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Flow hive vs traditional - the story so far


#1

So up here in the Perth Hills we finally have a flow on! We checked the bees today and the good news is that they have all been working hard in the last 2 weeks. The bad news is that all is not even!

We are running single brood boxes then a queen excluder and single super. 2 hives with flow supers and one a traditional super - all from different sources (so my experiment is a bit floored :)).

The hive with the traditional super has 8 frames of fabulously solid brood. In the last 2 weeks they have drawn out the entire Super and are filling it with nectar. We removed a couple of brood frames from checkerboarded and added a flow super with the hope they will take to it! A few of the frames have some drone cells and interestingly the frame which was foundationless to begin with is probably about 50% drone. We have left that alone, as there are no queen cells & plenty of larvae but will be checking in a week in case they are contemplating swarming.

The other two are very similar. The brood box is fully drawn with quite a lot of capped brood, a few larvae but the girls are really backfilling all cells with nectar. There are a few bees in the flow frames (which have had burr comb rubbed on them) and they are sealing gaps, but clearly there is no nectar storage and they desperately need more space. There are no queen cells but I am sure if we leave them like this they will surely swarm soon. We have therefore added a standard super to one, and are going to add a super to the other in the coming days when we have made the frames. Hopefully we have cought them in time to stop swarming - we will find out when we do our inspection next week!

I am at a bit of a loss with our bees. They have all drawn out many frames in the last couple of weeks, and surely it can’t require more wax to fill the gaps on the flow frames than draw new wax in it’s entirety. Hopefully our fabulous hive will take well to the flow frames and one waxed will no longer be a problem!

I am now confident we will have 3 traditional supers of honey for the girls come winter, Just not sure we’ll get to taste any from the flow frames - pretty dissapointing!

Cheers,

Julia


#2

Hang in there I am living proof it will happen.
Received our Flow hive Jan 2016
Bees in from NUC by Feb 2016
Many bees in Flow frames…but just that…many bees in Flow frames
Spring 2016 Unbelievable numbers in Flow frames … no honey
Mid Summer 2016-17 Bees galore but no honey.
Then late Jan 2017 just when the gloom and doom set in for the second honey season, wham bang thank you ma’am, the bees started putting honey in and had essentially filled the flow frames in 2 weeks.
Now I am grizzling they are slow to fully cap.

So you may not get anything this year, but they will start. Others have had bees take to them straight away. However the good news is that once they have used the Flow frames they keep using them.

One thing I did do while waiting for them to get to like the Flows was to on put a second brood box. Instead of putting the Flow super on I put a 2nd brood box to build up numbers. They filled the 2nd brood with brood, pollen and honey in about 2 weeks. When the 2nd brood box was near100% full I put on the flow super. Made no difference. The Flow super just filled with bees. I figure waxing and polishing the cells for the 101th time. Then a couple or 3 weeks ago they just started filling with honey. Coinciding with the huge marri bloom.


#3

I hear ya Jingles, I’m in the same boat. Our flow supers (hybrid) have been on since November and although many bees working the frames no honey. They start filling with nectar then the next morning empty… I have a few marri trees flowering on the block but few bees at them, they must have other sources.
The wax frames in the supers on either side of the FFs are drawn and filling with honey, they are even being capped however the FFs are always empty in the morning.
Why are you running two supers and one brood? Perhaps you could try putting the Flow box beneath the std super?
As the flow has just come to us here in the hills with a bit of luck it should go on longer.
It is a bit disheartening with all the flat landers extracting every couple of weeks though with nothing to show up here!
As Busso says it will happen I’m sure.
But if they do swarm…


#4

My master plan was always to have one standard super with honey for winter and one flow super for eating. I think my original email was rather confusing. I have added a flow super to my strong hive (which now has a traditional super & the flow on), and swapped the flow for a standard on the back-filled hive (which now has one brood and one super). I am a bit reluctant to add a second brood box as this will mean double the honey needed for winter. With the amazing flow I’m sure they could fill up any box I give them - they are just choosing to not use the flow super. I have no doubt they will get there, I just have to stop them from swarming until then!!!

Cheers,

Julia


#5

I’m in the same boat. But I have two full flows side by side with both vigorous colonies. Took the girls in hive #2 ages to fill some frames and the girls in hive #1 just won’t put more that a cup or two in. I use double brood boxes and they far prefer back filling the brood. I have tapped off three frames from flow hive #2 and it is wonderful stuff, but with traditional hives I get would usually 40kg… frustrating stuff!

On a side note: when I tipped hive #2 back to drain honey I discovered a pool of honey in many of the flow frame drains (below the plastic honeycomb) and I wonder if it is slowly but steadily draining back into the hive when the bees store their nectar… more investigation to be done, but this could answer a few of my questions as only three frames were ever fully capped. Our flow is finished here in Christchurch.


#6

So we are a week on and things are mostly looking up.

The hive that I moved up one frame of nectar into the flow super has an amazing number of bees and they are drawing out the flow frames and storing nectar in them! I am so happy how much they have achieved in just one week & would definitely recommend moving a standard frame up for a while to encourange the bees up into the flow super. On inspection of the brood, I saw one cup, that I am going to categorise as a play cup until I look next week. It was very shallow and empty, so I am not too worried. Perhaps the bees contemplated swarming, but have now decided they have more space with the flow super. The nectar flow is so strong here that we have added a traditional super on top to allow more storage space and let them build winter stores.

The other strong hive we put the flow super on is also ignoring it, so we have made that into a hybrid with a frame of nectar to see if that does the trick there too.

All in all a great bee week on the hill and my faith has been restored a bit in the flow system. We are a long way from getting honey, but the big battle of getting them to use the frames seems to be won :).

Cheers,

Julia