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Advice please. Hive Problems: Frame bridging, no activity in super etc


#1

Hello,

My wife and I bought our flow hive a few months ago and installed a four frame Nuc from our local apiary. We checked on it and right before we left for a trip 7/8 frames were well established so we added the flow super (too early). Now a month later ( I know a bit late) I opened the hive back up and there is no activity in the super what so ever. The queen extractor had a large amount of propolis between the slots, also the top of the frames had several cups of burr comb attached. The actual frames had burr comb attaching them and we attached. I was going to separate them but have no experience on this and need to buy a frame puller as I’m still nervous to handle bees’ with just gloves. I’ve included a photo of the hive. Photo is after burr comb was removed but you can see where it was.

Thanks,

Andrew
(Kincardine, Ontario)

Side note: I did do quite a bit of research ( read: "The Beekeeper’s Handbook and “Homegrown Honey bees”) before purchasing the hive I would add so people don’t get mad.


#2

My understanding is that the frames could be closer together in the brood box - consequently more of a gap between the outside of the outer frames and the sides of the box. They can build lots of burr comb at times. I don’t believe it to be considered a problem as such. Was there any honey at all in the super?


#3

OK, I have a few comments, none of them meant to be hostile.

  1. Establishing a hive in a northern climate can be challenging. I used to keep bees in the UK, and I think that climate was gentler than yours. Expecting honey in the first year is unrealistic most of the time, unless you start early (March). Your hive started late.
  2. Your nectar flow season is likely to be short and furious. I think @BeeMoney is at a similar latitude and has had an amazing season, but it is probably almost over now. Hopefully he will comment.
  3. Did you prime the Flow super with anything? Most people need to use something. I used burr comb, and the bees were into the plastic frames within 2 days, filling them within 2 weeks, and we harvested about 2 months later. My climate is very different from yours (California), but the idea is that you have to make the Flow frames smell of the hive.
  4. One brood box is going to be a challenge for your bees surviving the winter unless you feed them very diligently. In your climate I would probably have 3 brood boxes (in mine, I have 2! :blush:), otherwise you have make up sugar syrup or fondant and the worry is always about opening the hive on bad days to see whether they have enough left.
  5. The queen “extractor” is actually an excluder. She just can’t move through it. Going from summer into fall/autumn, it is normal for bees to put propolis on everything. If the queen excluder has propolis on it, you should take your Flow super off - if they put propolis in that, it is going to be very hard to operate the mechanism next year. Plus if you leave it on, and the bees move up into the Flow super, the queen will freeze to death below the excluder.

Finally, I would suggest you join a local bee club and find a mentor in that club. They will have local knowledge and can help you learn how to lift stuck frames, etc.

Thank you for joining us here, and I hope you continue to ask questions and let us know how things go for you. :blush:


#4

Thanks so much ! I was thinking about taking the flow super off and wanted to add another brood box instead of the super before we left but they were sold out online. I never heard of scenting the super but it makes great sense. I should have been more clear with the install, it was right when the local store got there nucs, but maybe still too late.
Ill order a brood box asap and supplement them with sugar but as for the bridging between the brood frames should I just cut them out if they don’t pull out freely?

As for a local club I don’t believe there is one as we live in a rural area and I do ask the local store many questions but try not to pester them too much and they don’t seem to be fond of flow hives.

Thanks again,

Andrew


#5

What @Dan2 has said, those brood frames should be butted up hard against each other, the extra ‘bee space’ encourages the bees to build bridging comb. I would suggest on a warm sunny day pulling each frame, shaking the bees off and then with your tool, scrape down the tops of all your frames, you may need a large bread knife if they have built out the wax too far. Now is the time to resolve this before you head into a long cold winter. Don’t worry the bees will repair any unintended damage.


#6

@Andrew_Eckenswiler
The extra comb can be confronting at first for sure, but you quickly get used to messing it up on them. Not putting you off trying to find a mentor but like many things, beekeeping can be a collection of personal experiences, where you learn as you go to some extent. There wouldn’t be too many people on this forum who would put up their hand if you asked them if they know everything about keeping bees. The forum is great, as the help and suggestions here are very genuine.