won't get another chance until autumn. Slatted racks help with the hive’s ventilation and can promote superior brood patterns. They also encourage the queen to lay eggs all the way to the front of the hive, because of improved ventilation and draft control.

  7. Now stand the deep body, which had been the relatively empty bottom one, on one end, placing it on the ground.

    Then place the full hive body onto the clean bottom board (or on the slatted rack, if you added one).

  8. Smoke the bees and remove the inner cover so that you can place the empty deep on top.

    Replace the inner and outer covers.

Repeat this reversal in about three to four weeks, restoring the hive to its original configuration. At that time you can put on one or more honey supers — assuming the bees are now bringing in their own food, and you have ceased feeding and medicating.

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