comb honey

Section supers will make you awesome quality comb honey

Instead of building honeycomb in long rectangular frames, honey bees can be encouraged to build comb in small sections. These small sections are usually square or round. In the photo below the square sections are about 4 inches on a side and the rounds are 4 inches across, so the area of the squares is about 16 square inches and the area of the rounds is about 12.5 square inches.

A square section and a round section. They were harvested at different times of the year so the honey is different colors.

Both square and round sections are put in frames that have the same orientation as a regular frame. In other words, the frames are parallel to each other and run along the length of the super. The frames for each type hold four sections. As you can see in the photos below the wooden frames hold four square sections and the plastic frames hold four round sections. The geometry is similar to a regular frame that holds foundation.

This frame holds four square sections. The propolis stains can be avoided by painting the section boxes with paraffin before putting them in the hive.
This frame holds four round sections. The plastic disks prevent burr comb and cross bracing.

Section supers

These frames fit into specially designed supers called “section supers”—basically these are just supers sized to hold sections. As you can see in the photo below, a section super designed for squares can hold seven frames of four sections—28 altogether. A section super designed for rounds can hold eight rows of four sections—32 altogether.

This section super holds seven rows of four sections.
The Ross Round super holds eight rows of four sections.

There is extra space in both types of section super because the dimensions of a Langstroth hive are a little bigger than the size of the frames allow, but not big enough to hold another whole frame. This extra space is taken up with a follower board and springs. The board and springs keep the sections tight within the box. They also maintain “bee space” between the frames, keeping propolis and burr comb to a minimum.

Honey Bee Suite


    • Chris,

      Price. I’ve seen 12-oz square sections go for $27. I’ve seen rounds go for $15. Multiply $15 x 32 and get $480/super. These are gourmet shop prices, but people are willing to pay a huge premium for honey that is not processed in any way. You just take the sections out of the super and drop them in a box. It’s one of the few foods people can buy that is virtually untouched by other humans. Plus, non-beekeepers are fascinated by the whole idea of honey in the comb. Sections are ridiculously easy to sell.

    • Nick,

      You can’t see it in the picture, but the sections are split down the middle. You use one long, continuous piece of foundation for the entire frame of four. After the sections are finished, you just trim away any excess foundation with a knife. I plan to show how this works in a future post.

    • Toby,

      For various reasons I prefer the wooden sections. I am planning to do a in-depth series on comb honey very soon, but for now I’ll just say that I try to keep plastic out of my hives and all the plastic parts of the Ross Round system turns me off to it.

  • Dear Blog Readers,

    My name is Lucy Padula and I am a student in FIU’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication. I am currently taking a Communication Research course in which I work with my peers on a research project focused on environmental/green communication in the blogosphere.

    I would greatly appreciate your sharing with me and my classmates your opinions on various topics related to your blogging experience by filling out an online survey. As we want to learn about blog readers too, I would ask you to kindly distribute the survey link to your automated mailing list and/or post it on your blog.

    I am graded on the amount of surveys am able to receive from bloggers and their readers so you would be helping me greatly by completing this survey.

    The survey will take you no longer than 15 minutes to complete and you can access it through the link below:

    This survey is anonymous and does not require any identifying information.

    I really appreciate your cooperation and efforts and look forward to get your insights and ideas.

    Lucy Padula

    School of Journalism & Mass Communication
    Florida International University

  • Thanks for posting this explanation, and yes, the pictures made all the difference.

    So basically “sections” are used for creating comb honey that’s easily sold. But how is it sold? Do you sell the wood along with the comb in it, or do you carve out the comb (sounds like the former). If it’s with the wood, that means replacing the wood after the harvest, and I’d guess that where part of the expense comes from.



    • Yes, you just drop the wooden sections in a cardboard box—or the round sections in a plastic box—and sell it. You never touch the honeycomb in any way, which is way people like it so much.

      • As I’m planning on giving away some comb honey this fall, I’d like to give these section supers a try (your post on using dental floss instead of a knife on regular frames was brilliant). I’ve done 5 min of Googling, and I can’t seem to find a wooden (non-plastic) supplier. Rather than build them myself, do you have a reference for a company in the States?



  • Hi, Rusty,

    Don’t the bees build bridge comb in the corners next to the round sections?

    Do you have a specific post on plastic vs wax foundation? I have to demonstrate wiring frames for wax at our club in April. Our senior beekeeper is always preaching plastic, and we have half a dozen beginners who are undecided so it should be lively 😉 Thanks!

    • Nan,

      Any bridge comb is easy to scrape off with a knife.

      You know, I’ve been going to write about plastic for a long time; it’s the major reason I don’t like Ross Rounds. In any case, this quote is from my post called “Extracted honey vs comb honey“:

      “This is a personal preference, of course, but I try to keep plastic out of my hives altogether. Plastic off-gases in the heat and can impart odd “plasticky” flavors to foods, especially high-acid foods like honey. Some people can taste this and others can’t but, in any case, I strive to keep my honey away from plastic.

  • I’m interested in building a section super, but I’m having trouble finding any real information. Any help would be most appreciated. My grandfather kept bees long before I was born and according to my dad he used a section super. I would like to give it a go. Thank you

    • Michael,

      Last year a friend built a section super with sections for me. I tested it last spring and it worked! I’m preparing to post about, with photos, hopefully within the next couple of weeks.

  • Hi Rusty,
    As a new beekeeper here in the Pacific Northwest, (Vancouver Island), I just wanted to say “Thank you” for all your detailed blogs and for sharing your wisdom and experiences. It really has helped guide me along in this fascinating hobby. I’m happily retired and enjoy sharing bee stories and their honey. Each of your blogs are most interesting and very much appreciated. Thank you again!! ????

  • Hi Rusty,

    I read your articles on section supers and decided to give it a try. We got the boxes off of Etsy, and I loaded up an 8 frame with 32 sections. The boxes, in our configuration, being packed in, were extremely difficult to get apart after the propolis work the bees did. I’m wondering if the paraffin wax painting you mention might make them easier to pull apart in the end. I’ve been thinking of methods to make it easier for harvesting. Thanks for your awesome website and great articles!

    • Mike,

      I’m always happy to hear people are still making comb honey. I don’t know how the paraffin painting would work for that particular problem, but I think it’s worth a try. If you try it, let me know how it works.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.