Earlier this year I lost a hive with a half-full HF super (both capped and uncapped honey). I decided to put the whole thing in my freezer until I had a new hive ready for one. A couple months ago I put it on a strong new hive I had since built up (after thawing it out in a large bag to avoid condensation). I was getting excited this last week because I was seeing capped honey almost across the entire back observation window. Was planning on extracting some this weekend. However, when I did my pre-extraction inspection yesterday, I discovered that all the old honey had been eaten or moved and I had an inverse of the normal pattern (empty cells in the middle and honey all around). Not only the honey was moved, but they had chewed the wax all the way down to the plastic (didn’t just remove the caps). I am guessing the bees decided that there was something off with the frozen and thawed wax and felt it necessary to replace. Anyone else seen this behavior? Not concerned. Disappointed… was looking forward to my first extraction but not worried - just found this interesting.
If you have empty cells in the middle, and honey around the edges, it sounds like they are making space for the queen to lay in the Flow super. How does the brood box(es) look? Are they packed full? Lots of brood or not?
They are a bit crowded. At my last inspection 2 weeks ago, there was still lots of open comb on the outside of the south outer frame. However, I suspect they were eschewing that because of the temperature (gets direct sun). Now that things are starting to cool off (low 80’s - sweater weather! ) I’ll be interested to see if they start filling those.
OK, well my bees did that with the Flow frames in spring. I actually took a couple of frames out of the middle of the top brood box (brood, so I donated them to a nucleus which could use the boost), and replaced them with new frames of foundation. The bees drew that out within a week and when the queen started laying in that, they filled the centers of the Flow frames with honey.
OK. Maybe I’ll try the same thing. I did order some mediums to put on all my hives to give them some room (and give me some more flexibility for swarm control) but maybe just an empty frame is more appropriate this late in the season.
You need to be careful about adding space at this time of year. I might just try removing one frame, rather than the 2 frames that I did. The last thing you want is a weak hive going into winter. At this time of year, that might be enough. You can always look again in a week or two, and see what effect it has had on the Flow frames. I would be very surprised if they fill them at this time of year, but it depends on how much Monsoon rain you have had, and what is still flowering.
I did a proper inspection today and got a pic of the HF pattern. When I put the super on a few months ago the (previously frozen) honey was all in the middle. Now it is all on the edges like in the picture.
But also lots of room. I have 9 frames and it’s about half/half frames full like above and partially full like here.
So… Given this, any suggestions on how to prep for a mild winter (typically between 2 and 10 nights below freezing and then only barely)? Thinking about draining what honey I can (inserting the key only a couple of inches for the first jar) and deciding to keep or use as feed depending on the water content (there is raw nectar in the middle of some of the other HF frames not shown). Then leaving the super off for the winter as is the norm. Just seems like there are a LOT of bees and I wonder if they will fit in the reduced space. I have a brand new medium that just arrive in the post. Is it safe to add this under the deep after removing the HF super going into winter?
Yes. Great idea. They probably won’t use it, but that is the least stress for them in the lowest part of the hive.