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Flow hives & preventing swarming

I am considering a flow hive because of my age and the work involved with Langstrom One of my concerns before I would purchase one, is how to prevent swarms as it appears that you only put one flow super on a hive and with the Langstrom hive I would put as many as 6 to 8 medium supers during nectar flow on hive just to keep up with the growing population of bees in the hive.

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Hello David, welcome to the forum. Iā€™m not sure what age you are but beekeeping involves lifting heavy things including the honey super from the flow hive. You might want to consider a long lang or top bar hive which are a bit less lifting heavy. The emphasis here is that if you were thinking you donā€™t have to lift the flow hive super that would be wrong. You need to remove it for inspections of the brood box below just in a Langstroth hive. The amount of bees in a bee colony that you are concerned with is about how many brood boxes you have, not how many honey supers you have. So when you see other beekeepers with multiple boxes, what you canā€™t see from the outside is if they are 1 brood box on the bottom or more (I have 2 brood boxes for example) that are separated by a Queen Excluder that keeps the queen down in the brood chamber and out of the honey super. The queen excluder then ensures the quantity of bees that the queen can expand in the current size is somewhat contained. Now, that leads us to have more discussion on swarms; swarming is a natural bee instinct in all colonies and no matter how many brood boxes you have it is something you have to stay on top of. They could swarm as they run out of space, something is wrong inside the colony, or a host of other reasons. So if you are getting into beekeeping do more reading up on the entire experience, and I highly recommend you find a beekeeper you like near you to first learn from for 1 season before jumping in so that you donā€™t end up frustrated. It is a great hobby, but takes a lot of patience and it is always more fun with a knowledgeable buddy to work with / consult with.

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Hello and welcome to the Flow forum!

It sounds like you have quite a bit of experience with beekeeping already. In your region, I would manage the brood boxes just as you do with a traditional Langstroth hive. I use double deeps for brood.

For the super, a Flow super may be sufficient on its own, because you can harvest it repeatedly during the season, as soon as the frames are mostly capped. You donā€™t have to harvest the whole super at once - that is part of the advantage of a Flow super.

If you have a very heavy nectar flow, and high humidity, the bees may not cap the Flow frames quickly (same as a traditional super), so in that case, I put an empty medium (with frames of foundation) on top of the Flow super. They will usually cap the Flow frames within a few days after that, and they can be drained to make more room. Easy peasy! :wink:

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From what you have described here dlpsjp I suspect you are an experienced beekeeper.

If your brood rearing traits of hives are as described, then you may have to have many more Flow supers on your brood box/boxesā€¦and you are correct in wondering how to fit that many bees in just one or two Flow supersā€¦they wonā€™t. We typically run 5 Flow supers (7 flowframes per modified 10 frame Langstroth box) on a single brood chamber resulting in this configurationā€¦this is for single queen hive management.
As you likely know, queen excluders become honey excluders in this scenario if two brood boxes are used.

FH full to the nuts

As far as swarm control measures in this setup, we place that well established laying young queen in that single box with only her broodā€¦no feed framesā€¦and at least two or three frames of foundationā€¦this is earlier in the season. Then as the main flows hit, everytime after we drain the Flow supers we strip them down to the brood boxā€¦do an inspection which always involves removing outside feed frames and inserting more foundation into the brood box. This is repeated once more on a year when alot of honey is coming in. Very seldom is hive able to swarmā€¦regardless of strength. This method has to be adapted to your area as Iā€™m not familiar with those conditionsā€¦but thatā€™s what we do. I wouldnā€™t want to operate a large number of hives in this fashionā€¦but itā€™s fine for about up to a 20 hive operation in our conditions. Drained flow supers are manageable for weight.

Frames of pollen and honey removed from the brood boxes are fed back to the bees in the fall and following springā€¦they are nice to have around.

Hope this gives you some ideas.

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Welcome to the forum David where you will find good advice and tips to consider.
My climate is sub-tropical so warmer than yours but my thoughts are that you will need to remove the super for regular inspections of the brood box. So if the weight is a consideration of a super box full of honey then a half depth super is a good option.
With a Flow Hive you can extract any frames that are at least 80% capped, and you can do the same with a Langstroth super. I only multi stack supers when there is a massive flow happening and I canā€™t extract fast enough. There is no advantage in stacking supers on a hive for the bees, except possibly for Winter stores in a really cold climate.
Cheers

Hereā€™s a photo of a beeyard of a 2nd generation commercial beekeeper in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan (next province east of Alberta where we run bees)ā€¦mid summer. He is a good honey producerā€¦reporting average yields of 500lbsā€¦from a combination of canola (rapeseed) and second cut alfalfa (farmers donā€™t cut the 2nd cut alfalfaā€¦too far north). Just trying to imagine the results of running those hives with one or two Flowsupers :worried:ā€¦under ideal conditions he reports 30lbs/day/hive weight gains.

Hereā€™s another photo of hives headed by the well recieved Saskatraz queensā€¦genetically developed in the same province of Saskatchewan, Canada and the genetics are used by California, USA queen rearers. This province of Saskatchewan has become a hotbed of innovation in the beekeeping industry.

Saskatraz queens

A lot ā€¦but not allā€¦of these commercial guys winter their hives in singles.

Perhaps dlpsjp will enlighten us to his conditions as he sounds like he uses multiple supers.

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benefit of multi stack is for the bee keeper when there is a really strong flow happening when the bees are making honey faster than the bee keeper can do extractions. I used to remove boxes from multi stacks by pulling the truck up next to the hives and working of the back of the truck. No cranes back then, it was hard ā€˜yakkaā€™ work.
Cheers