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As we approach late summer


#1

I am new to beekeeping this year, and since we are just under 1 month away from the Autumn equinox I’m pondering a few questions that perhaps more experienced beekeepers would be kind enough to answer:

Two of my flow-frames are completely full. Of the uncapped flow-frames two are 75% full, and two are roughly 10% full. The hive is absolutely packed with bees and there is a lot of activity filling the part-filled cells. So all good :slight_smile:

We are in a mild climate in the Northern hemisphere – on average we get maybe half a dozen mild frosts per year, and a sprinkling of snow once every 4 or 5 years. Having said that the hive is currently in a site very exposed to South Westerly wind, so in mid/late October it is my intention to over-Winter the hive in a walled garden 3 miles away.

Questions:-
When the time comes do I extract ALL of the honey in the super flow-frames ?, and do I remove the super so simply leaving the brood box for over Winter ? In preparing to remove the super do I use an escape device eg Rhombus escape, to ensure as many of the bees as possible remain in the brood box, and as few as possible remain in the super ? Is the Rhombus escape the best device for a Flowhive Classic ?

On the issue of Autumn feeding, and having researched various books etc., the consensus would seem to suggest the colony needs 15-30Kg (33-66kbs) of feed. Am I correct in assuming that when they say feed, they mean syrup ? or candy ? or a combination of both ? And is this in addition to any honey that may be in the brood box ?

When I first got the flowhive I used a frame feeder, which worked very well, but does of course require the queen board to be removed, thus in Winter refilling the frame feeder would lead to significant heat-loss. I also purchased a top-feeder which is smaller, and required a spacer in order to fit under the flowhive roof. Your experiences using feeders with flowhives would be gratefully received.

Varroa: A few months ago I spotted a single mite coming from a drone cell on burr comb I’d cut out. The following week I spotted about half a dozen very much smaller mites on the bottom board, so I’ve subsequently been very attentive. But to my surprise I subsequently not seen a single mite on the bottom board ! Am I just lucky, or not very observant and need a new pair of glasses ? And do I apply a preventative treatment ‘just in case’ ?

Wasps: Having spent a few pleasant hours observing the hive I’ve not seen any evidence of robbing or wasps BUT I have spotted a wasps nest in the ground very nearby. Although wasps rate highly in my ‘least liked creatures’ I don’t generally like killing things for the sake of it. Do I make an exception this time ?

As a newbee, I welcome any comments


#2

It is up to you, but I think it is easiest if you do. I recommend getting a honey refractometer, as they are so cheap on Amazon and eBay now - under $40 in the US, and probably under 40 quid for you. :wink: If you keep the honey from each frame separate, you can test all of it. If it is under 18% water, it will not ferment and you can sell or store it as proper honey. Over 18% and you need to consider freezing it for your own use or feeding it back to the bees.

Yes, remove it and store it out of direct sunlight. Sun makes the Flow frame plastic brittle.

You can do that. There are many ways of removing bees from supers. I like bee escapes. I have had good experience with Porter bee escapes (white plastic ovals), but lots of people hate them as they are fragile and get propolised closed quickly. I also have one like this, which works well too:

You can also simply shake the bees off the frames into the hive - you will get 99% of them off once you have practice in doing it. Also, if you leave the (drained) super on its side near the hive, most of the bees will leave it by dusk. I would still shake the majority off first. :smile:

The exact amount will depend on your location. My local beekeeping club says that hives in our climate (milder than yours) need 40 lb (18kg) of honey over winter. That is 5 full deep frames or one full medium super. The 40 lb refers to stores inside the hive. If the bees have less than that when the nectar flow is over, I will need to feed them. How much to feed is a bit of an art. You can heft the box over the winter, and after a while you get a pretty good feel for when it is getting a bit too light. At that point, you should be feeding them, if you haven’t already. Or, you can buy an Arnia hive scale and use the weight from that to tell you when they need more feed! :smile: www.arnia.co.uk

You can feed with syrup if you want, especially in early Autumn. People tend to use candy when the weather is very cold. You can also use dampened granulated white sugar - Michael Bush seems to quite like that method, and the bees take it if they need it.

I don’t like frame feeders for the reasons you mentioned, plus you lose a frame space. In an 8-frame Langstroth, that is a lot of space and storage to take away from the bees. I have a top feeder like this one http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/8-Frame-Hive-Top-Feeder-w_Floats/productinfo/262/ and a bucket (pail) feeder like this one: http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/Pail-Feeder/productinfo/664/ For the bucket feeder, I put it on top of the crown board, over the central hole, then put an empty deep box on top of the crown board with the lid on top of that. Works like this:

You really need to do a formal mite count. You can use a sticky board, by that is notoriously unreliable. I like to do a sugar roll test, as it is one of the least bee-damaging methods.
http://www.tc.umn.edu/~reute001/htm-files/powder-sugar.html
Treat if your mite count indicates that you should. I would treat for more than 15 mites per 300 bees, others have different opinions… :blush:

I agree with you, if they are not bothering the bees. Make sure you reduce your entrance in the autumn though, both to keep the wasps out when you are feeding, and to keep mice from nesting in the nice cosy hive during the colder months.


#3

http://forum.honeyflow.com/t/so-i-tested-honey-and-harvested/7825/25?u=martydallas

May want to look at these post, I was in the same boat


#4

Many thanks for your detailed reply.


#5

Dawn, your response to Adrian was very helpful as I’m in a similar position – and quandary… I’ve got my flow hive box on top of a super that is on top of the brood box (so, three boxes high). The second box is fairly full with capped honey and some brood cells etc. Hive looks strong. The flow frames are about 60-75% full and capped. I treated earlier in the year with MAQStrips before I put on my flow hive box, but have recently noticed mites on the bottom board leading me to the conclusion that I probably should do another intervention before winter (we live in the Northeast and it gets cold). I wanted to try the oxalic acid drip method, but don’t want to do it while I have honey that we might want to harvest for our consumption. I’m thinking that I might drain the flow frames saving some for feeding the bees later in the winter (if necessary), removing the flow frames and then doing the treatment. Also thinking that if I remove the flow frames, any last honey production would be done in the second super filling up empty brood cells and banking more food for them for the winter? Thoughts anyone?


#6

Glad to help, thank you for the feedback.

Mites on the bottom board are an unreliable indicator. I would suggest you do a sugar roll test instead:
http://www.tc.umn.edu/~reute001/htm-files/powder-sugar.html
I would treat for more than 15 mites per 300 bees. This equates to about a 10% mite load in the colony, as only about half of the mites are phoretic and countable with this test (so if there is a 5% infestation on the bees on brood frames, there is also a hidden 5% in larvae).

My understanding is that the oxalic acid trickle is actually better done very late Fall, when the bees are clustered. If you want to treat earlier, you are probably best using a different method.

Sounds correct, providing they have space. Make sure you remove any queen excluder, otherwise the queen may be left to die if the cluster moves up into honey stores above the QX.


#7

You need to deal with the mites yesterday. The bees hatching now are the ones that are going to feed/raise the winter bees. Sick/weak bees can’t do a good job of tending/feeding the larva that are to become the overwintered bees.