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A few newbie questions


#1

Hi there

My wife and I are looking at getting into Bee keeping and stumbled onto the Flow hive site. I’ve been reading books and researching and just had a few questions before we ‘jump’ in. I’d appreciate any help and apologise if someone has already asked these before. (I’m in Central West, NSW, Australia).

  • Brood box - so the frames you add in here are just empty frames? ie. just a wooden frame, no wire/plastic. And the bees make their own comb?

  • Most setups i’ve seen with the flow hive just have 1 brood box and 1 super. When do you usually add more supers? What do you do if you don’t want to go any bigger?

  • Do you ever need to add more brood boxes? if so, why?

  • How do you harvest the honeycomb? Should you?

  • I’ve only got a small property ( 4 acres) do you think if i get a hive i will notice lots and lots of bees around do they normally gather together? - ie. will i notice thousands on the one tree? ( just thinking of the kids)

  • Will the Flow Hive survive 5 years? Is it hearty enough to survive Oz conditions?

  • When is the best time to get a Flow Hive? Which season?


#2

Your choice. You can go foundationless, wax foundation, wired wax or plastic. All of them work. For a new beekeeper, wired foundation or waxed plastic are the easiest to handle.

You add more supers in traditional beekeeping when your current supers are nearly full. With a Flow super, you can drain and reset at that point, but as a former traditional beekeeper, I like to keep extra supers on hand “just in case”.

If your winters are not subtropical and you have a winter chill or nectar dearth, you may need more than one brood box to provide the colony with enough food to last the winter. Your local beekeepers will be able to advise on this.

You can put a traditional super on with the Flow super if you want. Some people prefer comb honey. I don’t, but it sells well, so I like to have the option to make a few extra dollars sometimes. It doesn’t hurt the bees if you harvest the comb too, they make more wax than they need, and a lot of it gets thrown out of the hive.

Hmm, my hive is in my back yard (garden), which is probably less than 1/10th of an acre. It causes zero problems, but it all depends on selecting peaceful bees. Again, your local beekeepers can advise, but I like Italian or Cordovan lines.

Absolutely. Should be good for 10 to 20 years, but they haven’t been around long enough to be sure on the plastic. The wood will certainly last.

For you, right now. Early spring. Jump in quickly if you want to get going this season! :blush:


#3

Welcome to the site :grinning: Good to have you on board.

  • Brood box - start with a single box and let them build that out. I like double brood boxes as that lets the hive get big and powerful. Not so nice to handle but can really bring in the honey during a flow. Also, a double brood box is plenty for my bees to over winter on.

Adding supers - once your bees have built out the brood box/s its then time to add a super. I find I don’t go above four boxes as the stack gets too high to handle and I just harvest the ripe honey frames to stop the never ending growth. Also, there will be derths where they use the honey so its not quite eternal growth.

Harvesting honeycomb - I crush and strain my honey so I am continually harvesting honeycomb. Lots of people will bang on about it reducing the honey harvest as they will quote some figure, probably 8kg of honey to produce 1kg of comb. If that is the case you have to remember that a frame has less than 100g of comb so the bees can handle it quite happily. This also lets me cycle out old brood comb.

Crowds of bees - I have three large hives in our backyard. While we have a healthy population of bees they don’t travel around like a mob of bikies. They spread out over the resources and can travel quite a distance to a good flow.

Will a flow hive last five years - any hive that is sealed properly will easily last five years. Can’t comment about the frames, only time will tell but make sure they are always above a queen excluder so they don’t get clogged with cacoons.

Best time to start - spring is usually best if you can get some bees. Gives them time to build up for summer.

Hope this helps
Rob.


#4

Brood box - so the frames you add in here are just empty frames? ie. just a wooden frame, no wire/plastic. And the bees make their own comb?

As Dawn said, you have choices. If you go foundationless you need some kind of guide.
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm#combguide

Most setups i’ve seen with the flow hive just have 1 brood box and 1 super. When do you usually add more supers?

What you will have for brood and supers will depend on several things. The big one is your climate. In a cold climate most people have at least two deeps for brood or three mediums or four eight frame mediums. If you harvest frequently you could have no supers and just the flow frames.

What do you do if you don’t want to go any bigger?

It’s not what you want. It’s what the bees need. A colony grows and shrinks throughout the year. If you don’t give them enough space they will swarm. Half the bees will leave with all the honey they can carry…

Do you ever need to add more brood boxes? if so, why?

In the a cold climate a prolific queen will fill two ten frame deeps with brood at the peak of the spring buildup and they will need one of those to winter in and one for food for winter in a cold climate.

How do you harvest the honeycomb? Should you?

The idea of the flow hive is that you just drain the combs. If you want comb honey, then you need to have some frames in the supers for that.

I’ve only got a small property ( 4 acres) do you think if i get a hive i will notice lots and lots of bees around do they normally gather together? - ie. will i notice thousands on the one tree? ( just thinking of the kids)

I have raised five kids and now have five grandkids living at my house and three more at my other house. There are hives at both. I have had as many as seven while the five of mine were growing up and had as many as 50 or 60 in the backyard with the five grandkids. Only one of the grandkids and one of the kids has been stung by a bee. Several have been stung by paper wasps and yellow jackets. You occasionally notice a bee. There are a lot of them on my crabapple tree near the house. But they are all in the air. You only notice the sound.

Will the Flow Hive survive 5 years? Is it hearty enough to survive Oz conditions?

I haven’t had one that long yet… but I see no reason they won’t.

When is the best time to get a Flow Hive? Which season?

You can get a hive anytime. Spring is when you get bees…


#5

Not sure how far from you but perhaps you should consider doing something like this first?

http://forum.honeyflow.com/t/backyard-beekeeping-1-day-introduction-course-5th-november-2016-campbelltown-nsw-australia/8459


#6

Thank you everyone for your responses, that’s very helpful.

How much time do you guys spend looking after the hives?


#7

About an hour per week per hive during the spring/summer nectar flow, and about an hour per month the rest of the year. I am slow though (and my climate is warm, so I don’t have to hurry too much), many people can inspect a hive in 10 or 15 minutes. :blush:


#8

So how does one know when to add a brood box on? Is it just a matter of lifting up the Flow Super and putting a brood box ( with new frames) ontop of the existing brood box, and then the super on top of that?


#9

I would build my brood boxes before putting any supers on. Let them build up before you send the hive to work. Supers will only work if your hive is strong.

Cheers
Rob.


#10

Hi Paul, that is a really good question. First of all, you should talk to local beekeepers about whether they use one brood box or two. Many in Australia only use one, especially in the more subtropical climates. If you have cooler winters, with long periods of no nectar flow, you might find 2 brood boxes helpful. My general rule for when to add a box of any type (brood or harvesting super), is wait for the first box to have fully drawn comb on most of the frames, with 80% of that full of food stores or brood, and every frame well-covered with bees.

I do it slightly differently. As bees in natural cavities prefer to build down, I add new brood boxes underneath the existing 80% full box. The bees use them faster and seem less disrupted when I do this (I have tried both ways).

When the second brood box is 80% full, as for the first, I consider adding my Flow super on top, because I like to use a queen excluder, and you can’t put this below the brood if you use a lower entrance.


#11

Thanks everyone.

It looks like i’m able to get a hold of a NUC. I’ve watched https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvORxmvJVUQ and it seems straight forward to install.

Just wondering once you put that top on the brood box, how long do you wait before adding the Super?
And is that when i take the top off ( the wooden board witha hole in it) and replace with the queen excluder?


#12

If you go the magnifying glass at the top right of this web site, and enter the search term

when to add flow super

you will find a ton of posts answering your question! :slight_smile: The basic answer is when all of the frames have fully drawn comb and the box is 80% full of food or brood with every frame well-covered in bees. There is a lot more info in those posts though.

You put the queen excluder above the brood box, but below the Flow super. Then you put the crown board/inner cover (with a hole in it) on top of the Flow super, and put the roof back on top.