Thanks to anyone with experience with Flow hives getting through winter in damp, mild climates like mine.
- What are the most important steps to take for winter prep with a small-but-growing colony in a Flow Hive on the southern coast of Ireland?
- Is it better to remove the inspection tray altogether to decrease humidity and diseases that could breed in it, and what would I be risking in removing the inspection tray beyond not being able to see what’s fallen into it?
- Can you spot any corrective action I need to take now?
This is my first year minding bees and I have one smallish colony in a 8x Flow brood box. I’m on the southern coast of Ireland where it’s very wet but almost never gets close to or goes below freezing. The colony was established too late in the year to collect honey from and were successfully re-queened. They have been bringing in pollen like crazy (probably just ivy at this point but lots of other species before) and I’ve fed them about 5kg of sugar in total in a 2:1 syrup over the last month in a Ceracell top feeder. There is the occasional wasp trying to gain entry so I’ve reduced the entrance small enough for them to defend, and I’ve watched them drive off many single wasps in recent days, and set up a wasp trap about 5 metres away. I’ve watched the hive grow in number nicely since the new queen, but they still haven’t filled out the outer frames (all of which have foundation). I have done no varroa treatment yet but a nearby beekeeper has promised to loan me two strips of I think Apivar in the coming days, and I have oxalic acid and safety gear on order, and already have the gear to sublimate it for fumigation.
About once a week the inspection tray looks like this:
(ignore the styrofoam in the corner; I replaced that entrance barrier with something better.)
I have two Flow hives (one is spare this year) so I keep flipping in a clean tray with a thin layer of vegetable oil in hopes of catching a parasite. I have never spotted a single, tiny, crab-like varroa mite carcasses in the muck, but I’ve not yet treated the bees for varroa so I don’t know if a single one would have ended up in the tray anyway.
Thank you so much for your experience-based observations and suggestions!