Any seasoned san francisco bay area(or world) beekeepers out there?

my dad has been a beekeeper on and off for 40 years and he says that he never adds a second brood chamber/deep. he just adds the super at the time that the deep is approx 7 out of 10 frames built out with comb. he seems to know wheat he is doing, so i don’t question his methods. he lives in northern california and has hot summers and cold winters.

i’m a new beekeeper and everything i read online and in books says to add a second brood box so that you will have a strong hive and then you can add your honey super after the second box is almost full. because i’m in the bay area the weather here is fairly mild and I don’t have frost but 1 or 2 nights per year. i am currently using and 8 frame medium brood and have the ability to add another, but i’m not sure if I should add another or just go with the super. I can’t seem to find any defining answer online.

help a newbee
ps i’ve included a photo of the gals at work!

Your Dad is unusual. :wink: Even here in SoCal, most people use 2 deep brood boxes. However, with a Flow hive, there is even more reason to do so, because it is an 8-Frame Langstroth, not a 10-Frame. Overwintering might be hard with so little space to store food.

Your Dad knows what he is doing, and he can make one box work for him. I am not saying he is wrong, but he has a method. If he can directly mentor and supervise you, it might work for you too. However, the majority of people in the US find it easier to be successful with 2 brood boxes (or more in some areas!)

If your brood box is really an 8-Frame medium, you definitely need one or two more. A medium is not big enough for all of the brood that the hive will need.

I guess I’m not following what the two things you are comparing are. Almost everyone almost everywhere will give you the rule of thumb of 80% or something close to that. When the current space is 80% in use, it’s time to add space. Before that it is not time to add space. As far as brood boxes, I would ask around and see what the local beekeepers use for a brood area and don’t add the supers (in this case, I guess a flow super) until that space is mostly (80%) in use. As dawn says, you may have to take into account 8 frame vs 10 frame.

hi michael!

Since my dad uses 10-frame boxes he told me 7/10 or 8/10ths full. Since i am using 8 frame boxes I just assumed i’d wait until I had about 5 or 6 full of built out comb.

My question that I was really confused on was to add a second brood box or go straight from my 8 frame brood to the super. I do plan to attend meetings in my area, but the next meeting is next week and I am at a point where I need to make the decision like today. Wish there was a local hotline I could call! hehe.

thanks for taking the time to help a newbee!

this community is awesome


hi dawn!

thanks so much for the info! This forum is awesome!


Hi Ryan,
If you live here in the BA then you know all about micro climates. If you are in the city then you understand mini micro climates ; -)

So asking someone in your own, or nearby, climate pocket is a good idea. Northern California is a big place. My dad runs Langs in Sacramento differently than I am trying here in the Mission District.

All that said, two broods and then a super are pretty standard with most Beeks in the BA. And with the 8 frames then for sure two.

Your dad has 10s so maybe that is enough where he is, but the volume difference between 8s and 10s is significant to the bees come late winter when stores are getting thin and nectar is a bit scarce.

I have a small swarm I am nursing along right now and there isn’t enough local forage to support them so I am feeding until we get some warm days again and good blossoming.


Hi Sara,

Omg there are so many micro climates here in the bay! Never leave home without your jkt, even on a sunny day, hehe! I live in Vallejo, but lived in SF for 7 years. Still work in the city and love it!

Anyways, I did end up putting on the 2nd brood as per your local advice! I’m sure the gals will love the extra space! Are you a member of a local club? There are a few in the bay, but none in my hood. I was thinking sebastapol, but maybe also an east bay or sf one too.

thanks again,


Reply as linked Topic

Hello, I was wondering how san francisco flow hive beekeepers winterize their hive in our SF winters. Do you keep your Flow super on over winter? Attached is my 4 box stack: bottom two are brood boxes (medium brood box is a mix of nectar/honey and brood; The top two boxes are above my queen excluder; the medium honey box and on the top is the Flow honey super. This is my first winter (although today its 75 degrees) … in your experience, have you kept the flow super on through our light winters? Did you keep the excluder in? and looking at my stack, what do you recommend? thanks.
image of my flow hive here:

1 Like

Hiya doublebee - welcome to the forum! I don’t live near you but am a fan of SF. There are definitely some beeks around there so I’m sure you’ll hear from them soon.

How long have you been keeping bees?

hello eva,
I have had hives in my yard years ago, but I was not the primary beekeeper. I have been with a single hive beginning this year, first time with a flow hive. I am primarily interested to learn if flow hive (honey) supers are kept on through winter, or drained, removed and cleaned, then put back next year. I do have a near full medium honey box that I would leave on for the bees through winter. Since this is my first SF California winter, I want to avoid the flow hive honey super having any issues: moisture, mold, honey going granular etc., that would make the mechanism difficult to clean and use.

Hopefully you’ll hear from a local flow owner to confirm. Keeping the fsuper on all year round is done in climates when the nectar flow never completely disappears, and people can just harvest as the frames fill. I guess if you have a solid period of dearth in your region it would be correct to remove it after your last harvest and keep it safe from pests etc.

Hello, I’m a new beek in East CoCo Co. I have the Flowhive 2 with a 7 frame brood box. I wasn’t sure what I should do to winter over the hive. So I did nothing. So far, so good. All the honey frames are full. I harvested 2 frames 4 weeks ago, and the girls have almost refilled them. I think the luck of a mild Winter season so far has saved me from my mistake of not removing the super. I also mindfully left most of the honey in the hive.

Part of the reason I chose to leave the hive alone and not remove the super is the hive started every small. I bought a nuc to start my bee adventure after assembling the Flowhive in May 2020. The nuc was sold as a 5 frame nuc. It turned out to be only 3 frames of bees. Thankfully in that 3 frames, there was honey, brood, queen, and pollen. Those girls work hard all season, through the heat and smoke of the Summer, drew comb on the rest of the 7 frames in the Flowhive brood box, increased the hive population. In late Fall, they started to store honey in the flow frames. Within about 1.5 weeks, the girls had the whole hive full of honey and strong in numbers. It just didn’t seem like the right thing to do to disturb that momentum.

So doublebee, I will let you know how it goes. I might have to feed the hive if there is a time with no nector. Yesterday I sat and watch the hive, the foragers all had their pollen pants full when retuning to the hive. The honey frames are all full.

Hiya 10stones and welcome :tulip:

How wonderful to see your little colony grow all summer! Your nuc of three frames of bees (with two frames of honey and pollen I presume) was typical and fortunately healthy.

Since you left your Flow super on I want to caution you, with chilly nights in your area, that bees cluster below 40F and need to move in relative unison - with the queen - upwards as they consume the stored honey in their hive. If you have your super above a queen excluder, this means that the workers may inadvertently leave the queen behind as they seek more food in colder weather as the winter progresses. On a warmer day you could probably whip the QX off without disturbing them much. However, that means your Flow super will become a brood area this spring unless you keep a close eye on things :wink:

1 Like

Thank you so much for your wisdom Eva. It has been on my mind that I need to watch as the cold weather approches. We can have a few weeks of over night temps in the 30º F range. I have a flow hypbred super that has 3 flow frames and 4? traditional frames. I might take 3 of my full flow frames out of the current super. Put then in the hydbred flow super, swamp it with the flow super on my hive and remove the QX. Come spring put the orginal flow super back on the brood box and take the frames from the hybred super to star a new hive. I can buy a queen or they may make a queen.

1 Like

Hello Eva,
I did leave my flow hive honey super on over winter this year as I have to replace my original queen twice during 2021. I somehow didnt see your question. I experienced crystalization in my flow hive super, enough that I am going to remove 3 and soak in 70 degree water in plastic tub to see if I can soften up the crystalized honey. Live and learn. Wont leave on over winter this year. I did not have any other issues. I did winterize by putting 1/2 inch homasote panel up inside roof to absorb any moisture and keep some warmth in. hope that helps. the year before I left them a medium box of honey they had access to and they ate that through the winter. Then around March April I returned the flow hive honey super on top w/ excluder.

Hi @doublebee. I am up in tiburon and trying to figure out what to do with the super. this is my first year, Put the NUC in April, added the super in June. I harvested a week ago and got about 12 lbs and didnt harvest everything. Attached is a side window photo and a top of the super. I have a medium box with existing foundation ready to add along with a different lid etc. My read on your post from last year is remove the super, take the top off and let the bees clean it and replace with a medium box. I do have deer and racoons so a little concerned where I leave the super but maybe do it early and the bees will clean up pretty quick. Any other recommendations?


I learned last year to not leave flow hive honey super on over winter. Even with our mild SF weather it’s going to crystallize. Solvable but cleaning is very much needed. Warm water tubs and open frames… I just harvested about two weeks ago. I also had a harvest in august as they filled 4 flow supers and waited on the others till late September… Yesterday I removed the super and recently started my last mite treatment for winter. In ten days I will remove treatment and close hive for winter around Nov 1. I’ve been reading up on Randy Oliver’s mite treatment calendars and that has helped my hive. I’ve been at it for 6 years and have learned along the way.

I have a deep brood on the bottom, and two mediums above. No screen. Flow honey box removed. Top medium is full of capped honey as that has been the right amount for the bees to live on thru winter til Jan late starts to warm. My middle medium has 2 full honey frames on each outside and I have left somewhat open frames in the middle above my deep bottom brood box.

My hive is very aggressive and still plowing in lots of eucalyptus around us. But I see the hive numbers dropping. I leave a little xtra room during mite treatment but I will reconsider when I open in 10-12 days. I may remove middle medium if I feel the don’t need the space going into winter.

If you have flow honey supers that are 85-90 capped you could harvest. I didn’t see if you did. I would be very surprised if your empty-ish honey supers fill and cap but if you see activity and capping… but as the weather cools all the collecting does wind down as do the bee population…if you have drone frames capped (look bigger like pencil erasures they are late and you can look at removing when you downside.

Are you part of the sfbee group in the Bay Area? Very good and interesting info.

I do not leave frame out to be cleaned as that attracts robber bees, yellow jackets / ants and is too much trouble making. Take into garage and keep away from your hive. Clean/freeze for 24 hrs and store away for spring.

I have to run. Hope this helps and answered some of your questions…

1 Like