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Getting ready for winter in Coastal California - Update Please


#1

I would like an update on how folks in moderate climates (without severe winters) are managing their Flow Hives for winter. Most of the what I can find that has already been discussed is quite dated and I wondered if there is any updated advice.

From what I can read, I should make my last Flow harvest, allow the bees a couple of days to clean out the Flow frames, and then put them into the freezer for about 48 hours to clean up before removing the Flow Box.

Currently, the configuration I have is 2 deeps, QE, Flow. At least 1/2 of the Flow frames are completely capped, maybe more. What would I do with those that are uncapped? Should I reduce those 2 deeps down to one?

Thank you!
Louise


#2

Hi Louise,

This is what I do in San Diego.

  1. Last harvest as you say (usually in August), then remove the Flow super, freeze the frames for 48 hours and store for next season.
  2. Assess stores and be prepared to feed if they are light. We had a terrible season this year with a very poor nectar flow, so I am sure that we will have to feed within the next month or so.
  3. Leave 2 deeps for brood - they need to use the stored food
  4. Once the super is off, do a Varroa mite count and treat at the end of the season. Counts were high last year, and very high this year, so treatment was definitely needed.

Now to address your specific questions.

Last year I brought them into the kitchen and drained them over a large cookie sheet. The reason was that I was concerned about leakage from the frame faces when there are no cappings to hold the honey and let it flow to the drainage channel. If you have freezer space to store them upright, I suppose you could just leave them frozen over winter. If don’t freeze, the honey may crystallize and then you will have a hard time opening the frames next season. Don’t lay them on their sides though. Even when in a freezer, honey can flow out of the cells.

I would not do that at the start of the winter. Let them have access to the stores, and then later, if the population has dropped a lot, they have used much of the food and they are having trouble with wax moths or SHB, try to condense them into one box.

That is all I do. I think for us, feeding and Varroa treatment are the most important aspects of winter management.

Hope that helps. :blush:


#3

It does help. I’m a little late in harvesting…but it is my second harvest this year. We had a better flow here than you did it seems. I just treated (for the second time this summer/fall) for varroa, so I think I’m good there. Thanks for the tips on the uncapped and the number of brood boxes. Sounds good!