First post. New hive

Hello everyone. New to the forum and new to beekeeping. I’ve had my flow hive 2 (8 frame) setup for 3 weeks now with a 5 frame nuc of beautiful Italians. My first inspection last weekend went well:
Most frames were 80% at least covered in workers
No queen cells present.
1 beetle found: added 2 traps
Didn’t test for mites to get knowledge of current levels because I couldn’t locate the queen after 2 passes. (Try again tomorrow)
3 framesless frames were added and one drawn 60%, one 90% and last about 25%
I was feeding 1:1 for the first 2 weeks and they took 32oz a day.
I’ve stopped feeding due to noticing that on frame 5 (expected brood) found it to be almost 100% backfilled. Not sure what to do about this. rotate it out or to give an empty frame for them to work on or just let it go and see if it’s swarm prep? Hoped if I stopped feeding they would move this around to a different frame.

Reading more and more and adding frameless frames it’s sounding like the more frames I give them the odds of them drawing out drones is probably fairly high right now. I plan to measure my frameless drawn comb tomorrow to see if they drew out drones or worker cells.

I planned to go fully frameless and let the bees be bees since honey harvesting in high quantity isn’t my first concern. (Open to opinions on frameless)

If anyone has some insight on my findings and first inspection I’d love to hear about it.



Hi Michael and welcome!

I’m a newbee too and installed a package of Italian bees a couple of months ago. You’ll find a lot of good advice here!

let the bees be bees since honey harvesting in high quantity isn’t my first concern

I like that! My bees are also just busy going about their beesness. I can recognize them in the garden because they’re a little smaller than the neighborhood bees.

Currently I’m using a Langstroth hive, and just started assembling my flow hive last weekend. They’re going to be transplanted to the flow hive in about a month.

So where in Southern California are you? There are a few of us are down here in San Diego.


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Personally for beginners I recommend using frames with foundation. Or at the least using foundation checkerboarded with foundationless frames. That means placing foundationless between frames with foundation to guide the bees to draw that comb straight. I reccomend that because foundationless frames can be drawn out unevenly and create issues for a novice. They are also very delicate- especially when they are not fully drawn out. I like to have a brood box that is perfect- with every frame even, that slide in and out of the hive like books on a shelf. No matter what you decide you’ll want that too. If you are all foundationless be sure to check them and correct them if they start to go out of whack.

You will also get less drone comb using foundation- and drone comb can be quite uneven in spring when there are a lot of drones being produced.

as for honey: there is nothing wrong with harvesting escess honey from your bees. Many new beekeepers claim they don’t mind if they don’t get much honey- but in the end there hives will become honeybound and swarm. Never take too much- especially before winter- but if there is excess it is good to take it.

as for feeding you may want to slow down if the bees are bringing in lots of pollen and nectar all by themsleves. there is no need to fee too much in spring time- when there is plenty of natural food for the bees. As for your full frame of honey- you can leave it for the time being and see if the bees move that honey around later. They will eat honey as they go- and they will prepare space for the queen to lay in as it is needed. Later on if there is a great deal of honey in the brood box you can look at removing some.

Hello and welcome to the Flow forum! :wink:

I think you mean foundationless frames? Not frameless? The only frameless frames that I am aware of are the top bars used in a top bar hive… :blush:

I would only stop feeding them if there is less than one side of a frame available for the queen to lay eggs, or if you you see swarm cells. If you have photos of your inspection, that would help us to advise you.

Apologies. Yes foundationless. I’ll be looking again tomorrow and try to take photos where I can.

You don’t need to apologize! We are all friends here. :wink: Just helps with communication if we try to use standard terminology. I look forward to seeing your photos. Depending on where you are in SoCal, you may need a second brood box to fill up before you add the Flow super, so if you don’t have one, you might want to think about that :blush:

I’m in Anaheim. Very mild temeperatures when it comes to winter. I’m not familiar with nectar flow and dearth so I’ll keep a close eye on their food til I can learn more about my areas flow. Hoped to keep the box down to 1 brood box. I guess no real reason in mind for doing so other than an easier setup to maintain. Of course if deemed necessary for the bees sake then I would change that thinking in a second.

In Anaheim, I think you will need 2 brood boxes. You could get away with one if you are willing to monitor closely and feed all winter. That is what the commercial beekeepers in our area do. :wink:

Would keeping a super on for the winter be equivalent to using a second brood when it comes to overwintering the hive?

I would NOT leave a Flow super on over winter. Especially with Italian bees and our dry climate. They will propolize the heck out of it, and it may not work the next year… :dizzy_face:

In a subtropical climate with year-round nectar flow, you can get away with it. We don’t have that in SoCal. :wink:

Very good to know. Thank you. Okay. I’ll start reading up and consider switching into a second brood box. As much as I’d prefer to go foundationless and stay natural. I also think for my needs and time available plastic foundations might be more up my alley. I’m going to stop by a local beekeeping facility tomorrow and see what information I can get and maybe pick up a second brood box. When I start something I tend to want to go from 0 to 100 and I do tons and tons of reading and research.

Should my goal for this season simply be to establish 2 full brood boxes? Maybe extracting any honey for my family this late on a new hive might be out of the question.

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From your description, it doesn’t sound like you need the second box for a week or so. You could consider ordering from Mann Lake online. They usually deliver in a week or less and their wax-coated plastic foundation has worked extremely well for me. Just a thought. No, I don’t work for them… :wink:

When adding a second brood. What signs should I look for before adding it? My hive is 80% which I thought was enough to start adding more. Also adding the second brood. Should new plastic frames be checkerboarded in with my current brood box?

I really should make a thread about this. I have answered it dozens of times, but this is what I do:

If you give them too much space, they can’t heat or defend it.

To decide when to add the next box, I use the following rules, that the existing box has:

  1. Fully drawn comb covering most of every frame, and
  2. The comb is 80% full of brood, pollen or honey, and
  3. Every frame is well-covered with bees

ALL of these points must be true to add another box. These rules apply to adding second brood boxes and honey supers. In other words, after adding the second brood box, I would wait until those rules were satisfied before adding the super (traditional or Flow super). That makes sure that there are always enough bees to use the space, heat it, and defend it.

Please do not checkerboard plastic frames in your existing colony. It is likely to set them back a lot. A bit like somebody moving your kitchen into your bedroom, and your garage into your dining room - takes a while and a lot fo work to undo all of that.

Sorry. I normally try to research and search before asking questions. Getting a bit ansy while I have someone to speak with directly…haven’t had that yet. Just Google haha. when adding a brood box with empty plastic frames has a possibility of the bees building wax more randomly? Should even 1 brood frame be moved up to the new box or some configuration? Or just add it empty and they’ll move into it a fill on their own.

Also. Should I return to feeding when the second empty brood is added.

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do you think you could get away with a single brood- then a shallow super (we call them ideals- not sure what you call them in the US) for winter honey- then the flow frames? I am finding that is a good set up here in South Australia- of you plan to remove the flow super over winter.

Got the double brood box going first box is almost full of bees and wax drawn out as well as 3 full frames of worker brood (the frame I was worried about backfilled has been cleared out and used for brood again :sweat_smile:) new box has plastic wax coated frames and a feeder in the box. Couldn’t find the queen again but her work is everywhere on the frames so no worries there. Plenty of honey in the first brood box. Very happy with the ladies work.

First inspection of second brood box. They took the whole gallon frame feeder 1:1 and have drawn out almost 1 middle frame of the plastic wax coated frames in it and have enough bees spread out over 3 additional frames working on more. Some nectar in the top portion of the middle drawn frame and the queen already found her way up and I can see her eggs in the newly drawn cells. Couldn’t be happier with this hive and these Italians. Filled the feeder and left them go get to their business. Quick check this week. Excited for next week and to finally be able to do a varroa check to get an idea of their levels now that I know she’s working the top box. Bottom board checks don’t have me worried only saw a few (7) after a week but I’d like to keep a good eye before influx and having no previous data to go on.

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Hey Michael - how’s things go for your first season? I just happened upon this post and thought I’d ask :slightly_smiling_face: Seems like you did a great job researching and setting your bees up this past spring, so my fingers are crossed things went well!

Hello. The bees did well. Filled out 11 frames of wax and was able to fill 8+ full deep frames of honey. They’re reduced to a single box now and being fed some pollen patties (had zero pollen stores and queen appeared to completely stop laying) I haven’t taken any honey from them yet…I’d like to take a frame but have no way to spin it so they’re just sitting and maybe get rotated back in to feed them. They refused to go up into the flow hive super but I’ll give them another try with it next season now that they’re established. Looking forward to a producing season next year more than just establishment.

Family did get to try a small amount of honey tho for the holidays and everyone loved it.

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