Getting ready for the autumn/winter

Hi All on flow hive forum,

So my bees just started to add I’m assuming nectar in the flow frames. I think I put the flow Super on a little too early but in any event they have started. we are at the end of August coming into September which autumn is around the corner, I have purchased a shallow frame and brood box to put on my hive for the bees to store what they need for the winter.

My first question is do you think there is enough time to allow the bees to finish filling and capping the flow frames and possibly harvesting some honey.

My second question when should I add the second brood box?

My third question is, I think I know the answer but would prefer to ask, do I remove the queen excluder?

My fourth question is should I feed my bees to help them along through the winter and if so it the ratio 1 sugar to 1 water or is it 2 sugar to 1 water.

My last question is should I wrap my hive with some type of insulation if so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry for all the questions. Any ideas or help would be greatly appreciated.


This is also my first year keeping bees and I have been thinking about this quite a lot myself. I’ll write in what my plan is and the experts can weigh in to redirect us both. I started with a 5 frame nuc of Italians at the beginning of June, which was later than I wanted.

I think you should remove the flow super and add your second box immediately. You can feed them back the nectar from the flow frames now or save it for the winter. I only have two deep brood boxes which are mostly all drawn and full of nectar, pollen, and a lot of capped honey (or sugar syrup that I was feeding them earlier in the summer).

I’d add it now. If you have some drawn comb from somewhere that would be a big help. But if you don’t, I think feeding them syrup would help. Some seem (even in our climate) to have success with a single brood box but they are committed to feeding the bees fondant from mid winter until the nectar flow starts.

There should be no excluder between the brood boxes so the queen can move up to the upper box with the rest of the cluster.

I think you’ll have to if you want them to draw and fill the second box. If they don’t fill it up enough then it will just be more dead space for them. I fed mine until the second box was almost all drawn because the major nectar flow for my area ends mid-June (even though there may be significant nectar from suburban ornamentals and from aug-sep goldenrod and aster). The other question for the experts is if there are enough large brood cycles remaining to get enough bees to have to keep all the hive volume warm and guarded. From what I read on scientific beekeeping the sugar:water ratio isn’t that important.

Syrup for drawing foundation

I did what @Michael_Bush and others have recommended and used 5:3 sugar:water.

Michael Bush bee feeding

I’m going to wrap mine, have a quilt box under a ventilated roof. I figure it can’t hurt and should reduce the amount of condensation on the insides of the hive and the quilt box will hopefully reduce top condensation and dripping while still allowing vapor to escape through the ventilated roof. The location of my hive is well protected from the wind. Otherwise, consider some sort of wind break.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and have a very mild winter like last year. You guys probably are about the same temperature as us here in Ohio but I bet you get a lot more snow - which seems to be good (insulation) and bad (block hive entrance). Make sure your stand is high enough and maybe make a sort of awning to keep the snow away from the front of the hive and the entrance.


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I’m replying in separate threads as this is going to be more challenging doing it together. Mike, I’m sorry to give you a bit of a kick in the pants here but in your (and my) climate you are going to have a colony loss if you install another brood box and/or a medium now. You don’t say how long you have had these bees but if they are just now storing nectar in the flow super you are unlikely (and shouldn’t) expect an extraction this season. You might be tempted to if things look good in late September in some of the frames but frankly you are not taking care of the bees unless there are 3 full frames of honey capped in the brood box first and all the frames are drawn out and filled with bees. My advice is to let the bees have what is there and stand back for the winter. Do not remove your queen excluder but take the flow hive off for the winter. When you go to feed after you take the flow hive off then you feed 2 sugar to 1 water. If you make it thicker in your climate the bees likely won’t take it. Wrapping your hive is something you should ask your local beekeeper group because every regional climate has nuances that are best advised by local people. I wrap; I’m near Detroit.


Mostly agree with @Tim_Purdie. :blush:

No. The Flow super should probably go on in March or April. If it isn’t full by now, it probably won’t be this year.

Before you add the Flow super. If they don’t have one now, it is too late.

By September, yes.

I agree with @chau06, Michael Bush’s formula is perfectly fine year round. However, once your night time temps get below 55°F, the bees may stop taking it, so you will need to switch to candy or solid sugar.



Hi Tim_Purdie,
I started out with a five frame Noc box on 15th and they have grown tremendously, my last inspection was the day I put my flow super on a month or so go and there was one frame left to be drawn out I do you think I overreacted as a new beekeeper but it’s on now. So what you are saying is you suggest that I do not put the medium brood box on after I remove the flow Super and when the time comes in September leave whatever honey they’ve stored and remove the queen excluder.

I get the same whether you yet I am in New York State. I was talking with one of the local commercial beekeepers who I purchased my honey from but once I told him I had a flow hive he seem to have shut down so I just stop asking him questions.

I think I will wrap my hive when the time comes and he suggestions what type of insulation I should use?

Michael Smart,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Hi Chou06,

Thanks for your reply, this is my first your also, what insulation do you use. This is what my last inspection frames looked like


Hi Mike; I see your picture of frames below and have reviewed this post. Installation of the Nuc on the 15th of July? The one frame that is foundationless is not fully built out and if the other frames that weren’t yet built out are in similar shape I stand by what I mentioned earlier. You super’d too early with the flow hive. I would absolutely leave the setup as it is until you are ready to do fall feeding and then replace the flow hive super with your top feeder as mentioned. Take the flow super indoors for the winter however built out it is and just keep it from pests/freezing temperatures. If you have a basement that has a window for light that can shine into the flow frames that would be a good idea. You don’t want to have wax moths move in (that is why light is important) or get mice/etc moving into it in storage. If you just got your nuc in July you don’t want too much space for overwintering the colony as they really aren’t full strength going into winter. Monitor the brood box to ensure it is fully comb built edge to edge before considering a medium super to go on; but again I don’t think there is time for them to build out comb and store nectar/honey and cap it before winter arrives at this point. I’m just trying to save you disasterous results. And I hope you are treating for mites before winter…

Wraps: I use a wrap called Beecozy which is essentially insulation inside thick poly black garbage bag-like material. I’ve seen others use rigid insulation boards wrapped around that work well too. It’s important there is air movement at the front entrance only (or at least only facing the front of the hive) and that you don’t put the wraps on too early. Monitor the weather— we get snow about Halloween so that is about the time I put them on otherwise they eat the honey stores a bit too early and then you need to top feed fondant or similar to get them through winter.


No, I got my bees May 15, July is when I put the flow super on. I agree I am sure I put the float super on too early I guess I have beginner anxiousness if that’s a thing. So for now leave everything the way it is and when I am ready to feed take the flow super off and leave the one brood box. I am going to inspect my brood box this weekend since I have not done it since July. I will send some updated photos of how everything looks.

Thanks again Tim greatly appreciate your help.

I have not Started treating for mites, I check the tray every weekend and I have not seen any should I put oil in the try to catch any mites. Or is there a different type of treatment I need to look into?

I have plenty of 2” rigid insulation. I will monitor the weather as we get closer to winter and I’m assuming once the temperature gets below 40°F or lower I put the wrap on.

May is much better than July for a nuc to build up for sure. I hope you have been inspecting every 2-3 weeks and not going longer in between inspections? The one frame in the pic that is foundationless and newer should have been fully build out by now and because it isn’t I’m a bit concerned. I see a lot of drone comb on that frame instead of mostly worker capped brood, and not a ribbon of honey and/or pollen around it. When you inspect this weekend try to take a photo of both sides of every frame and then post. It will help us see what you see and give you better advice. I think I saw your queen on the far right in the pic with the screen grab on your phone btw. Maybe I’m wrong but it looks like a queen.

Beginner excitement is a real thing and I was exactly the same. Which is why coming here and asking is smart and good even though you get spanked sometimes :slight_smile: .

If your brood box is bursting with bees and the comb is fully edge to edge you have a game day decision about adding a medium on top of the brood box AND adding a top feeder (do not use the front entrance ones, they promote robbing and you don’t want that this time of year). You need to get your treatment plan ready fast for mites.


That may be her I didn’t find her until the last inspection I did when I was going to install the flow super. Prior to installing the flow super I did inspect the hive every two weeks after I put the Nuc into the flow hive.

I am going to inspect the hive this weekend so will post the pictures of all of the frames front and back and then you could advise whether or not or when I should add the medium bird box.

Should I treat with oil in the tray or should I purchase traps.

Thanks again.

Hi mate, see your queen in the last photo?

@Tim_Purdie was suggesting to test and treat for Varroa Mite. The traps you are asking about are a way of controlling SHB. Click on the magnifying glass on the top right of your screen and type “varroa Mite treatment and tests”, they are different problem and way treating if you need to.
The last photo shows the queen on the right of the frame. I’m not seeing any honey on the brood frames where honey is normally stored first in the top corners of brood frames so when you do your next inspection I would check the Flow Frames for any stores there, maybe the action you have seen is the bees sealing up the gaps in the Flow Frames. You may have to consider feeding over the Winter if the colony is low on stores.

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Hi Mike, I’m near Philadelphia PA and starting to aim my efforts toward winter prep now. Sorry to hear you got tuned out by local beeks, they missed a chance. Glad you posted here, you can count on and already got some great advice. I’m only wanting to emphasize it and add a couple other points:

Check your Flow frames carefully to see if it’s nectar in there or propolis. Brand new ones need a considerable amount of waxing before nectar can be stored. If there isn’t going to be enough time and forage to prepare and fill it, the bees know and will start sealing all the seams with propolis instead - you do not want this in your Flow frames. Very laborious to clean.

Varroa is everywhere in the US, don’t be fooled by any lack of appearance on the bottom tray or on bees themselves. It’s not too late to treat your hive, but do some reading and choose your plan of action. It’s a must :sweat_smile::+1:


Hi Peter48

:man_facepalming: Varroa Mites now I understand. Didn’t know I had to treat start testing for them until I saw them. I guess I could test this weekend to see if I have any. I will send pictures this weekend.

Thanks again!!!

Michael Smart,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

I doubt you would see them on a bee with the naked eye Mike. They are way smaller than a SHB. The normal test is with icing sugar or with alcohol. Do some research as I described and if you haven’t done a test so far it is very likely you will have it in your hive. We don’t yet have it in Australia but I have done research because sooner or later odds are it will get here to give us another problem. Varroa can knock a hive about badly or even wipe it out.

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Hi Eva,

They have sealed the flow frames with propolis. I wonder if they are working on the middle frames first. Maybe that’s why I am just starting to see them store nectar in the middle frame only.

I will know more this weekend and take a bunch of pictures and post.

This is a great forum and I have received some great advice from everyone.

Thank you!!

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Yes, bees will build comb & store food or raise brood from the center of their space outward, in an oval or sort of spherical manner.

It’s nice to see nectar coming in, but propolis is not what you want and if you’re seeing it you should take the Flow super off ASAP. If the frames have a lot of propolis on them, you will not be able to operate them properly going forward. They’ll need careful cleaning first, which can be done but is not a fun project.

If possible, please post some pics of your Flow frames so we can help you further :wink:


This one?

That is her Fred, want a job in spotting my queens mate? I still find them but it takes longer in time and some squinting. :wink:

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