Extra Supers on Flow Hives to prevent swarming?

I have just purchased a hybrid flow hive, has 4 flow frames and 4 normal frames I was going to use to make honey comb. Just wondering, in the height of summer as the bees expand, is a 2nd super required to prevent the colony getting crowded and swarming, or can this be managed by more frequent extraction of the flow frames in the one super box?

Hi Thomas, I have found extra supers don’t do too much to reduce the swarming impulse. Giving room in the brood nest is better. I understand that one of the ideas with the hybrid, is to take a frame/some frames of brood from the brood box (when things get crowded etc) and put it/them in the top super (make sure you don’t put the queen up there of course. I’d shake just about every bee off them). You then take the ordinary honey frames from the super and put them in the bottom brood box. Alternatively, you could cut out the comb from the frame in the super and eat it, replace it with a frame from the brood, and put another foundation frame or empty drawn frame in the brood box for the queen to lay in.

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I agree with @Dan2, for swarm management, you must inspect and manage the brood space. However, an extra super can be very helpful if you have a very heavy nectar flow. They can be slow to cap what they have, and for some reason (perhaps increasing ventilation and dehydrating the unripe honey), if you put another box on top, this encourages them to cap the lower box. A medium, WSP or ideal depth super would be perfect. You can use a deep too, but they get too heavy for me. :blush:

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Thanks Dan, do you think that a 10 frame brood box would offer better resistance to the swarming tendency? I assume a bigger box would provide more room for hive expansion?

Dawn, to manage a heavy nectar flow, would you use another flow framed super?

Dan, what is an empty drawn frame?

I don’t because of the cost. I actually used a super with alternating foundation and foundationless frames, intending to produce cut comb and chunk honey. As it turned out, the bees only drew a little bit of comb out, so I didn’t harvest anything from that super. I got plenty of honey from the Flow super underneath it though. :blush:

In Australia, they are often know as “stickies”. It is most often a used frame from a super which has been extracted by spinning previously. It can also be a frame which has been rotated out of the brood nest into a super, and the bees have cleaned it up. As you get more years under your belt in beekeeping, you will appreciate that these frames are like gold dust to a new colony. They save bees hours of work in foraging for honey and building wax, because it is already there for them. You can put a colony weeks ahead by using these type of resources. :wink:

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Perhaps a little, but it is probably more to do with the relative size of the colony within the box?

You can make up “flat” frames, which just have the wax foundation on them ( you can buy the foundation from the bee equipment supplier). Once in the hive, the bees build up or “draw” the cells upwards (generally called honeycomb) on that foundation for the use of the queen to lay in or for the bees to fill with honey. You can get empty drawn frames after extracting honey from them down the track. The honey is gone, but the cells are still there. If you put those empty drawn frames in the brood, the bees will fix them up and the queen has somewhere to lay eggs more immediately (rather than her having to wait for the bees to build up the comb).

As a less than 2 months old hive keeper I have been reading a lot and I understand the principle of this discussion, also thanks to @Dan2 and @Dawn_SD answering my questions. I was wondering how you would do this in a flow hive setup given that the super has flow frames. I read that you should swap several the brood frames into your super each year to maintain brood cell size. How do you do this with a flow setup?

Great question. The way I would do it is to pick outer frames which are usually all honey and pollen, then spin out the contents. The best time would be in March (northern hemisphere) or September (southern hemisphere), so that you are replacing frames at a time when there is about to be a really good nectar flow and plenty of young nurse bees are in the hive to draw out new comb.

If you don’t have access to a spinner and/or you want to take out occupied brood frames, then you can just take a couple of frames out of the Flow super for around 3 weeks, and put the traditional frames in there until the larvae have emerged. If there is drone brood in those traditional frames, you will need an inner cover with an upper entrance to let the drones out of the hive once they have emerged, or you will need to find another way to let them out every day so that they don’t die by getting stuck in the queen excluder.

Never thought of removing the flow frames but that would work because it is a normal box. I can just make sure that there are no drone cells. Would I just wait to replace the frames in the brood or have some spare frames to put in the brood box immediately.?

Well, you have to think about why you are taking them out. If you subscribe to the concept of refreshing comb every 3 years or so, you would take them out, render wax, and reuse the wood part. If you are taking them out just to reduce the amount of brood, I would probably not put them in the super, just use them to make a split. Like many things in beekeeping, it all depends… :blush: