Hi all, my name is Cathy, i’m brand spanking new to bees & my Flow hive. Had a local apiarist install the Nuc into our hive at our place in SA. He preferred not to use the empty frames that came with the kit & instead installed frames with a plastic infill/panel so the bees could build onto that. My question is do the bees create honeycomb & fill it with honey in the brood box? If so can it be harvested? Or is this boxes sole purpose for the breeding/growing of the colony? And then what encourages the bees to go up to the higher box & frames & fill that with honey? When I suit up & look in the rear panel/harvest shelf area & also the side viewing panels there is a heap of activity going on, so happy that all is going how its meant to for a very new colony/hive. I have been watching SO many videos online of beekeeping (both traditional & flowhive & think Im confusing the two?) Sorry, I feel silly asking this after purchasing & setting it all up, now I feel like all my research is muddled. Any advice welcomed. Thanks in advance
Hi Cathy! Congratulations on your new adventure— it is going to be filled with joy and trials, but mostly joy. The plastic frames your friend installed will work fine and the bees will fill them in with brood, pollen, and honey. That lower box is called a brood box as that is the box the queen lays in, and so my advice is to not plan on harvesting from that section. The bees will need all the resources in that box to build up and expand. You will find a lot of great videos and information in these forums, and of course don’t be shy about asking questions (and provide pictures which is always helpful when you have questions). Welcome to the club!
Hey Tim, Thank you. Im seriously excited ( I have been sitting on a milk crate ‘stalking’ my bees just watching them for hours on end!) but still a bit nervous as I don’t want to make mistakes & cause them any grief. So will they fully fill the brood box first then move up to the top box & start filling that with honey? Maybe down the track when they are settled etc do you think I could harvest 1 or 2 frames for honeycomb? Or am I barking up the wrong tree? Is that only with traditional hives??
You are definitely already a beekeeper if you are staring at them~ I do it all the time. It is crazy to others, but I find it fascinating and relaxing. Cathy, have you put both boxes on the hive right now or just the brood box? Usually when you start out with a Nuc you just use the lower box until it is mostly full, and then add the top box (the honey super). However, I’m in Southwestern Ontario Canada, and so you really should seek the advice of your apiary friends in your area for local guidance to be sure what works in your area. You might be able to harvest a frame from the brood box once it is really full for comb, but if it were me I would use the original frames that came with the flow hive and put another brood box on top of your existing one for that purpose, and importantly use a queen excluder (that plastic one that came with the flow hive) on top of the lower brood box to make sure the queen doesn’t lay eggs in the section you plan to harvest from. Doing this may delay using the honey super flow frames a bit as the bees will have another box to fill, but then you will have both comb frames and the flow frames as your season progresses. I have seen a lot of people say that you shouldn’t plan to harvest honey in your first year but I had excellent harvest in my first year this year— almost 400 pounds of honey with 2 flow hives. I loved the experience so much I have added two of the newest flow hive 8 frame hives to expand my apiary for my coming season next May/June (we are entering Winter here). Take a picture of your setup and include it— I’d love to see it. Here is a picture of mine:
Thanks Tim, that all makes perfect sense to me now. Yes I put the entire flowhive together (with honey super on top). I will just be patient & keep stalking them for a bit - We are just starting Spring here in Aus & apparently thats a perfect time of year to start a new hive. I think I want to conquer the bee world overnight but need to sit back & let them do their bee thing. Maybe if I get a second flowhive (On the cards already!!!) I can play around with that one as I will have more experience by then. Midnight here, will pop a pic of my pride n joy up tomoz. Thanks so much again
Most of us began being confused in the beginning so your ‘muddling’ is normal. A big welcome to the forum where there is lots of information already for you to view and read. Remember no question is stupid if you don’t know the answer to it…
Regard the brood box as the bees home and that any honey in it belongs to them. Having a Flow Hive has the disadvantage of producing very little bees wax worth collecting.
To produce honey comb of any quantity you would need to add a langstroth super to the hive and I wouldn’t do that in your first year. Bees like a compact hive and adding an extra super gives the bees too much area so wait till the hive has a BIG number of bees. Plastic foundation defeats the making of honey comb if your question is about ‘cut honey comb’.
There are members both for and against plastic foundation frames, but the frames that come with the flow frames with just a single nail each end of the top bar in my opinion are not well enough made and can pull apart in freeing up the frames to lift out if there is a lot of propolis, wax and a heavy frame.
Enough for you to think about for now. In your profile you might add your town/suburb for future help to give us some info about your climatic conditions.
@cathynewbee if you’ve just installed your nuc you shouldn’t have your super on yet. Wait until your brood box is about 80% full before adding the super. Having vacant space before you need increases the chances of you having problems with pests etc.
Hi Cathy, +1 remove the super until the bees have filled the brood box and are overflowing.
If you want comb honey perhaps look at the hybrid Flow super.
Get your head down into some beekeeping books to learn some invaluable basics.
Hi Cathy, to get cut honey comb you will need to add a traditional super with wax foundation frames to the hive, don’t shoot for that in the hives first year as the hive numbers wouldn’t be strong enough to build it out.
If you get to harvest some frames from the Flow Hive Super you have done pretty well.
Hi Cathy, I’m from W.A. and got my first hive last year, Autumn. Five frames came with the Queen. The lady I bought them from told me I’d need at least that many to ensure they survived the coming winter. I fed them sugar syrup during winter, and come spring the activity was incredible. So I place another box on top giving the brood lots of space. Later I placed the Flow hive on top with a Queen excluder. There was very little activity in the Flow hive for a long time, despite placing some comb between the cores. Then end of spring came, flowers everywhere, bottle brush by the ton and the bees simply went totally crazy. Even lost some to a swarm. But still got plenty. Finally activity in the Flow hive, which I understand means the brood boxes must be full. Reluctant to open things right now, don’t wish to disturb them too much now that they’re finally in the Flow hive. Stay tuned.
Thank you Peter, great advice
Hey Cathy, congrats on your new bee hive & welcome to the forum! You already got a ton of great advice, so all I wanted to add was to encourage you to try having two hives instead of just one. It might still be early enough in the season where you are but I don’t know, maybe next year. You’ll learn more than twice as much from caring for two colonies! I got two nucs very early this year, and the season was a good one for nectar flow. Both colonies built up quickly and I was able to place my Flow super on the biggest one first. Another week or so later, I put a shallow super on the other colony, with foundationless frames. Both colonies needed intensive swarm intervention including three captures which slowed overall production, but didn’t stop me from harvesting a full Flow super in July and a 3/4 full shallow super of beautiful comb honey Best of both worlds
Enjoy your new pursuit and keep us posted!!
Hi Eva, Thank you for the advice. I have so much to learn at the bee-ginning of this journey. Will keep your comments in mind for the near future. Thanks again
if you want to make cut honeycomb you can get what is called an ‘ideal’ super if you like. It has shallower frames about half as deep as the regular deep frames. You can get good cut honeycomb from these without using foundation, just using wood starter strips or strips of bees foundation. But don’t add that box until the bees are already filling the flow super. but remember: you won’t get any extra honey at all until the bees are ready- and have a surplus. Bees will not fill a flow super until they are ready and the colony is strong enough. Sometimes a colony started early int he season like this can be productive the first yer- sometimes not.
I found an ideal FL above the flow super works great, as long as there is a good flow.
There are times when the flow super is full, but not all capped yet. The bees want work to do, so adding a super above a super makes them bring in more.