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Cold climate flow hive use


#1

Hi there, I have spent the last several years taking classes and learning from local keepers and am now finally ready to take the difficult plunge of starting my own hives in backwoods Maine. I recently came across the flow hive and am loving the idea! I would love to order one for next spring however most of what I have been able to see of this hive seems to be warmer weather setups. Has anyone successfully used the hive in colder climates ie wintered over in it? How well did the bees do? Last year we had a lot of below zero days and while I have learned a few tricks to help insulate over the winter, I am just curious how well it holds up. Also in the early spring when we have warmer days that bring the bees out of hibernation before there is enough resources for them to survive, how easy is the set up for feeding? Any info on using this hive in colder climates would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance :smile:

Ps to clarify some of my curiosities, if I were to order this I would be ordering the entire hive they sell including the brooder, and like everything in this world there are different quality levels, where this is still a newer product I was curious as to how well the flow super stores and what kind of maintenance it has at the start up and end of the season as well as how well it “sits” ie how stiff is it in the spring etc. Part 2 being is the brooder that comes with the complete flow hive designed exactly The same as a standard brooder? It seems to be but I wanted to clarify where sometimes products designed and used commonly in warmer climates don’t always have optimal performance In the opposite climate. I am asking these questions because it may be better for my area to get the brooder from one of my local beekeeping clubs and just order the flow super or if it is not designed to be used in the shorter season that my area has ie needs larger production volume and longer season, or doesn’t store well for the lengthier cold climates then it may not be the best investment for me.


#2

I am facing my first cold Winter with bees – I’m used to beekeeping in northern New Zealand and am now in northeast Europe! I plan not to keep the FlowHive box in use over Winter. Following the end of the harvest period, I shall remove, clean, and store it. This means all non-harvest activities – in particular Spring stimulation feeding (if necessary) and Winter supplement feeding – can be done irrespective of the FlowHive. Insulation issues don’t arise either (btw, I’m using European polystyrene hives).

The FlowHive box will go on as soon as it’s clear the colony is in Spring growth mode and stay until Winter preparations.

I know this isn’t from actual experience, but I thought you might find my strategy relevant.


#3

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#4

Actually I’m not “missing the point” I understand the. Use of the flow super, if I were to order this I would be ordering the entire hive they sell including the brooder, and like everything in this world there are different quality levels, where this is still a newer product I was curious as to how well the flow super stores and what kind of maintenance it has at the start up and end of the season as well as how well it “sits” ie how stiff is it in the spring etc. Part 2 being is the brooder that comes with the complete flow hive designed exactly The same as a standard brooder? It seems to be but I wanted to clarify where sometimes products designed and used commonly in warmer climates don’t always have optimal performance In the opposite climate. I am asking these questions because it may be better for my area to get the brooder from one of my local beekeeping clubs and just order the flow super or if it is not designed to be used in the shorter season that my area has ie needs larger production volume and longer season, or doesn’t store well for the lengthier cold climates then it may not be the best investment for me. But thank you for your feedback, as it gave the opportunity to clarify my questions.


#5

I have ordered only the one box with the FlowHive frames, but the website describes the full hive package as including “8 standard frames” in the brood box – I assume these are assembled with foundation.installed as the package is “…everything you need for your Flow™ Hive – except for the bees”.

Described overall as a standard Langstroth size hive, I would expect 10 frames but (a) the Oz LS standard may not be the same as the LS I’m used to (NZ) and am using now (Danish), and (b) they may be deliberately leaving room for two drone trap frames.

My preference (ignoring my wish to have polystyrene boxes) would be to buy only the Flow box/frames and get everything else locally. I would check out the cost implications of this too.


#6

@KiwiLad Langstroths can be 8 or 10 frame - the Flow Team chose to go with 8 Frames.

I can only assume it is because that hefting 10 Frames may be too heavy for some people and have gone for a more user friendly option all around.

The idea is to make Bee Keeping more accessible @Faroe - do you guys want to jump in here?


#7

@Valli With LS boxes ranging from 310mm to 465mm of inner width, and the number of frames from eight to 12, I get a headache trying to keep track of what various sources consider to be “standard”!


#8

@KiwiLad There is some differentiation with Langstroths world wide but generally speaking they are minute differences, the Frames tend to be standard sizes.

Have a Look at Mann Lake in the states - they sell to UK and their sizes are pretty standard


#9

Thank you for the info. That’s part of what I was looking for I was planning on useing an 8 frame As you mentioned less heavy lift lol. You never know with some newer items you run into something you didn’t expect. Cost wise will Definatly be looked at but that is where I wanted to be sure if I bought the seperate instead of having a brood box made locally I would probably want to order from brushy mountain bees so making sure everything will line up. Thanks again for your help!


#10

Wfc993:
You don’t say where you are and how cold it gets; for instance if you are in a place like say, Wisconsin, you would do well with three deep boxes for the brood nest and then Flow hive’s on top of that. I’m in NJ and I use three 8 frame deeps for brood and 4-6 medium honey supers added in the Spring. So you’re idea of conventional deep brood boxes for the bees to live in and then Flow supers is a good idea.


#11

I mentioned in the first few sentences I am in Maine, so just a bit north of you, have you been able to try the flow hive? I am really curious as to how well it lines up with standard 8 frame boxes. I was thinking about ordering an 8 frame hive from brushy mountain bees and then purchasing the flow hive box for the spring. Have you ever had a 2 brood box hive winter over well? Or have you only had luck with 3? Thank you for your input! :smiley:


#12

I haven’t. The Flow hive body is sized to fit 10 conventional frames or 7 Flow frames due to their thickness. I like your idea of 8 frame hive bodies and then just ordering some Flow frames for the honey supers. In Maine you’ll have a fierce honey flow coming out of winter and a really good late summer/fall goldenrod and aster flow. We try to get up to Acadia Nat’l Park each September but will miss this year due to camper repairs. I’m always envious of the wildflowers.
I find with three deep brood boxes the bees will fill the bottom box with pollen and some nectar; a bit of brood in the center towards the top of the frames; the middle box will be mostly brood; and the top box will be mostly honey with a little brood near the bottom of the middle frames. They’ll overwinter drones and they will be leaps and bounds ahead of double deep hives coming out of winter into Spring. I’m entering year 4 with triples and the difference is amazing.


#13

The typical hive overwinters in Maine is two ten frame deeps (or three ten frame mediums or four eight frame mediums). You’ll need about that for the “brood space” for them to overwinter on. I would not add the Flow frame box until those are 80% full. I would never remove those unless the hive has dwindled down to where they don’t need that space (which shouldn’t really happen often unless there was a late swarm or you split them and they haven’t built back up). About half of that is their cluster space. The other half is stores. I would remove the Flow frame box until spring. I don’t want them clustering in a space that they can’t start rearing brood in and they will likely start rearing brood in February where you are. I run all mediums. If you are running eight frame deeps, I would not overwinter in less than two eight frame boxes unless it’s a very small cluster. And three eight frame deeps might be better for a really large cluster.