Idea for hive prep (winter in Northeast US)

Hello! I am very happy to report that after failing to get my girls to use the flow super last year I now have my flow frames 50% plus fulled and capped. I’m in Upstate NY and I want to ask you if what follows seems a sensible strategy
I will harvest and allow the bees to clean the flow frames, then remove the entire flow super.
I have a medium deep that I was thinking I would put on top of the one brood box existing. I would let them use the September flow season to build up stores for winter.
Does this make sense? These bees look very happy and healthy and productive and Id like to make sure they are set up well going into winter.

Thanks in advance everyone–very excited to do my first “draw” next Saturday!


It all depend on that you call winter Greg. Check with local bee keepers as to what they do and follow their advice.
My winter means wearing jeans and a sweat shirt when working on my hives and it lasts about 2 months of cool weather but the bees never miss a days foraging unless it is raining.
Before reintroducing your flow super in the spring melt some bees wax and paint the frames on both sides so the bees will go up into the flow super, spraying sugar water just doesn’t cut it, after they collect the sugar water they will loose interest in the flow frames.
A whole lot of colonies are lost over winter because they have run out of honey and starve or the hive is too big for them to heat over winter, both of these problems can be planned for and set in place for a strong hive when Spring comes.
Regards and enjoy your honey but remember to make sure there is some for the bees.

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Hi Greg,

So are all the frames half full and half capped? Perhaps some are almost completely full but others with not much in them?

Good plan. Just harvest each frame in about 20% segments, advancing the key every 5-10 mins to avoid flooding the hive.

Ermm, it would be better for them to have 2 deep brood boxes in your climate. Failing that, you will have to feed and ‘baby’ them overwinter = insulation, perhaps moisture quilts etc. I am not telling you that you shouldn’t put the medium on - go for it. However, you need to watch your bees closely for starvation over winter and into spring. Actually in your region, late March is one of the highest risk times for starvation - late frosts = no nectar at a time when the hive has a lot of bees.

I don’t want to rain on your parade, just caution you to think of the bees too. :blush:


What is a medium deep?

Is what you are going to give the bees for winter already drawn out with comb hopefully?
If whatever box you’re putting on top is already drawn, do it and be prepared to feed them until that box is full: Do not count on the fall flow.

How is the mite load?


Hi Red,

Im sorry i dont have the vocabulary accurate yet, the super is 19-7/8-inch length by 14-inch width by 6-5/8-inch height, smaller than the brood box i have from Flow.

The brood box is full and healthy, mite load very low.

What Im asking is if it is a good idea to add this box in August so that the bees can fill it with brood and honey, or is it bestir to just keep the one brood box after removing the flow super in the next week to 10 days.

Thx- Greg

We have tough enough winters (Albany area of NYS) March this year was brutal.

Add the box you have and if they fill add another. You could feed 2 to 1 sugar syrup and hope for good fall flow.

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Sounds like you are asking about adding a 1/2 depth brood box for the winter which will help the bees but it may not be enough, check with local bee keepers. Some area that are really cold run double brood boxes and a 1/2 box above that for honey storage if the bee numbers are strong enough to maintain the brood temperature.

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Ok now one more dumb question- If I add this1/2 deep box do I place it on top of the established brood box ( Full size) or underneath?


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On the top of the brood box Greg, bees are reluctant to store honey under the brood area. No question is dumb if you don’t have the answer mate.
Tick the heart to turn it red shows us you understand the answer and appreciate the help


You could harvest the flow frames into separate jars and use a refractometer to find out if there is honey at or below 18% water content.
The rest of the honey you could freeze and feed back to the bees when times get tough end of winter. Good reserve considering you are just hoping to get the medium box filled when you likely should have two deeps.
Your plan is good. I’m not familiar with your climate and we don’t have mites.
Just watch the stores over winter and keep some honey to feed back to the bees. Wishing you the best of luck!

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Hi Greg! Eva from PA here, where winters are cold enough to warrant double deeps and then some extra help with moisture, wind & feeding, so I’m certain your bees will too up there in Albany! :wind_face::snowflake::snowman:

I’m copying your quote there to make sure it’s clear that we are all talking about the same thing, especially among you & any local beekeepers you can get advise & help from- that measurement is for what we call a MEDIUM langstroth box. Deeps are exclusively used as brood boxes because of their large size, but mediums can be used as additional brood boxes OR as supers - supers being placed above (super is Latin for above) the brood area and meant for honey storage that we as beeks would harvest.

So what this means for you is that, to be sure of doing your best to help your bees prepare for winter, you must allow a new colony to build a home that fills two deeps, or a reasonable equivalent of deep & mediums. I won’t drive you crazy with the math on use of 8-frame vs 10-frame boxes. So, instead of the Flow super, you should have placed a second brood box on as soon as your first one was filled to let’s say 80% comb, brood. stores and hatched workers.

From your info so far I’m gathering that you will only have one deep for the bees to overwinter in. Not ideal, but if beekeepers are anything, they are can-do folks - so let’s not give up hope on winter survival!

A few realities to keep in mind: adding a box - medium or any size at this point in the season is well-meaning, but as some have indicated, unlikely to work. I didn’t see an answer to Red’s question about your frames that you want to add - as he said, they should already have drawn comb at a minimum. It takes a very strong nectar flow for bees to build new comb. So if you’re wanting to put this second brood box on with empty frames, it’s not likely to get filled in time, if it can even be fully built with comb in time :thinking:

To me, it sounds like you should go ahead with your plan to harvest your Flow super - since this equipment wasn’t made for overwintering in harsher climates and you’ll need to store it in a protected place as you said. Plan to do it on the later side of summer to give it the best chance of fully ripening, and then do as Dan said and check whether this honey can be shelf stored or if it needs to be frozen. Either way, I’m going to urge you to use it to feed it back to your bees. If there is maybe a small jar you want to savor for your hard work, go ahead - but your bees need it more :wink:

Glad you posted & I hope this response is not too lengthy or preachy :hugs: Let us know how you make out!


Peter, I’ll click on the heart. Sorry to go off topic, however the perfect storm for swarming is brewing down here. How about up there? I’m dragging frames from above my ceiling that have been sitting there for over 15 years. I’m lucky to have a supply of foundation on hand that’s fast dwindling. I’m using cardboard as a bottom board & roof on one nuc box. cheers

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Hey Jeff, I have done a couple of splits and taken frames of honey. All my hives have supers added which has given the bees work to do and calmed them down again so the supers went on at the right time.
I took 8 frames of honey from the ladies hive that has 2 supers on it and like with my own hives the bees are going strong.
Just wish my eyes were better to see the queens when doing splits. A bit of logic and a bit of pot luck and I am getting by.
As all my queens are new I am not finding any sign of queen cells except where I have done a split, which tells me which hive has the queen. Busy times have begun and average temps are saying Spring is here.

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I have had single deeps with combination brood and honey make it through winter without issue, and as i said I was unable to get the bees to accept and fill the flow frames last summer. we are not experiencing a dearth ( aug 10) wet, and abundant flora and honey production is high. My plan is to harvest tomorrow from flow frames, do the cleanup by putting the top cover over the brood box and flow super on top of that for a few days, then add the medium with 8 frames waxed foundation immediately after and I’m hoping that will be able to be “built out” and filled with whatever they choose by end of sept ragweed flow? Regardless I will absolutely use honey to feed back as my goal is more husbandry and learning than getting a few “easy” jars of honey for myself. Thank you Thank you all. You have not been preachy!

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Single deep brood chambers work if you keep after them, even in the north:

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Nice hat, by the way :sunglasses::v: