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Flow frames over the winter


#1

I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do with the flow frames after the honey harvest and through the winter. Does anyone suggest leaving them on the hive to give the bees an opportunity to clean them up? When would you take them off? Thanks, Ed


#2

I would take them off after the last harvest, and store them in the garage (which is my bee equipment shed! :blush:). Leaving them on could be problematic, in that the bees may apply a lot of propolis if they feel a draft, and if you leave them on top of the hive, it creates overhead dead space which will take heat away from the bee cluster.


#3

I think that depends on your climate. Here I can’t leave a queen excluder on in winter because the queen would get left behind (another reason I don’t use them). I’m not comfortable that it’s a good idea to have combs that the queen can’t lay on but the cluster might end up there. My bees usually spend the winter in the top box no matter where they were going into winter, and I don’t want them to be stuck somewhere that they can’t rear brood. So i pull mine off. In a mild climate this all may not matter much…


#4

I live in south central Oregon where we have genuine winters. They have been known to come early and stay late. With my regular supers I extract the honey, and then place them on blocks near the hives for a day or two for the bees to clean up. I am fairly new to beekeeping in general and wanted to find out what others are doing with the Flow.


#5

That should be absolutely fine for the Flow super too. The only thing you don’t want to do is leave the plastic exposed to light for more than a few days - the plastic goes brittle over time with UV exposure.


#6

When I want my supers cleaned out and ready for storage I place them ON TOP OF the inner cover and then place the outer cover back on. The bees seem to view them as outside of the hive and will go up through the hole in the center of the inner cover and rob out any nectar/honey and move it into the boxes below.


#7

Will it be OK to store them at room temperature during the winter? Do the bees clean them up that well? Would it be safe to free them or will that warp the plastic? Not sure I have read anything about freezing them.

Thanks
Pat


#8

Yes it would be fine to store them at room temp. I would freeze them first for at least 48 hours to kill off any pests, then tightly wrap the frames to stop anything from “discovering” them over winter. The honeyflow.com FAQs recommend cleaning the frames with hot water (70C or less), but I wouldn’t do that myself, as it may remove the wax and pheromones which help the bees to accept the frames quickly again next season.

@Michael_Bush lives in a climate which has many days of freezing weather over winter. He leaves his Flow frames outside (off the hive), and they did fine - no warping.


#9

Thanks for that excellent advice.


#10

Sort of. They are under a roof in my open ended barn.


#11

Which brings up another great point. They should not be exposed to strong sunlight for any longer than necessary - it can make the plastic go brittle. Michael knows that, just wanted to make sure anyone taking them off over winter didn’t let the frames go take a sunbathe… :blush:


#12

I’m in a very mild climate… worst temp this winter was just above freezing overnight.

I’d left the flow frames on above a cover board as at the end of the season there was only a couple of frames of honey in the brood box but lots in the flow hive. It seems to have been fine except I saw a little chalk brood during the coldest, wettest part, but that seems to have disappeared since the weather has started to warm up again.

The bees didn’t go into the flow hive much at all and I never saw the cluster up there. They haven’t taken much of the honey either. I haven’t seen any problems with robbing.

They are now collecting pollen and nectar again and I’m seeing some bees up in the flow section sometimes.


#13

I need some follow through on this topic. I just finished harvesting my FlowFrames. I have been harvesting about 2 per week. The bees have already started to deposit nectar in the frames I emptied a couple of weeks ago. We can have very harsh winters here in Boston so I want to remove the frames. What do I do with the nectar? I was thinking to just leave the frames out near the hive (but not in the direct sun). I have two very brood boxes but have been unable to check them in a while because of the weight of the honey super. Where do I go from here?
Thanks
Pat


#14

Please have a look at our extensive wintering FAQ here - https://www.honeyflow.com/faqs/wintering-your-flow-hive/p/206