Flow Hive for an established hive with two ten frame supers

In preparation for the upcomeing spring season after I receive my Flow Hive, I have some questions and concerns that I hope I can get help with to prepare for my new flow hive. I started my very first hive in June of this year. The hive was started from a five frame Nuc. After transferring my Nuc to a ten frame super my bees grew very quickly and have outgrown the first ten frame super. Upon advice from a local beekeeper I added a second ten frame super and the bees have built out most of the top ten frame super. After last check the bottom box was full of brood and capped honey. The top ten frame supper appeared to be filling up with honey only. I did not see any brood in the top box. My intensions are to leave the hive alone for winter and leave plenty of honey for my new hive to winter with her in Southern Illinois. Winters can get very cold. I am taking the necessary steps to prep the hive for a winter season with the advice of our local beekeepers. I would assume the bees will use the honey in the top box for nourishment during the winter season.
A couple of concerns that hive and would like advice on as no one around has any experience with the new flow hive system:

  1. Should I remove the top ten frame super and replace with my new flow hive during the spring season so that the bees will fill it with honey instead of trying to fill the top box and then move to the flow hive.

  2. What should I do with the top super if there is still honey remaining? Can I try to split the hive and start a second hive by removing some of the brood frames from by bottom super and mix with the frames of honey from my top super?

  3. Should I leave the top super to keep the bees from swarming and place the flow hive on top of my second ten frame super instead of removing and splitting the hive? Under this scenario I would have two ten frame supers then my flow hive for a total of three boxes.

Any additional thoughts and or comments outside of the questions asked would be greatly appreciated. I plan on adding up to three more hives and flow hives for a total of four and would like to do it correctly the first time. Thank you in advance for your time and responses.

Brad Henshaw



  1. When you say the brood is in Supers do you mean the Deep brood box or Medium Supers??? If they are on Supers you need to put a Brood Box with the Queen in for her to lay the winter brood below the Honey then a Queen excluder to keep her in the brood area - these should be drawn out frames so she can lay brood straight away
  2. Are the current Hives Wooden or Poly?
  3. There is no way going into winter you will now fill Flow Frames - Wait until Spring
  4. There needs to be sufficient capped Honey going into winter for the winter brood which will be laid late Sept into October
  5. When the Spring flow starts and your Queen is laying brood then is the time to add the Flow Frames yes you can do your suggestion #3 or
  6. If there is Honey left at the end of the winter - that Super can come off to be harvested or stored for next winters Feed - Freeze if you want for next years winter
  7. Too late to split now wait until the queen has full Brood frames in Spring - keep eye out for supercedure cells

What happened to your bee keeper friend - surly they would help?

Don’t be doing anything just now.
It’s good that they have decent stores to get through the winter.
Next spring is the time to be getting your colony into a brood box.
DO NOT put a queen excluder in between the brood and the stores for winter prep.
The bees will move up to the stores and leave the queen behind to die or refuse to move up and remain with her and starve.
Let them draw new brood frames next year.

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if it is on 2 supers they wont have enough brood room?

Southern Illinois…I am not familiar wit the climate there but Brad seems to be talking of configuring his box for Winter so I presume he is in Autumn, as we are here in the UK?
In an established colony with a laying queen (a bit different for a newly mated one, I admit) the brood nest will be contracting and the brood he has now will not increase( what I mean is that the amount of brood is past its Summer peak, yes more bees are made but the size of the brood nest decreases) so if the colony is happy in two supers I would leave it there.
They will use all that honey, really. The super will be empty next Spring and the queen will be up there laying.

My plan was to place the Queen excluder above my second super and add my Flow Hive to that. My concern is that I will lose honey to the second super while they try to replenish it first. I am trying to build a strong hine. This seems to be a long expirment. I appreciate the comments as I am new at this.

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I have a suggestion, how about moving honey under the brood boxes. I saw this idea in YouTube. Makes the treck shorter for the bees instead of having to move all the way up and back down.

Careful Shawn, you could start a revolt… :blush: the method you speak of is the Warre’ hive method. You may have some difficulty keeping the queen and brood out of your super unless you use a queen excluder which may have the advantage of preventing her from leaving the hive and swarming. But there are some disadvantages of which the likes of @Michael_Bush will have an expert opinion on.

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I was concerned the brood was split over 2 supers rather than a single brood box which will be warmer in winter. so long as the “rugby ball” configuration of the brood is present but over 2 super they may have put stores in an arch on both frames meaning the brood area is split??

FYI - @bhenshaw - the brood should resemble (roughly) the shape of a Rugby ball - 3D and the nectar/honey and pollen on the outer edges in an arch. If you were to visually slice through the brood area at any point. As you are across 2 layers of frames there should still be a resemblance of a 3D ball if you were to visually take out the frame structure - does that make sense?

if it is one box is is a super or Brood size - might make a difference

First, let’s clarify some terminology. Unfortunately some of the bee catalogs have taken to calling deeps “brood boxes” and mediums and shallows “supers.” In reality any box you put over the brood nest is a “super”. Any box you put under the brood box is a “nadir.” Super is just English (derived from Latin) for "above. Nadir is English (derived from Arabic Astronomy terms) for “lowest” or “below”. So any box can be a super, if it’s above the brood nest and it’s intent is to collect honey. Any box can be a brood box if it’s intent is to be the brood nest. My typical hive is a stack of eight frame mediums and there will be brood in four or five of those boxes at the peak of the build up. With ten frame deeps there will be brood in both boxes at the peak of the buildup.

Now let’s discuss the typical arrangement of boxes. In North America the typical hive overwintering in the far North is two ten frame deeps. This is usually consider the brood area. In the peak of the season the queen is often laying in both. Going into winter usually one is full of bees and the other is the stores needed for winter. I run all eight frame mediums and two ten frame deeps is the equivalent of four eight frame mediums or three ten frame mediums. By the time you get to about Tennessee people overwinter in a ten frame deep and a medium or a deep and a shallow. By the time you get to Georgia they are overwintering in one ten frame deep. I would pick the configuration that is typical for your climate and get that occupied and filled by the bees before adding the Flow frames. I would also leave them that over winter and, at least in colder climates, remove the Flow frames for winter. The reason I would remove them is I don’t want the bees clustered for the winter somewhere that the queen won’t want to lay, and indeed, should not lay. Come later winter (in beekeeping terms. I supposed anytime after the winter solstice…) the bees will need to start raising a small patch of brood and shortly after that batch of brood they will kick into full brood rearing. Here that is probably going to happen in February for the small patch and March (probably whenever the Maples are blooming and the bees can get to them) for the full on brood rearing. When that happens I want them on brood comb.

You can use an excluder over the brood area (two ten frame deeps or equivalent in the North down to one in the deep south) and if you don’t allow a lot of drone comb in the brood nest, you will need to use the excluder.

I have considered, but have not had time to do the experiment, putting the Flow frame box on the bottom. I’m not sure what the outcome will be since their instincts are to store honey over the brood. But this would have the advantage that perhaps I could even leave it on over winter since mine always winter int he top box and I wouldn’t have to move the Flow frame box to inspect the brood. I’m just not sure what the bees will do under that exact set of circumstances. Their instincts will be in a contradiction and that can lead to inconsistent results and/or indecision.


With brood on top and the Flow hive underneath the following instincts are at play:
The bees want to store capped honey over the brood nest. So will they store it over the brood nest and therefore contract the brood nest too much and swarm? Or will they give up and use the space at the bottom (the Flow frames) that are not useful for raising brood?

With the Flow frame cells too deep for any brood and too wide for worker brood, will they just accept that that is the “available space” in which to store honey? Or will the instinct to put it overhead prevail?

I won’t know until I try it, and even then one colony may not make the same decision as another colony where there are contradictory instincts at play.


As a new beekeeper this just keeps getting more confusing. Someone asked if I had ordered or was receiving a complete flow hive or just fames and box. I will have a complete flow hive.
From all the reading and comments, thank you everyone for the input, it may seem logical to evaluate my hive this spring and look at two options.
Option 1.) Leave the hive as is and in the spring add my queen excluder then the flow hive.
Option 2.) Split the hive and add the flow hive to the one of the boxes. This may lead to purchasing an additional flow hive for my second hive.

I have established my hive in a way to help ensure that my bees winter well here in Southern IL and have plenty of food to make it through the cold months. I guess I would be willing to give up some honey during the prime production time in order to have bees year after year.

If I split my hives at the correct time in the spring, would purchasing a queen for the new hive be the correct thing to do?

If you can make a queen
A) It will be local queen and suited to your climate
B) Could always do a walk away Split with eggs or 1-2 day old larvae (no Older) brood from existing Queen
C) Wait for a supercedure cell or 2 and put them in a Nuc with Nurse bees

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Hi Brad, can I make a suggestion that you don’t consider splitting your hive. This is not something a new beekeeper should be attempting with new bees as there numbers are just not sufficient enough in the first season. Work with the bees you have and let them build up to be a strong colony. Also, do not add the Flow Super until you know there is a nectar flow and your bees have built up their numbers and are covering at least 75% of the frames in your brood box. Michael makes some really good points in his explanation for 1 or two brood boxes, make sure you seek some advice for your local area.

Absolutely. Brood and a half is common in the National format.