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Adding a super for overwinter

My question is whether to add an additional traditional honey super in the following situation I’m facing.

Here’s my set up (currently Aug in Denver)
I have brood box which is below my flow super. On top of the flow super, I placed a tradition super. There is a queen excluder between the brood and flow.

The flow is ready to harvest, after which I will remove it and bring it inside for the winter. The traditional super on top is full of comb and partially full of honey.

The traditional super will then go on top of the brood box. I’m planning to treat the hive for varroa and feeding syrup with a top feeder to help the hive get through the winter.

The hive is very strong with all three boxes full of bees and also bearding.

Question: If I’m removing the flow super, should I replace it with a new tradition super (it’s the beginning of August) on top due to space needs. I don’t expect the bees to fill it with comb and honey/syrup as much as a concern for space. I’m concerned that if I add a new super it will be too much space for them over winter, and feeding them will require them to travel through a partially empty super.

Bonus Question: since the hive is so strong, should I just split the hive into two.

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Hi there, and welcome to the Flow forum! :blush:

By all means, check that the Flow super is fully capped and then harvest it the frames in 20% sections every 15 minutes or so, to avoid flooding. I wouldn’t do more than 2 frames per day, to allow the bees to clean up any drips from each session. It can take 2-4 hours to fully drain each frame, so start early enough to do it when the day is nice and warm.

Your plan sounds really great, but in view of the strength of the hive, I would suggest one little tweak. Once you have harvested the whole super, I would put it above your traditional super. As Fall approaches, bees tend to move honey down to the brood nest, so they will clean up the Flow frames and put any remaining honey (there will be some) into the traditional super. You could leave it on the hive until early next month, checking to make sure that they aren’t putting propolis (brown sticky stuff) on the frames. If you see propolis, take it off sooner. Leaving the Flow super on for a couple of weeks will give them a bit more space until the weather cools down, and the colony population shrinks to fit in your remaining two boxes. Then start feeding if they need it once you take the Flow super off.

If you don’t feel comfortable with that plan, your original plan should work fine. You can always take the extra super off in September if they haven’t done much with it. Having said that, do not feed with the Flow super on the hive, should you choose to consider my tweak - you don’t want syrup in your Flow honey for next year.

I would not split in August. It is better to go into winter with one very strong hive, than 2 weak hives. Plus getting a new queen naturally mated (in the split) at this time of year can be very unreliable.

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Great idea about keeping the flow and putting it above traditional super. As you said, it gives them
extra space until the population naturally goes down. Thanks!

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Now the inevitable follow up. Not sure what to use to treat my hive for varroa mites. I will have pulled my flow super so I’m not concerned about harvesting honey for the rest of the season. It will be mid August when I treat the hive with temperatures reaching 95F. I’d favor treating the hive once, as I prefer disturbing the hive the least. Any recommendations would be highly appreciated. Thanks!

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Dawn I would be interested in your thoughts on putting a hive mat between the super and drained flow super when it is put back on. It would encourage the movement of the honey down and may reduce the amount of propolis/wax deposit. I just don’t have experience in Nicolas climate.

I love Randy Oliver’s oxalic sponge method, and it should be great in your climate too (low humidity). You can use the forum search tool (magnifying glass icon at the upper right) to search for oxalic acid sponge. It is very easy, pretty cheap, organic and lasts for at least 6 weeks in my hives, and often up to 3 months. :blush:

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Hi @AdamMaskew, I have no experience with hive mats, so I can’t really give an informed opinion. However, I am sure that @JeffH will have some thoughts! :wink:

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Hi & thanks Dawn, I’ve only used hive mats on top of the top frames in a hive, regardless of whether it is a single brood box or a hive containing multiple boxes. I’ve never tried one between supers. However I think bees would work around them because they work above them to build comb in roof cavities.

Fascinating, thanks Dawn! From what I’m reading online. It’s basically 1:1 ratio of 40-50g of OA to glycerin. Dissolve and absorb into a couple cellulose sponges and place on top of brood box. I’m considering removing the queen excluder between the brood box and traditional honey super for the winter and place the OA between them. That will give a bit more space for the sponges and I can place the queen excluder next spring on top below the flow super. Thoughts?

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Hi @AdamMaskew, I have put the hive mat between the brood box and super. I do it for my winter pack down strategy.
Firstly when I’m emptying the super if there are uncapped cells and it leaks a bit the honey stays on the hive mat where the girls quickly clean it up without running over the brood.
And secondly I leave the super on for a few days for the bees to clean out for storage. I have found that they don’t seem to back fill above the mat.

From what I have read, Randy places the sponges between 2 brood boxes if he is running double brood. So your plan sounds good judging by his methods. That is also what I do… :wink:

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Sounds like you have a thriving colony of bees. I am new to bee keeping this year and I am also thinking about what to do over the winter.i know next spring, I will add another brood box before the swarm storm. I had a split experience where I lost a lot of bees, I will give extra space in the spring when the production is at its highest. I wouldn’t want to give them too much space to keep warm in the fall winter seasons when the queen stops laying in November.I am enjoying my first year and I just love it.

A follow up as some thoughts come to mind:

  1. I’ve never had 100% of all the cells in the flow super capped. My experience is that the longer I wait into August, the more it seems that the bees remove some of the caps, so I end up with few cells capped. It’s never more than about 2-5% of all the cells that remain uncapped when I harvest, but I’m wondering what experience others have with this situation and what they do.

  2. I’m assuming I can use this technique to clear out mites, and there will be no ill effect on my flow frames next year, as I’m keeping the flow super in place for the bees to clean up the remaining honey. So the order of operation is: 1. harvest the hive 2. treating for mites. 3. Leave flow hive on for a few weeks, then remove for winter.

Thoughts?

You ask great questions! :blush:

It is “hen’s teeth” or “rocking horse manure” to see a frame 100% capped. This is about as good as it gets for me:

In SoCal, that happens between mid-June and mid-July. After that, the bees start uncapping it and taking it down into the brood boxes.

If you are talking about Randy’s sponges, I would say yes, if they work in your climate (they should). It will take about 4 or 5 weeks for them to kill off mites in their various life-cycle stages though. Having said that, once you take the super off, the mites are toast - they need brood and live bees to reproduce, and if you keep the Flow frames in a cold shed or garage, they don’t have a prayer… :wink:

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Late to the party, but wanted to welcome you, @Nicolas_Weiser and affirm that your plan is exactly what I do at the end of the season, except that I put the inner cover between the trad super and the harvested Flow super. The Flow roof goes on top. This essentially turns the Flow super into a feeder, makes it easier to remove in case of bridge comb, and allows both circulation and some insulation during cold nights. I give the bees a day or two to clean up the Flow frames and then I remove it.

@AdamMaskew this would be the same concept you’ve pointed out re a hive mat. We just don’t use them in the US, but since learning of it here I’ve been curious to try it out. Trouble is the bees would propolize the outer covers/roofs on pretty well without an inner cover. Lots of different considerations for how to set up in different climates…

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