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Customized hybrid super...proper spacing?


#1

first year bee keeper here. my bees did very well this year and are overwintering very well so far as I can tell. (I live in the Midwest United States) I am excited and looking forward to putting my flow frames on next year and crossing my fingers that my bees like the flow frames and have a productive year. As I have read other topics and learned from them, I am planning on purchasing a better Queen excluder as well as painting a bit of melted wax on the frames in order to encourage the bees to use them quickly. But another thing I am thinking about is this: would it encourage the bees to utilize the flow frames more quickly if I take one of their honey frames (a frame they built out this past year and stored honey in) and put it up with the flow frames? If this is a good idea and would encourage the bees to use the flow frames more quickly, bee space sort of becomes an issue. If you take out a single flow frame, it doesn’t seem possible to put two standard frames in it’s place. I know that the actual hybrid supers that Flow sells have three flow frames and four standard frames, but I am hesitating to do that since I am really wanting to ENCOURAGE the bees to use the flow frames…rather than tying to make lots of comb honey and so forth. So then, what are thoughts on what effects, if any, would there be in moving a standard frame in amongst the flow frames? And how concerned should I be about proper frame spacing? It would, after all, be possible for me to simply space out the five flow frames and a single standard frame evenly in the flow super OR squish everything together for proper bee space but leave a gap either on one end or shared equally on both ends…thoughts or experience on this would be much appreciated.


#2

I think the bees might be able to escape out (when you open up the panels) through the gaps between the frames in the areas of the rear panels (flow key one as well) if you don’t use all 6 Flow frames in the Flow super.


#3

I did move a brood frame up into the flow super once, on my mentor’s advice. The nurse bees of course went up with the brood. The super became very busy instantly.
Let the emerged drones out in a few days, if any.
Then the bees will fill the brood frame with honey, a lot of honey, because they have the space.

Once the brood emerged, I put that frame into position 1, to be able to observe the happenings. Very cool and educational.
As Dan wrote, best not to open the harvesting door.


#4

Hi @Webclan

I would worry (given my recent experience) about moving brood above an excluder, given the risk of supercedure queen cells being made. I suppose you’d just need to check every week or so until the brood aged enough and it would be fine.
It would have been fabulous to see the happenings :smiley:


#5

They didn’t make any funky cells. Of course I left Queen Maya in the broodbox under the QX. That’s close enough for the pheromones. Was mainly capped brood too.
Had 5.6kg honey from that frame. They had the room to make the honeycomb real fat.


#6

Thanks for the feedback webclan. I was thinking that I would put a frame that was basically just Honey stores and drawn comb…as opposed to a frame with any eggs, larvae, or capped brood. Maybe i’m just being silly, but i figured that if they get a frame of their own drawn comb with some honey still in it from the last year, then they will figure out more quickly that the flow frames surrounding it are a good place to continue storing additional honey. But maybe I should consider moving a frame with some brood in it instead?? The flow super will be sitting on top of two 8 Frame brood boxes so I should have plenty of frames to choose from as far as that goes. Thanks again!


#7

Well, the nurses have no reason to go up if it’s just a Honey frame. May leave it open to pest infestation then.
My experience with putting a brood frame (mainly capped brood) up has been a good one.
But - the neighbouring flow hive took to the flow super straight away without any tricks. Their broodbox was overflowing with bees.
No doubt the timing was right.
But if I ever would encounter a colony that doesn’t like the upstairs, I would put a brood frame up again.
Good luck with it. Let us know how it goes.
We were excited to follow the bees’ actions.


#8

I would just give it a go first with all flow frames in place as you will have to block the gaps as in a hybrid setup if you use standard frames.
We have had no trouble with flowframes being populated straight out of the box. I think what is key is having a strong hive and don’t put it on too early.
Good luck.


#9

I did similar recently and will inspect soon to see how they’re going.
Mainly to get honey in comb though so made some bits to allow me to put a standard frame with my flow hives.


#10

I installed my super about 6 weeks ago, but right from the start I removed TWO Flow frames, and replaced them with THREE wooden frames. I put one wooden frame at one side of the super, and two at the window side. The three wooden frames are a very tight fit for the space made by removing the two Flow frames, but one advantage of limited space has been very good looking drawn comb. My theory is that the bees simply do not have the space to go on any crazy comb adventures across the super.

I am located in Gerringong NSW, which seems to be an ideal place for nectar so far. The bees took to the Flow frames immediately because, I suspect, I rollered some of their own melted burr comb onto the plastic frames. The middle picture here was taken about two weeks ago, when the bees had commenced drawing comb onto the two wooden frames next the super window. You can see the plastic frame behind the fresh white comb on one of the two wooden frames. The other two images were taken yesterday. The frames are now almost fully drawn, covered with bees, and the cells are filling with nectar. You can no longer see the plastic frame behind. I would expect these three wooden frames to be full and capped within two more weeks at the rate these bees are going. In fact, they will probably be capped well before any of the plastic flow frames are ready for their first harvest.

I expected that the bees would be able to escape through the spaces between the wooden frames, and this is exactly what they are able to do.

My reasons for removing the plastic frames and substituting bare wooden frames were, firstly, to get my teeth into a frame of honeycomb to see what its like (I’ve only been beeking since I got these bees in mid-November 2017), and secondly, to have a couple of fully drawn frames of capped honey to freeze and keep in reserve for unexpected eventualities like dearth, winter feed, nucs or any other thing that may happen that would require provision of a frame of honey. Once I have removed the wooden frames, I will put the plastic ones in their place.

I hope my experience is helpful for you, Isaac.


#11

Hello Neil and Birgit,
Sounds like you turned your Flow into a Flow Hybrid, which is what I’ve got experience with.

We found that the bees filled out the naturally drawn comb in the Flow super first, as they definitely seem to prefer wax over plastic when given a choice. Your plan to replace the naturally drawn wooden comb with the Flow frame is a good one. If you replace it with another empty woooden deep to draw out, it’s likely they’ll do that and ignore the Flow frames. At least that’s what our bees did :ok_hand:t4::honeybee:

Enjoy the cut comb honey :purple_heart::honey_pot:


#12

Oh, wow, thank you for this input! I will be supering my colony up here in about 4 weeks or so and I am excited to see how things go!