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Brood in flow frames really a problem?


#1

Being part of several different beekeeping groups and talking to local beekeepers around me (midwest United States), I have learned that the norm around me for hive setup includes using either two or three deeps for brood chambers and then supering WITHOUT a queen excluder. Most people around me actually call them “honey excluders”. Of course, most of these folks are beeks who are not currently using flow frames. These folks would also say that they are not in the least worried about the queen laying in the honey supers as they simply wait for brood to hatch out…“the queen will move back down and then the bees will clean out the cells and turn them back into honey cells anyway” they say. That leads to my question: So long as you know that you are queen-right, is it really a big deal if the queen does a little laying in the flow frames? I get the impression that when this takes place, one MUST go through the arduous process of cleaning them out etc. However, if I understand correctly, the bees will do this cleaning process themselves before turning the cells back into honey cells. Is there something about flow frames that REQUIRES this cleaning process? It seems to me that using the queen excluder is more necessary for those who insist on restricting queens to single deeps and those who don’t want to examine frames before harvesting. Am I missing something here??? If queen excluders slow down Honey production (which they do) and either injure or exclude larger worker bees trying to help with honey storage (which they do), then I feel like I would need a very good reason why I should plan on using them…thanks for the input!!!


Add the super without the queen excluder
#2

They polish the interior and re-wax it if needed, but they do not remove the cocoons. Remaining cocoons will seriously disrupt the downward flow of honey though the split cells and likely cause a huge leak into the hive. Totally NOT recommended. :blush: Also the larval poop outside the cocoon will likely end up in any honey drained from the hive. This is not a problem if you are spinning, as the honey is inside the clean part, and the cr@p is trapped outside the cocoon. However, if you crush and strain, or use the Flow mechanism, you are eating processed gut contents in your honey. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

If that is seriously your main concern, may I suggest an additional upper entrance during a nectar flow?


#3

I run all of my flow hives with no excluders. I have had no issues. But I also have 20% or so drone comb in the brood chambers and I think that contributes to the queen not wanting to find somewhere else to lay drones. The Flow frames are too deep and not the right diameter to be attractive to a queen to lay in UNLESS she is desperate to lay drones and there is nowhere else available…


#4

Thanks for the input, my friend. May I ask how many flow hives you have? How many seasons have you used them? How many brood chambers do you run?


#5

On Kangaroo Island in South Australia where I live, some people use excluders and some don’t, this is with langstroth hives.
My mentor said that he did testing with and without and chose to go without the excluder as the honey returns where much greater, I will ask him if he tried a top entrance.
I’m starting to think about the coming winter and what to do with my flow frames and the excluder which I hope to put on my hive in a few weeks providing the brood box is full.
If Jack ( semaphore ) is reading this can you tell us what you did over winter with your flow frames and excluder in Adelaide
I’ve asked the locals what they do with the honey supers (langstroth) over winter and some take them off some don’t…it’s all very confusing for a novice like myself


#6

I have five. I got my first one a year before they were on the market (lost track of when that was. Four years ago maybe?) I run all eight frame mediums and usually my brood nest is three to four boxes. Four is the equivalent of two ten frame deep boxes.


#7

This will be my first year using Flow Frames (going to be a hybrid super) - and sixth year with beekeeping. I use queen excluders basically as a means to isolate a queen when making splits - and never as a routine thing.

I’ve found that my queens tend to avoid going up into the honey supers & brood in the supers hasn’t been a problem. And I leave the drones cells alone.

Generally speaking, I don’t plan on altering my beekeeping with exception of running a deep as a super having 4 Flow Frames (and of course any extraction would be different with that hive) … so … long story short, not intending to use a queen excluder with the Flow Frames.

In the upper mid-west of USA, by the way … Iowa …


#8

Thanks foe the input honey badger…If you’re in Iowa then I assume you run at least two ten-frame deeps as a brood box is that correct?


#9

Isaac … yes, that’s my typical configuration

have all ten-frame boxes (deeps & mediums) - and found that two deeps per hive works best for me

been thinking of maybe going to eight-frame all mediums - old age catching up me :wink: exception being whatever I’d use for the Flow Frames, but even then I’m sure it would still be two brood chambers for each hive


#10

I am currently overwintering my colony on two eight-frame deeps. But I am actually planning on building up to three eight-frame deeps as brood nest and then supering with flow frames after that. Best I can figure, I should have no trouble with swarms with this configuration and should be able to go without queen excluder as well.


#11

G’day Isaac, it’s probably not a good idea to reckon that your bees wont swarm, regardless of what configuration you have. It’s ok to think like that if you don’t think that a swarm will bother neighbors, assuming that you have some.

Where neighbors are involved, it’s best to assume that your bees WILL swarm, then take appropriate steps to try to prevent it, when the time comes.


#12

I totally agree with @JeffH. Having a bigger brood area does not counter the swarming urge, it probably just makes sure that you will have a really big swarm when it happens! :blush:

The only way to prevent swarming is by inspecting and active swarm prevention methods such as splits or checker boarding.


#13

Concur on the idea that adding space for brood does not necessarily preclude bees from swarming – lack of free space is perhaps a primary consideration that prompts a colony to swarm, but by no means an end-all be-all.

I generally try to avoid swarms by adding a deep to one that’s roughly 80% full, looking out for swarm cells(on bottoms of frames), checker boarding … and effectively forcing a “swarm” in essence, making a split. There are practical limitations to how many splits and so on … and even if you do all you know how to do, bees can up and swarm anyway.

And just generally speaking … have found that bees will confound just about any expectation we humans put on them … generally being the operative word.


#14

@Snapper, I’m a sandgroper so take this as you see fit…

If Jack ( semaphore ) is reading this can you tell us what you did over winter with your flow frames and excluder in Adelaide

Last year I doubled wrapped mine in a black plastic rubbish bags and stored them in the shed. I had 3 flow frames per bag. Before re-using them I put them in the freezer for a week. This year my intent is to consider putting them in the freezer for a few days first, wrap and store, freeze again just before re-use. I had no issues with pests, wax moth etc so the only reason I’m adding the additional freeze is my own choice.


#15

Thanks mate,
Did you have to feed your bees over the winter ? I think my location will have enough flowers etc to keep my bees happy,I have a lot of scrub around Emu bay and have found a few wild colony’s of bees with in a few klms and they seem to be going well


#16

I very much agree that you do want to use an excluder with flow frames for the reasons stated.
There are two things that you can do to minimise the impact of an excluder on your bees:

  • use a metal wire wooden framed excluder, not the punched metal sheet or plastic ones.
    The wire ones are just a little more expensive, but have smooth surfaces for the bees to pass through, the latter ones can have sharp or ragged edges where the sheet metal has been cut or at the moulding marks on the plastic ones. Being more rigid, the wire ones are also easier to lift gently in a sticky hive so not annoying the bees when inspecting.

  • Cut holes in the very corners of the excluder sheet (not the frame), make a bigger hole turning a small number of slots right in the corner into one. (with a wire excluder, just cut out the end section of the edge wire)
    The queen tends to stay in the centre of the hive, as the brood nest is ball shaped and is away from the vertical corners of the hive. The drones on the other hand tend to keep out of the workers way, and can often be found resting (what else do they do?) at the extremities of the hive, at the top and corners. As the drones can’t pass through the excluder spacing, they can get trapped above it (any time the hive has been opened). With the corner holes in the excluder they can then traverse between the top and bottom of the hive by using the corners. Most queens will never go above an excluder with holes in the corners. If you do get one that repeatedly does, then you just have to revert to a complete excluder.


#17

I would never put holes in the corners of a queen excluder. I don’t want that odd occasion when the queen will pass through it.

There is no need for any drones to be above the qx in the first place. I always remove any drone brood from frames of brood that I place above it.


#18

Your bees will issue nice big fat juicy swarms. Catch those swarms and they will fill 3 deeps and possibly some honey for you in the same year depending on how well the flow goes.


#19

howdy,

I always use a queen excluder and wouldn’t risk not using one with flow frames. I have seen the photos of flow frames full of brood: no thanks! I also only use single brood hives so I think without an excluder I would have a much greater chance of the queen moving up into the super.

last winter we experimented and left our flow supers on over winter with QX in place (the previous one we removed them all). This worked fine- but there was little activity in the supers for much of winter and not much honey going in. At times the supers became quite moist and there was some evidence of mold… However: the bees did start to fill those supers before spring at the end of winter. I think next year I will probably remove the flow super at the start of winter- but then replace it very early before spring has started as it seems we have a good flow on at that time (at least this year there was) - and it should help prevent early spring swarming. Or I may just leave them on again…

I have some regular hives with ideal shallow supers on them- and I will probably leave one ideal on these hives over winter. The issue I have with removing supers before winter is how to cram all the bees down into one box?

One thing: I use metal queen excluders and they are far superior to the plastic ones. More spaces for the bees to move through- more rounded edges- and much easier to clean and remove without damaging bees. The plastic ones can buckle and bees crawl under the edges and get squashed when a super is put on them. The plastic ones won’t last that many year either so they are a false economy.


#20

when we stored ours over winter we never froze them- just harvested them- then put them out for a few days for the bees to clean- then rinsed in water and stored in plastic tubs with lids over winter. No issues with wax moth or anything. I don’t think there is much there for a wax moth if they have been harvested and then uncapped by the bees.