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Do not harvest your FlowHive until you read this

I was about to harvest for the first time when I decided to do some research. I was told by the internet and some of you that I should not rely on the outside of the flow frame only. My window showed me this:

Every frame in the middle showed capped and looked ready. Bees are bearding outside the hive every afternoon which made me think that they are not very busy and running out of space. So, I went for it but did an inspection to make sure just in case…

This is what I saw:


Not ready at all. So, I put the frames back and closed the hive.

Will get back to the harvest only one frame in a few weeks. Thoughts?

Roshi.

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Pretty common mate. You must always inspect before harvest.
If cells in the arc in the middle are empty The rest of the honey should be ripe. If you went ahead and harvested with the empty arc be careful to only open your frames incrementally to avoid a leakage. Consider taking the super off to harvest.
Sometimes the bees will just refuse to use the arc. Consider shifting the centre frames to the outsides to encourage them to fill them completely.

It’s worth considering that the flow cells are drone sized cells. The bees leave them empty for the queen to lay eggs in. If those frames are moved to the outside, the bees may leave them empty on account that they are not all that fussy where the drone brood is in the hive. However they did leave the cells empty in the middle, that must be their preference. If they really want the drone (fantasy drone) brood in the middle, they’ll likely empty the honey out of the frame you place in the middle, & fill the frame you place on the outside.

This behavior will probably cease once the colony senses that less virgin queens will be out there, needing to get mated.

I’m not sure if it’s my imagination but i sometimes think it helps to drain the honey then the residue honey left in the “arc” cells encourages them to start filling them.

Perhaps, @TimG!

Particularly lately, I’ve noticed a distinct arc in the centre frames of the supers I’ve inspected.

I’ve always thought it was indicative of the bees eating or moving honey stores from the super as this shape is the typical pattern of this i.e. the bees will generally starting filling the bottom-centre of the middle frames and work their way out, starting with this section when they eat/move honey too.

It’s interesting to see other colonies around the world demonstrating different behaviours.

Thank you all a lot for your help.

I did not harvest the frames.

I think I will move the middle ones (with big ‘arcs’) to the side and monitor their progress. I checked the side ones the other day and they seem they are filling them from the middle as expected. they seemed ready to be capped.

I may harvest one of the full frames in a week or two but as you said I will do a third of it and will make sure I do it outside the hive. Will report back.

Cheers,

R.

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we have mostly seen this pattern in spring- and during spring the empty arc part is totally empty: there is no nectar in those cells. The cells are kept empty for the fantasy brood the bees hope the queen will put there… I can see from your frames that the bees have started to put nectar into the arcs- which is usually what we see after spring has finished and as long as you have a decent flow I think the bees will continue and fill them. I plan to test putting an ideal below the flow super during spring in the hopes that the bees will put the arc in them instead of in the flow frames. I now have an ideal or a full depth standard super on all my flow hives. I plan to leave them on for the winter and remove all flow supers.

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Thanks Semaphore.

That is exactly what I plan to do. I am going to add an ideal between the flow and the brood to see if they can fill it for their winter. To prepare for the winter I aim to remove the flow super altogether and leave the ideal for them (if it has a decent amount of honey by then). Hope it works. We have a good nectar flow now and it seems they are very busy (rain permitting!). See what happens.

sounds like a good plan. This season we have not had the best flows- and so far ur flow frames have not filled- but we harvested some honey from our ideals. My plan going forward to get flow harvests will be to let the ideal fill completely - hopefully to have it still full coming into spring- so the only place the bees can store honey is in the flow super. Our winters are relatively mild and the bees generally come out of winter with whatever honey they went into it still there. they are able to forage throughout- they don’t put on weight but they don’t eat many stores either.

@Semaphore, Jack what is an ideal, as I haven’t heard that word used regarding beekeeping before?

an ‘idea’ is an Australian term for a shallow box with frames that are roughly half as deep as a deep frame. This is an ideal frame:

ideals are great if you don’t like lifting heavy boxes- or if you want to make cut honeycomb. I use ideals to make cut comb with foundation by ‘checkerboarding’ foundationless combs with ones with foundation. I use the ones with foundation to guide the bees to build the foundationless ones straight.

@Semaphore, thank you Jack. I have heard of those types of frames, but never heard them call “ideal”, another term that I have learnt as a newbee beekeeper.:crazy_face::crazy_face::crazy_face:
Yes I have a frame that the bees have built a bit wonky, as it was one of the foundationless frame that came with the FH2. When I am able to (most likely at the start of next Spring), I’m going to add a second broodbox which will have a plastic foundation in the frames. Then eventually replace the original FH2 frames with the same plastic foundations in them too. In heinsight I should have done that when I was late getting my HF2 (mid November), so that my nuc of bees could have had less work to do building the foundation themselves, and thus spent more time filling the frames with brood, honey and pollen. Having a young Queen, didn’t help either I think.

personally I don’t use plastic frames but wood frames with beeswax foundation. In my experience bees prefer it- though they will build on plastic too- - especially if it has a good coating of beeswax.