I have started a Flow hive this year here in Kansas, I was advised by the local expert to build a double brood box colony before putting my flow super on. I started with a 3 Lb. package, and currently the bottom brood box is full, and the top 8 frame brood box has 3 frames drawn out, I have no plans of putting the super on this year, it is Aug. 27th. I currently have a jar type hive from feeder that I intend to change to a hive top round shortly. My question is am I thinking right being here in Kansas, and do you all have any suggestions that will help me be ready for a Kansas winter?, should I feed in the winter?, and how do I inspect my hive in the winter? Thanks for anything you can help me with.
Jerry, welcome to the forums. I live in Ontario Canada and get wicket winters too so while your local beekeepers are the best source of advice for your climate I think we aren’t too far off what we experience to offer some support. Yes, double brood boxes make monster (good) colonies to over winter successfully. It is good to put 1:1 sugar on during a dearth (we have that currently going on) until the fall flow comes in play. The bees will ignore the feed when you have fall flow so you don’t have to worry too much about leaving the syrup mix out there at the same time. But as the weather cools, the feed should be more thick like 3 parts sugar to 1 part sugar so if you just add lots more sugar to the existing syrup if you have lots leftover then that is good. The idea is the bees shouldn’t have a lot of moisture inside the colony to pack on weight for the winter season. Lots of beekeepers add sugar patties on top-- there are lots of recipes you can find online that are mostly sugar, some sort of additive like cider vinegar and some small amount of water to make a 1" thick brick of sugar to put on the top (you would need a shim to space on top of the top hive and the inside cover so it is fully under the lid) as emergency food in case they eat all their food stores down in the two boxes below. Make sure you don’t have a queen excluder on in between the brood boxes or the queen can’t move up to the 2nd box with the other bees and be left to starve out. Do make sure you treat your bees soon-- Apivar strips (2 per brood box) is my go to for the fall along with Oxalic acid treatment in November to eliminate as many verroa mites as possible. If your hives aren’t elevated off the ground by about a foot or more then get them up or you may have mice enter or other critters create problems for you. To wrap/insulate your hives is a local choice-- I’ve done wrapping and not wrapping and can’t really say it makes a difference other than making me feel like I gave them the best support I could. I’ve lost hives every year, but less last year than the year before. This is a hobby that you have to have tough skin about as sometimes you do everything “right” and nature has something else in mind. BTW I never use feeders outside the hive entrance-- I use inside frame feeders or top feeders with a box around them and the lid on top to discourage robbing from other bees. We have a yellow jacket nightmare in our area going on currently so if I open fed or left feeders at the entrance they would decimate my colonies.
Take a picture and post of your setup-- its always awesome to see your yard and watch over the future years how things grow and change. 3 years ago I had 2 flow hives. Now I have 6, and 17 traditional Langstroth hives. Yup, they multiply fast!
Your explanation/beekeeping lesson is very clear and concise, Thank you very much, I intend to add a spacer on top so I can have a top feeder, im thinking the round top feeder that I see and hear about. I am trying to get it across to the owners that I am a novice beekeeper, and failures is common even for the pros, I do really like taking care of these bees, I have yet to decide if this is something I want to expand on, I take care of these for the company I work for, we have a 24 tree orchard, and Bees, I am very blessed to have the job I have, and the company I work for is the best in the nation, very few people knows of this hidden jewel of a company in wichita that I work for. You mentioned Oxalic acid treatment, that is something I need to start my research on, and get the required equipment, what month should a person do this treatment in? Apivar strips I have seen on the supplier’s sites. I am trying to learn when Wichita has its flows, and what they are, currently the bees are coming in with their legs loaded, but I have no idea what it is they are still downing the sugar water, but there is no doubt there is some flow going on. I can only post one image per post, so I will post a follow up with another image. Thanks again.
I understand it is not ideal to have these under a tree, but they get early morning sun, and the middle August heat isn’t just a killer on them with the shade, suggestions are welcome. Thanks
Awesome photos - things look dry there so keep on feeding them as they likely need the water source. Bees need a regular supply of water— they use it to help regulate the temperatures in the hive, in the development of wax from their bodies which is needed for fresh comb to store babies and nectar in and of course to cap the honey when that time comes in. Pollen baskets on their hind legs is a great sign things are going well with nutrition— sometimes there are so many foragers out there that they can fill up every available wax comb cell with pollen and nectar and leave little room for the queen to lay eggs (that’s called honey bound) and so you need to monitor how fast things are filling up. Keep a journal of sorts of what you are seeing and date it as in future seasons you will have some idea of what to expect based on the previous notes. It really does help by year 2 and 3 and beyond.
For when to treat, you really need a local resource to help you— you can’t use a lot of treatments while your honey supers are on so typically spring and fall before supers are on and after. I use Apivar, and today we have 94 degree temps and have not yet hit fall flow of golden rod so I’m planning on pulling supers off by the 3rd week of September and then putting in 2 strips of Apivar per brood box and leaving that for 6 weeks. Then using Oxalic in November before US thanksgiving. Typically we have our first snow fall on Halloween so I do the oxalic vapour treatment for 4 weeks around that time. And again I do that in April after all the snow is gone in March. Your local weather is your guide to when to treat. I monitor for varroa every month, and if I had a problem I would pull supers and treat then too but I have the luxury of being able to move my supers to other hives for the duration of treatments as needed and then return them after treatment.
Definitely get rid of the front entrance feeder— that is asking for trouble.
It is great to hear that your company is supporting this project; you are right that even the pros have things go sideways. It is a lot of learning in a short period of time, and I’m not sure we are ever done learning from our mistakes as we go. Don’t be hard on yourself, you are in good hands here with lots of friendly advice. You are doing great so far.
What about treating the ground around my hive for SHB? I see nematodes are commonly used? I read not to use any Apivar treatment until you perform a test sugar shake to confirm you have an issue with pest? Sorry about all the questions I am trying to go into the winter in good shape. Thanks
Not exactly commonly, but I like them. I would apply them in Spring though. The cold winter in Kansas will likely kill off a lot of SHB, and it will kill a lot of nematodes too. They are expensive ($40 or so), so no need to waste them. I would make sure that you have an SHB problem before you buy any.
That is pretty good advice, but I would be amazed if you didn’t have varroa mites. Still, you should know what the count is before you go for a full treatment.
And I don’t think sugar shake is really accurate; alcohol wash is better but obviously you lose some bees in that process.
As my treatment of choice is OAV anyway, I just do an accelerated mite drop count. That is very accurate too. However, you have to have the oxalic acid vaporizer to do that, and that is quite an investment.
Please take a look at my bottom trey, I know I have some larvae crawling around, and I see some flys, as well as SHB, I have purchased all the treatment items, and just waiting for it to come in. Please advise with your input. Thanks
Lots of wax moth poop, couple of wax moth cocoons, wax bits and some pollen. I suggest you clean it off a bit more often to stop wax moths from breeding there. I don’t see any SHB, but they are usually around the inner cover or the top of the hive. Maybe they are not in this photo.
Yes I seen SHB under the inner cover, not a lot of them but they are there, I will keep that trey cleaned off much more often. Thanks
I try to clean mine once a week, or at least every 2 weeks. For SHB, you have other good options. I squish them with my hive tool when I see them on the inner cover. Although it sounds gross, they don’t make a mess. The other thing is to use beetle traps. I use this one, half filled with Mineral Oil (doesn’t go rancid), and replace it when it has 10-20 SHB in it:
I see lots of varroa too.
This hive is brand new this year, middle of may when we put the 3 lbs. of bees in, is it usual to have varroa this soon? I have Formic Pro that will be here Monday, my supplier was out of apivar strips, should I take another approach Oxalic acid dribbled method? There is not another hive within at least 2 miles of my hive, did my package come infested? What a pain, im guessing this is what all you guys fight everyday, Thanks again for the help.
Yes it is. I installed 2 packages this year, and both have varroa. We are treating right now.
I prefer that when the bees are clustered - much colder weather. That would be waiting too long.
Maybe, maybe not. I bet there are feral colonies around you. I wouldn’t sweat it. In the US, we just have to deal with it.
I went, and checked on my bees this morning, and found that they were being robbed big time, I reduced the entrance down to about 3/8", but don’t have a clue what I am supposed to do the stop it. What do you do after you have been robbed out? I didn’t catch this unit about 10am so don’t know how long this has been going on, I am going to buy one of those entrances that keep the robbing to a minimum but wont have for a day or two. Guys I am open to suggestions, do all new beekeepers have all these issues that I have been having? or is it just my karma? Thanks
Varroa is endemic in most parts of the world (not Australia). This means that ALL colonies have it. Because the mite feeds off the bees fat body organ (their liver), uncontrolled varroa reduces the entire colony’s strength and ability to resist other infections and stresses.
Yes, this is the time of year for robbing in many places. Summer nectar is scarce and colonies still have big populations to feed. Robbers will pick on weaker colonies so the main way to avoid is to try to keep your colonies as strong as possible, keep the entrance small so that it can be defended. Be very careful if you are feeding the bees. If feeding, feed in the evening, never use outside feeders or spill syrup.
Once a strong hive identifies a weak target, it can be very difficult to stop robbing. Moving the hive more than three miles away, if that is possible, is one option that often works.
And yes, we all get these problems. Its part of beekeeping.
I just posted some photos on another thread. This hive is from a package installed in mid-April this year, from a very reputable supplier. It absolutely needed treating, even after less than 5 months:
If we hadn’t treated, it would have been a disaster. It still might be…
Great info, Dawn, so much to learn, over the last couple days I have actually had fun exploring and learning instead of worrying so much. My treatment tools came in the other day so I will be treating as soon as the the rain slows down. Thanks