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Are anyone else's bees building comb between the Flow frames?


#1

Just wondering if anyone else has seen their bees building comb between the frames like mine are doing?


#2

Mine have and it does not seem to have been a problem. Here’s a link to the pic I posted and some stats for my second harvest. Flow Hive Statistics

Mine is a Flow Hive Light with three Flow frames in the middle and a couple of normal Langstroths on either side. The problem I have is I need to put starter strip frames on the side ith the window if I want to observe the side of the Flow frame. Lately my girls have been bulging the edges of the flow frame into this space.


#3

Thanks @sciencemaster, I’m glad it’s not only mine doing it.

You’re doing well in the honey stakes over there too. We’ve had around 3 kilos per frame so far and as you can see from the photos they’re filling fast again and there are more flowers still to come.

I just looked at another photo taken on 3 December (below), that’s when the first signs of the between frame comb-building began. So that’s a few days after we robbed the second of the two centre frames. I just hope they don’t start putting honey into those new cells, could get messy.


#4

Could you not lift the frame out and scrape it off with hive tool? They might rebuild it, but sometimes they don’t. Just a thought. :blush:


#5

I recall Kalbarra being a bit dry when I visited a few years ago. Are you having a good season this year?

Mullumbimby where I live gets 2400mm of rain a year but it had been dry here for a couple of months. My girls are still bringing in nectar and some pollen. Yesterday we had a downpour followed by a couple of storms and today there was 170mm in the rain gauge. This will have washed out the nectar I expect but there will be another blast of flowers in a few weeks.

Dawn SD: My plan is to swap the bulging Flow frame into another hive and put a new Flow frame in its place. Then I will have a couple of weeks observations through the side window before my industrious little ladies obstruct the view by building their Langstroth combs.

I will try and take a few pics as I go.


#6

Do you think that rain ALWAYS washes out the nectar? Or could it depend on the type of flower?


#7

I’m sure you’re right. Plenty of flowers are structured to protect their nectaries but I think this honeyflow here might be from eucalypts or other large trees. These would have still been accessing subsoil moisture during the dry. They often have quite small flowers and their nectaries are exposed.

I will be watching the progress of my almost empty flow frames over the next few weeks.


#8

Since you are local to me, may I ask you from where our girls are collecting pollen right now? Just interested because my girls are returning with dark orange pollen sacs before lunch, then yellow after lunch and almost white late afternoon.
Do eucalyptus mainly provide nectar and hardly pollen?
I wish I knew a local beekeeper with some answers, because all by myself it will take years of observation to understand the bees’ relationship with plants.


#9

Oh absolutely we could @Dawn_SD . And we will, just as soon as this hot spell is over (41 C here again today). Unless of course they ignore it or start chewing away at it, in which case we’ll leave them be for now. Hopefully they won’t put honey into them now that we’ve opened up two Flow frames again for them and by the end of this month I expect the dearth will begin and they’ll get rid of those extra cells, maybe…

Sadly the hot weather today was the final straw for the Coolibah right near apiary. It’s loaded with young flower buds, but the leaves did that awful colour change that always precedes the tree dropping every single leaf before miraculously starting afresh after looking like it’s at death’s door, so I guess the buds will go along with the leaves.


#10

That would depend on your interpretation of a “few years” (my other half says that about anything up to about 10 years!!). About 4 or 5 years back we were having a drought where for about that same time frame we struggled to reach even half of our average rainfall. The past few years we’ve been back on track, reaching but I don’t think surpassing (by much if at all) the average of 350mm. It’s not a lot, but the local bush copes with it pretty well. Summer proper is the time I expect we’ll see the dearth here, maybe from mid January through to April. This is our first year beekeeping, and although we’re keen gardeners, it’s the first time we’re really taking notice of the flowering cycles.

I have rellies near you and am often amazed by the huge rainfall figures. We get excited here after a 4mm fall, lol.


#11

Webclan, I’ve sent you a private message about a local expert on pollen/nectar and how to contact him.

Jaydub. It would have been in Spring, four years ago. We drove down from Broome in our motorhome. My lovely lady took thousands of beautiful photos of wildflowers so you may not have been in drought then. I guess most places in Oz are drier than where we live so I would have a bit of bias I expect.

All of these pics are from that WA trip and some of them were actually taken in Kalbarra. WA has some absolutely amazing wildflowers.


#12

Yes @sciencemaster, the wildflower season here can be pretty special. 2011 was a good rainfall year, 415 mm, which set 2012 up for a good flowering season, the year you came through. Our bees are close to the Kalbarri National Park and we got really strong and unusual flavours in some of our spring honey.

I visited your part of the world when locals were saying they desperately needing rain to fill their withering water tanks and dams. Even during those conditions it looked positively lush compared to here.

So I’ve looked into the hive again today, they’re not chewing those extra cells out. Will just keep an eye on it for now, they don’t seem interested in putting honey into them. Maybe they thought they were running out of room before we robbed them?


#13

I didn’t scroll down through all the responses because the second response started getting off topic, but this is exactly what you want the bees to do. The flow frames allow for deeper buildout of the cells & you get more honey per cell this way! At least from what I can see in your photos. Looks perfect!


#14

We certainly want our bees to focus attention on loading up the flow frames but they appear to have built out at least one of my flow frames a little too far in parts. I will see if I can get a pic sometime this morning and post it here.

The soft early morning light makes clear photos tricky for someone of my limited photographic competence. This is the best of about 6 pics. There are about 4 golf ball sized bulges into the adjacent frame space.


#15

I’ve changed my plans a little in light of what others are suggesting and going by past experience. I’ve taken a couple of capped frames of honey from another hive and selected one with reasonably straight sides. I will carefully scrape back the uneven flow frame surface, probably doing it in situ to minimise disturbance. Then the straight , capped Langstroth will go back against the Flow frame. This will provide a guide and hopefully eliminate uneven comb building on the Flow frame.

It’s now almost 7am and light enough to take a few pics. Breakfast will wait!

The disadvantage of this course of action is I will no longer be able to see the side of the flow frame.


#16

It took quite a lot longer than I imagined to sort the girls out this morning but it’s done now. I’ve trimmed the protruding bits of comb from both of the side Flow frames and I’ve put a nice clean face of capped honey against each side. Honey was oozing out a little but not too much.

The girls got a bit agitated and I was avoiding smoke so as not to contaminate the honey in the Flow frames. I would very gently cut off some of the offending comb and then back away to let the girls settle down.

I didn’t want to waste the view through the window so I put a frame of wired foundation where I can observe it easily. I want to add some drawn comb to a couple of colonies I’m starting. I’ve just bought two lovely young queens from the Beelady Corinne Jordan https://www.facebook.com/thebeelady1/


#17

Just an update regarding the bees building comb between the Flow frames.

@jpindc - I agree, expanding the cells on the frames is ideal, however what we can see ours doing is building new cells between the frames, which takes up their bee space and isn’t channeled into the tube when the Flow cells are opened during harvesting. You can see the photos better if you click on them.

Anyway, we opened up in order to pull the frames and trim this extra comb away, but ran into problems. We could see they’ve only built this extra comb at the ends of each frame, so the bee space is not compromised throughout the rest of the box. That’s good. However it is difficult to trim this off enough down inside the box and they’ve also propolised around all the edges. In trying to take out frame# 6 it began to flex but held fast. We decided to leave it as the extra comb isn’t likely to cause any issues and we could try again when the frame is empty.

The next day #6 had a fair amount of honey in the channel. We guess the flexing must have cracked some wax inside the cells and allowed some honey to flow. We harvested the frame (we were pretty sure it was capped off and ready) but due to the strong winds and now hot (again) weather we haven’t been able to get back in to pull that frame out.

Not too fussed, the brood box is still accessible and the bees are still busy filling the frames. Frame #1 we only harvested a few weeks ago and it is fully capped off again already!

I think when we do try to remove Flow frames next time we’ll insert the key into the frame in its upright position to hold the frame rigid. If anyone has another idea I’m all ears.


#18

G’day Bob, great photos, good to see you again. I wonder if that bottom flower is from a type of Leptospermum. I notice a lot of them have flowers with petals that look like paddles.


#19

Hi Jeff. The bottom flower is a Geraldton Wax. They’re quite similar to the Leptospermum, but when you compare the stamens you see a big difference.


#20

Seems this thread has taken a bit of a turn so I feel off topic posting in response to the original question, but taking my Flow super off today for an inspection I was quite surprised at how much burr/bridge comb was built down to the box below and between the Flow frames.

There seems to be additional space at the bottom of the Flow frames where it is ‘rounded’ to aid honey flow, and as a result the bees happily fill the gaps.

Before and after cleanup: