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Documenting a Flow Hive in Adelaide- South Australia- First Season


#1

I saw the flow hive in the media the day the crowd funding appeal began and was immediately intrigued. I have some familiarity with bees- my brother used to own a few hives on Kangaroo Island- Ligurian bees. I told my mother who is a great early adopter of new technology. She also became intrigued- and immediately ordered some frames- then upgraded to a complete hive- then ‘accidentally’ ordered another complete hive. She joined our local bee keeping club and awaited her hives eagerly. They arrived safe and well in January. Assembling went very well- the quality is excellent. The instructions were clear and there were no parts missing, no hitches- after multiple coats of tung oil it l just looks fantastic:

Due to the help of a very kind local bee keeper we were able to obtain an excellent Nuc just when we need it for the princely sum of $50! Amazing! And that included installation and a lecture on beekeeping!

This local beekeeper was a little skeptical of the flow hive- but had an open mind- and was impressed with the quality of the hive when he saw it. He particulary liked the design of the base board and entrance. Examining the flow frames up close immediately removed a few of his initial concerns about the flow design. He is interested to see how the hive progresses and said the hive location looked excellent. my mothers garden the perfect place for a hive and the spot she chose the best spot. Mum lives near the coast in Semaphore Adelaide- and we are hoping the bees will get a bit of good forage amongst the sand dune flora.

The nuc (consisting of 8 frames) was installed in the flow hive brood box and we left the hive to settle for a month before carrying out the first inspection:

Everything looked great there was activity on every frame, no signs of disease, capped and uncapped honey, brood, pollen, etc. Also the bees were friendly and compliant which is always good.

We left the hive alone for another three weeks before another inspection- and now things look even better- most frames were filled out and I luckily spotted the queen on the first frame we removed- she looked great. The bees had produced a little comb at the tops and between a few frames- we removed this- and decided it was time to put the flow super on! We noted a few ants on the base board thing- and some signs of possible moth webs- also noticed that you can see MILLIONS of bee legs poking down through the screen above! We’re going to raise the hive up on four bolts set into little tins of oil to ward of any ants- and keep an eye on any brood moth issues. Overall the hive looked very active and healthy:

That’s all for now- the flow super has been on for just a few days so far- let me know if you see anything of note in the photos- or have any advice, comments, etc. There is still a little bit of Summer left- and then all of Autumn- we had a little late summer rain this year and are hoping for some nectar flow over the next few months- I am so excited to see how the flow hive progresses. I will update this thread in a 3 weeks or so when we inspect the flow super for the first time!


South Australian Flowbees
#2

Please keep sharing :slight_smile: and thank you for the great post and photos


#3

Beautiful job on the hive! Great photos and very nice narrative. Congratulations! I don’t see anything of any concern in your photos. Lots of capped honey in your brood box, but it looks like there is still space for the queen to lay, so that is a good time to put on your Flow super, as you did! :smile:

Very nicely done.

Dawn


#4

Nice pics. Keep an eye on that queen; that’s a pretty spotty brood pattern.


#5

@Red_Hot_Chilipepper Do you think it looks like they are storing honey right around the brood? Perhaps a bit tight for space? Should be OK with the Flow super on now though?


#6

It looks like it. They may be crowded and are backfilling the broodnest in preparation for swarming. Common when using excluders in my area.


#7

Great photos, and beautiful hive!


#8

thanks for all the advice and input bee people. My brother read your replies and is of the view that (possibly) the hive was just getting quite crowded and was a bit jumbled up after the Nuc stage… I think the Nuc was composed of various frames- some with older comb on them possibly? I think also when they went into the flow hive the frame positions were switched. Hopefully the super will give them room to expand into quickly. Also there are only 8 frames in the brood box- room for one more- and we decided perhaps at the next inspection it would be good for them if we put in a new empty frame- that might give the brood box a bit more space for new brood cells? We could see how the queen lays on a fresh frame as well.

Here are a few more photos of the frames after the first inspection:


#9

looks good…

i’d always put the super on sooner rather than later… bees can boom!! all of a sudden and catch you out on numbers…

into march now so I would say that it is highly unlikely that the bees will swarm… it would be almost suicide for them if they did…

my flowhive is loaded… absolutely loaded with bees… and I see no sign of them moving on… even when they seemed to get upset with thousands and thousands of them coming out of the hive last weekend when I drained some frames…

not that anyone from the flow team want to discuss this issue… these frames were meant to NOT UPSET the bees… or disturb them…

everything is all luvvie duvvie…

but do these bees look calm and unstressed?


#10

That does seem to be a lot of bees!

I wonder why exactly they all came out like that- I have watched a few videos of people robbing the honey and haven’t seen anything like that before.


#11

yeah, I was just watching a video of another guy harvesting and didn’t see one bee buzzing around his hive while draining… :worried:


#12

was it a hot day when you did it? Perhaps the wax was extra soft and so slumped down and caused a disturbance?


#13

24*…

I’m not happy about it…

I don’t like seeing the bees upset or stressed…

there were a few stressed poops on the outside on the hive… but only a few


#14

That does seem the opposite of what other beekeepers are finding when they drain the frames…so there must be a reason for it happening. Tell us more about what you did…what the bees did…perhaps we can deduce why your bees came out like that.


#15

I wouldn’t put a ninth frame in, it is only meant to have 8. Just put the frames all next to each other - shoulder to shoulder, and leave a slightly larger gap on the outside edges. Those outer frames are mostly used for honey, and the bees will just draw the cells a little longer to correct the bee space, giving them a bit more brood honey storage. If you put a 9th frame in, you will need to shave down to shoulders so it doesn’t get too hard to remove. Also, you will risk rolling bees if you pack the frames in a lot. Eight frames will make it easier for inspecting.

Just my 2 cents’ worth. :smile:


#16

@Dawn_SD Can’t agree more, 8 fit, nine will roll the bees or endanger the Queen less than 8 you risk wonky comb with Burr or Brace comb at strange angles places - may look pretty but it is a pain


#17

Thanks Dawn and Valli- Ok well noted- we will just check the spacing and if necessary adjust so that there is space at the ends only. I did notice there was some brace comb appearing between the central frames.

We plan to inspect the hive again in around 3 weeks- given that the overall condition of the brood box looked good last inspection- would you leave the brood box alone or have another look inside and clean up that brace comb? I was planning to just take out the flow frames from the super and see how they are progressing.

BTW- if conditions were ideal- how fast could bees potentially fill out a flow frame from nothing? Mum heard at her local bee keepers meeting that there has been some good flowering this year (after a few bad years)- and hopes for some late summer forage.


#18

I would suggest no more than 2 weeks - it would be nice to see a tight brood pattern in the centre frames going into autumn. I am not too bothered about the brace comb - the bees don’t care, it is just inconvenient for you.

I think from what we have seen from forum members, it can be filled and capped in as little as 2 weeks, but that is unusual. Wait for it to be at least 90% capped before harvesting - which means it is a good idea to lift out the frame for a look, as you were planning.


#19

OK- it was around 34 days since we installed the flow super onto our hive. We went back today for an inspection- looking through the window there was promise of more good things to come:

Other than the honey in the comb (!!) I did notice that there is a column or two of flow cells that appear to be in the open position. Later I noticed this on a few other frames as we inspected deep into the hive (see below). It looks as if the bees fill these cells anyway just making odd shaped chambers. I wonder what happen to these lines when the frame is drained? I guess opening and closing the cells will crack them too? You can see them here on the left side:

Ok- now to peek inside! Lid was firm with propolis:

OK- first frame we pull out and this is what we see- Glorious light golden colored capped honey!

We happily noted honey in all frames- with the most in the center ones- only the two outer faces of the two outer frames didn’t have any capped cells yet. Things are looking really, really GOOD!

In the picture above it looks as if quite a few columns/cells on the left side of the frame and some on the right are in the open position. The bees seem to be avoiding these areas a bit for the time being. But it also looks as if the bees have already capped off some ‘lopsided cells’ like this? Now- I imagine this won’t be an issue come harvest- but that we may have to first open to drain the majority of the cells- then close and re-open the flow frame to get these lopsided cells to rupture? Any thoughts? One thing I have realised is that we should have inspected the frames more carefully before we installed them: checking the wires for tightness and checking that all the cells were fully closed (as an aside: could this issue relate to slack wires?). Other flow users take note! But I am not worried really.

Everything is going so well we decided not to inspect the brood box again at this time. The queen is reputedly only a year old - and the entire hive seems to be thriving with many more bees at every inspection- there are no signs of disease- so we don’t think there is any issue with the possibly patchy brood pattern.

The bees were perfectly behaved, and were bringing in full loads of pollen as we were there. Many native trees in the area are currently in flower- and given they have done all this work on the flow frames in just 35 days or so- it looks like there will be some fully capped frames in another two weeks- fingers crossed!

One interesting thing we saw when we were there: a bee was carrying another bee outside of the hive- we thought just to dump it- but then it flew off carrying the other bee and disappeared way off in the distance heading off into suburbia.

Why would a bee do that?


#20

Because a bee society has no pension plan, when a bee gets old & worn out & unable to perform to the hives expectations, a younger bee will pick it up & carry it far enough away so she can’t make it back to the hive. I’m guessing the young bee has to have enough fuel on board to do the return trip. The old bee will have an empty stomach, therefore no fuel to fly back to the hive.