Clean Out Dead Flow Hives Before New Nucs?

Hello -
Both my hives appear to be dead. I insulated them well over the winter, but upon checking, there is no movement. There were a couple of bad windstorms that blew the roofs off several times and it was very cold at the time, so that may have had something to do with their demise. I’ve got two questions: 1) Do I need to clean out the hives before I put new nucs in or will the bees clean it out themselves? and 2) I noticed my neighbor put three hives just a 100’ away from my dead ones. Will there be any problems with that like my my bees heading over to his hives? Noe sure why he did that, but I’m wondering if I just move my hives before getting things started again.
Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

Hiya Rebecca, the answer to your question will depend on when and why the colonys died. Does it get cold where you are? I could assume Greece but I won’t. :wink: In some situations you can fit a new nuc and let the bees clean it up, just like a wild die out situation with a swarm moving in afterwards.
As for your neibour, probably best if you have a chat with them and talk bees. It’d be handy to see what kind of beeks they are.
Shame your bees didn’t make it through winter and admire the drive to get back on the horse.

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Hi Rebecca,
Have you done brood box inspections yet? Once you do an inspection, you should be able to tell if it was caused by pests/disease or from the cold.
You may then need to clean/sterilise your equipment.

You are welcome to post some pictures of your frames, etc, in case you need help identifying the cause of your hives demise.
Maybe your neighbour has some good experience and can help you with inspecting your hives?
From my understanding, bees normally stay with their queen, so they shouldn’t go to your neighbour’s hives.
If you think about a large apiary, there can be 10’s of hives side by side, and bees going back to their own colonies.
It’s hard to tell why he would put his hives in a certain location, I could only guess that it is a good position for sun, wind, etc.


Your neighbors hives that distance will have no concerns to your hives. At my apiary I have 15 hives only 25 cms apart and the bees know which of the hives they belong to.
as to question 1 that depends on if for example they have SHB or Wax Moth invading the hive. I would clean the hives of anything that shouldn’t be there and that includes dead bees then add a nuc of bees and they will clean it up further to what they want.
If the hive lids blew off in really cold weather that could have caused the death of the hive, brood needs warmth.
Maybe go back to your photo at the top right and fill in your location, knowing that can help us to help you with some idea of you climate and what season you are in.

Its a good idea to strap your hive together. That will stop the wind blowing the roof off and also could avoid disaster if the hive got knocked over by animals for example…


Now, that is sound advice. We strapped down and together our hives for a recent ‘close maybe’ cyclone, and I’m glad we did. Lots of stuff went flying that wasn’t strapped down.
We had gusts of 120km/h up in the mountains. Quite scary with the big trees around.

Hi Skeggy -
I live in Rochester, NY and it does get cold, but I had bee cozies around both hives…early winter they were still doing fine. I’m guessing the loss happened when the roofs flew off during some really cold temps. We are supposed to get some warmer temps tomorrow which I’ll use as an opportunity to break down the hives and inspect a little closer. I dread cleaning whatever is waiting for me inside. I also heard from others that the bees take care of the cleaning, but not sure with the flow hives. I’ll see if I can snap some pics…:slight_smile:

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Hi Faroe -
I guess it probably doesn’t matter where my neighbor put his hives…my queens must’ve perished and my bees went over to his hives. I’m still learning. I better get this flow hives process down soon, because I have 3 more I’ve not assembled yet. I wish there was another person in my area with the flow hives, I would have a lot more confidence with my investment, but I’m sure I’ll get there eventually.

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Hi Peter -
I’m in Rochester, NY…I’ll try to snap some pics tomorrow to share and post them in the next couple days.

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Hi Jim -
I normally do, but was rushing and before I realized it, it was knee deep snow in the yard. Believe me, I’ll never make that mistake again!

Hi Webclan -
I have the big trees concerns too, many 100 year old ones, several fell during the wind storms. As I mentioned above, I’ll never make that mistake again…ugh.

personally I would 100% clean out the hives myself. It will be a LOT of work for you but a LOT harder for the bees to do. Usually when a colony perishes over winter many of the bees die inside the comb. The new bees would have to spend a lot of time pulling out all the dead ones. Also there is a goodly chance that wax moths and/or mold have spread. Not to mention the possibility of disease or some other pests.

cleaning out a dead hive in no fun- the best strategy is just to get straight at it- do it all- and then try to forget about it. In many cases it will be better to simply cut out all the combs and render then for the wax if you can be bothered and start afresh with new foundation. Replace any frames that are very old or damaged. I am fairly sure your new colonies will have a much better start if you do that than if you try to make them do all the cleaning.


You don’t necessarily need people with Flow Hives, you just need experienced beekeepers around. The Flow Hive is the same as a Langstroth/standard hive for all the important things like brood box inspections, checking for pests, diseases, the queen etc.
It’s only the Super which is different because you harvest differently.
When a traditional beekeeper adds their Super, this is when you will add the Flow Super.
Any beekeeper you talk to,you can just mentioned Langstroth deep hive 8 or 10 size depending on your Flow Hive model.
Setting up the brood box is the same.
1 or 2 brood boxes same as the local beekeepers around you.
Talk to your neighbor, they may be friendly and helpful. You may want to offer some money or exchange for the beekeeping knowledge. They may have a nuc/package of bees you can purchase off them in Spring for your hives.
Or you can discuss beekeeping with locals in your bee club.

If you edit your profile with your location, it will help people on the forum know your location. There may be others in your area on the forum too.

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Hi Semaphore -
I took a few pics after I took apart one of the hives.

gee- not looking great. but with some effort it should scrub back up…

What has happened to the outside of the hive?

I would consider taking everything out- giving the hive body a sand and then maybe painting it? Certainly I would paint the roof at the least. The flow frames can be soaked in warm water with Napisan or similar.

Hi Semaphore -Sorry for the late reply, I was out of the country. I agree, I would feel better cleaning the hives. The flow frames are full of honey and sitting in a large Tupperware container. Do you think the honey is safe to consume? The flow frames actually look fairly clean as you can see in the photo. Or, would it be better to just dispose of it? We don’t have Napisen in the states, but it appears to be a simple laundry detergent.


I think :thinking: the rest of the GANG have given you enough info to think n digest that is helpful.

I’d update your profile just a dab to give us a approximate location… that helps us give better n more conclusive info n help instead of guess work… also a couple or so good/clear photos of frames full length n up close helps us also … we’re trying to be accurate n helpful but kind of shooting blind …

Thankz n good luck for a new season,

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Wow, Gerald…:thinking: rude comment.


Sorry ! But I don’t get your drift young lady !!! What’s rude ?! I’ve reread my comments n a little puzzled :confused:… I’d remove or apologize if I know what your referring too.

Please enlighten me. I take not offense to your comment … but i’m baffled okay !!!

I’ll check by tomorrow,