Flow hive and new family of bees

ok so collected my first hive… a 5 frame hive in a nuc travel box over the weekend. Put my flow hive together yesterday and in my rush to get it all done in order to move my hive over to the new flow hive box, I sealed it with Deck oil (cabots water based oil for garden furniture) In hindsight I realise I should have checked what others used as I now read it could be toxic to the bees. What shall I do? Clearly I’m a bit of an idiot. I haven’t opened the nuc box yet but understand it’s full and needs to be moved to more frames pronto. I have also painted the inside of the flow boxes, roof and base.

Secondly, the roof of the flow frame was missing the two under side pieces so there are good entrances to hive either side for the bees to defend. I am thinking in the meantime of covering over the round hole in the inner cover so they are more protected. Is this ok?

Thirdly, I was given some additional comb from their original nuc box to put in another frame. It is a combination of honey and pollen and the honey is running in places and some flies have been on it. Now that it has already been 5 days that it’s been out of the hive, is it still ok to use?

And lucky last question…what’s people’s experience with the foundation less frames received from flow? I don’t really have time to order any foundation frames so think it’s a case of hoping they draw the extra frames out well with comb. Feeling a bit unprepared and clueless.

I can’t answer about the oil you used- I am not familiar with it. Hopefully you only put it o the outside of the hive?

You can definitely cover the hole on the inner cover- it is there for feeding and possibly ventilation. If you use it for ventilation you should cover it with some screen. I just put a small plank of wood to block mine.

I had good success using the foundationless frames with the wood starter strip. I melted a little beeswax onto my strips. However be sure to make sure your hive is 100% level- if it is off even by a few degrees the bees will not draw out perfectly vertical frames.

Concerning your extra bit of comb- keep it sealed up somewhere- as wax moth will find it very fast if not. I am not sure if the pollen will go off or not- the honey should be ok for around 2000 years or so… ?

Lastly: the bees should be OK in the Nuc box for a while- perhaps unless it is one of those temporary plastic ones? I had two Nucs delivered this year and was able to leave the bees in them for a month before I put them into bigger hives. They were fine. But they were in full wooden boxes, with a proper base and lid.
Good Luck!


Hi Mel, its water based so as long as you leave it time to cure, you should be right. I don’t see that its toxic to bees. I used something very similar and have no issues, nor is there any fumes as long as it is dry which in good weather should only take 3-5 days. Painting the inside of the hive is not advised by many but from what I have seen, read and done myself, its nothing to worry about.

Yep, a piece of wood or tile is ideal

I wouldn’t risk it, it could be fermented which may make some of your bees ill… cut out the wax, melt and render it then re-use the frame when you move your bees into the Flow hive.

Do you have a little bit of wax foundation to get them started? Otherwise alternate the foundationless with your Nuc frames in the Flow hive when you move your bees in. Check weekly to make sure they are building straight comb and remove any comb going off at weird angles.

Semaphore is correct about the Nuc box, you should be able to leave them for a month or two. But leave it a week or two and then put into the big hive. I think you’ll find that your bees will be just fine.

Hi Kiwi, I have a slightly different approach in regards to the bees in the nuc box. I agree with the person who said they need to be moved quickly. The bees get claustrophobic very quickly. One thing you could do if possible, is make a wooden frame to sit on the nuc box. Say half depth, then put the roof on top of that. That will give the bees room to build up into (if they need it) while you sort your flow hive out. Admittedly, you’ll only get comb that will need to be destroyed later, but it could stop the bees from swarming. Also you might get a small jar of honey out of it, even if it isn’t fully ripe. It’ll still taste good.

I have one brood box done with Decking oil (I think Cabots but not sure) and I couldn’t see any in it that was harmful. This has be borne out in practice. The insides though never need painting or sealing or have any sort of protection as the bees will wax it anyway. I don’t think you will have a problem just awaste of time and money.
List the ingredients here and you will soon get an answer if ther eis anything harmful or google each your self with the tag “harmful to bees?”

With regard the missing roof pieces contact Flow Hive through the web site and send photo’s. They seem to be pretty prompt in replacements.

I used foundationless frames with a little starter strip of wood supplied with the Flow hive. I did put wire in though to support the cells in our very hot Summers. Had no problems and have since put on another Brood with only starter strip and wire which filled out nicely.
Foundation gives the bees hand up if your in a hurry and is probably more productive but I just like the thought of the girls doing their own thing, the way its been done for centuries. But that’s a personal preference. No science behind it.

The honey outside should be OK but others will be able to answer this with more authority. You have to be careful that it does not contain ants or have wax moth eggs on it… that would be my take on it.

Thanks busso. I moved my bees over to the flow brood box this afternoon so fingers crossed they will be ok. All 5 frames were all filled out and caked in bees and although I’m still learning, I’m guessing it was quite timely. Toes crossed they fill the extra frames out. I didn’t have a chance to shake them off and check each frame as it was starting to rain so might go in again tomorrow to have a closer inspection.

Did you alternate your foundationless frames with you built ones?

No should I have? Thought this was only when you increased to a second brood box ? Could i still do this tomorrow?

[quote=“Semaphore, post:2, topic:9850”]
You can definitely cover the hole on the inner cover- it is there for feeding and possibly ventilation. If you use it for ventilation you should cover it with some screen. I just put a small plank of wood to block mine
[/quote]. Have done that thanks

The base on the flow hive tilts backwards. Is this ok or do I need to correct it by putting something underneath that end?

Yes a plastic nuc box so have been a bit worried about overheating.

Hi Mel,

Paul here. The bees would be fine in the corflute nuc for a week or so. It’s full, but not too crowded.

No matter what you do, don’t checkerboard the frames (put empty foundationless frames between the brood). Our flow is almost over and you are way too far south. The bees will chill at night and you will lose all that lovely brood when the colony clusters. While where you live can get very hot during the day, it is also one of the coldest places in NZ at night.

Regarding the extra comb that I pulled off the inside of my swarm trap. I put it in a frame with rubber bands around it so you can put it straight into the new brood box right next to the brood. The bees will tidy this up and either eat the stored honey and pollen or build it out further (most likely) and you will have a beautiful foundationless frame.

I am a bit concerned with the flow brood box being painted with the water based stain and putting bees in it straight away. It really needs to cure and stop smelling. If the bees are looking amazing, then don’t worry, but if they are looking sluggish, take them back out and put them in the nuc box I gave you. These boxes are designed well and people over-winter colonies in them.

Cheers, Paul

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Ok great Paul, thanks for all of that. I didn’t want to be bothering you with all my questions hence using the forum instead. Was just a bit concerned about that comb after a good few days now. Will keep eyes on those bees in the morning to see if there is a change. I washed the flow hive down and dried it in the sun today. But you have got me worried now. It’s been pretty hot here the last couple of days and was getting quite concerned they would cook in that nuc box.

assuming its int the shade- I would have thought if anything there would be less insulation value in a box like that and it would help the bees stay cooler? I would have though them getting cold might be more of an issue?

The backward tilt is fine. It is only side-to-side tilt that impacts the comb-building.

Don’t worry, as others have mentioned the bees will be good in the nuc for a few weeks and this is governed by the extent the queen has laid and the food available for them. Remember the life cycle is only 6 weeks so new bees will constantly emerge faster than the old ones die at this time of year.

Secondly put the stained hives in the open air to cure and a wipe over with a cloth to remove any excess drips and they will be fine. I have successfully done all my timber in non toxic stain and then used tung oil(nut based) then allowed to dry and cure for 2 weeks and now they will last for years. The smell will virtually disappear in a week to 2 weeks and the wood is now preserved and will last a long time. On the large parts of the hive just wipe over some beeswax to make them happy. Consider people have been painting hives for years, often with lead based paints until a decade ago. I am sure the oil based stain is a much better alternative.
Thirdly in regard to foundation, it’s main advantage is time and effort. It gives the bees a head start and you can simply put the wired frames outside in the sun, place the foundation on top of them for 5 10 mins and gently press down and this will “glue” them together or if in cold inside conditions you can use a battery and prong poles(rod) made by Rainbow for about $30 to join them.
Beeutiful1 Melb Aust-Chris.

It was completely capped. Needs to be used in the hive or eaten!!

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Here is the nuc box that @Kiwi has. It’s a really good product and is used throughout NZ. Nuc colonies can live in them for long periods and even over-winter. There are now a few Chinese rip-offs that don’t compare that well.

Great insight into the boxes Paul. I’ve kept all the original filled out frames together to ensure the brood stays warm as you suggested with the extra frames on either side. Bees didn’t appear lithargic and in fact the opposite. They didn’t seem quite right though and after spending some time watching yesterday I noticed a couple of wasps and what might have been robber bees. I’ve closed up their entrance into the hive with polystirine leaving 2 centremetre space. They seem happier today and saw lots of bees returning with stores on the their legs. Opened up the box this morning to look for the queen but they got pretty angry even with some smoke and I only got through a couple of frames. Hopefully she’s there and laying her eggs! Just waiting on my sugar feeder to arrive (as you showed me) and I’ll start giving them a helping hand. Just need to find myself a local mentor but hopefully I can keep them going myself until then and I’m doing as I should be. In the meantim though, I am successfully irritating my hubby by all the YouTube videos!

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