I have a question about the pattern in which my bees are filling the flow frames. We inspected the flow frames after the super has been on for 6 weeks and we discovered that the bees are making and storing honey half way through every frame (facing the entrance)but they will not put wax or store any honey towards the half of the frame that faces the back harvesting window. I thought that the bees would fill one frame at a time starting from the centre, so in that way each frame can have a different flavour, but instead they’re only filling the back half of multiple frames. Some of the honey is capped too. Is this normal or is it unusual? Also, the whole frame is in the correct position too, so that is not the problem.
Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you.
What your bees are doing sounds absolutely normal to me. I don’t think the bees are all that worried about keeping different flavors in individual combs. There’s probably too many bees in the honey super for them all to be working on one frame at a time. They spread themselves evenly across the frames, so they’re not crowding each other.
Photos would really help us to help you! Thank you
Very normal. Bees are living creatures. They’ll do what they want.
And like @Dawn_SD mentioned, photos will help you get a broader range and likely more in-depth comments.
This pattern indicates to me that the colony’s swarmed or there’s been a dearth as it looks like they’ve eaten/moved honey stores from the centre of the frame. Is this actually a common pattern your bees store their honey, Doug?
Hi Bianca, this is also a very common pattern for my hives too. From what I can tell they tend to leave this arc in the frames more so when the queen is really laying well through spring. I believe they are leaving space for the queen to lay as later in the season they start to store in the arc.
Interesting! I wonder if you think this would still happen if you used a queen excluder?
It seems that it does still happen, QX or not. Might be helped with a second brood box or even a regular super on top of the Flow, either way frees up laying space.
I always run with QXs but the bees don’t know the queen can’t access the super
Looks normal to me. Usually what I see when the colony is expanding or maintaining a larger size. Usually in similar frames too. Look at the pattern in the brood box frames below. Notice any correlation in laying pattern? My guess is you would…
Yes it does, at least for me. Aside from an issue with a plastic QX last season I’ve always used a QX and see this pattern occurring during colony build up and when they maintain a larger colony size. Later in the season is prominence does reside but rarely entirely disappear except during times of a strong flow.
So that photo illustrates a recently harvested Flowhive super (modified 10 frame Langstroth) and was removed from a strong colony prior to the harvest. The capping pattern on the frame is the same pattern I see with traditional supers and queen excluders are used on all of my hives…Flowhive and traditional. The specific frames shown here were almost at capacity…by that I mean even the uncapped portion was full of ripe honey…the super was ready to harvest.
In my area, during a season that doesn’t have a consistent heavy flow, sometimes the conditions are such that those uncapped cells in the center are empty…but that is rare and seen in traditional equipment as well. I also suspect that the hive consider those empty cells above the queen excluder in the center as a potential drone producing area…probably because I limit the amount of drone cells available to the brood area below…and that the flowframe cell size itself approximates that of drone cells.
This is what the outside frames of the super looked like before the harvest…not quite as much uncapped cells.
Interesting. Thanks for sharing Doug.
we also see this pattern in spring in all hives standard or flow. The bees don’t know the excluder excludes the queen. they want to expand the brood nest to accommodate her laying abilities and so keep that arc clear of honey. They do tend to back-fill it later int he season if they have a flow on. If you put a standard ideal above the brood and below the flow then you can remove this issue tp a degree- but then it can take longer for the flow to fill and in a poor season it may never fill.
Thanks @Semaphore, interesting and good to know!