My first year with a flow hive two years ago was AWESOME… everything went according to plan. Last year was a tough year around here for everyone’s bees, but this year we geared up for greatness… Sadly, the entire summer has gone with nary any interest in any one of my three flow hives. They’re producing in their own super, but nothing in the flow hive supers. I know that the conventional wisdom is to place the supers above the brood boxes, but I’m thinking of putting one of my flow hive supers on the bottom of the stack with a queen excluder and the brood boxes above. The thinking is that the increased traffic across the flow hive frames will increase interest in utilizing them for honey production. Any thoughts?
My thought is it’s August in Massachusetts: Time to prepare for winter.
A couple of thoughts for you.
- Bees generally (not always) like to extend brood downwards and store honey above. That is why the Warre hive system works. Although they will walk across the ‘nadired’ (not supered) Flow frames, they may not use them for honey.
- You need to think about your hive’s drones. How will they get out? Do you intend to make an upper entrance for them?
- Are the Flow supers new? Have you put any wax on them?
- Are the hives stuffed full of bees? They won’t use the super until there are enough bees.
Still no flow hive action - after a year
Inverting my Flow Hive super order
Can you please confirm if by “AWESOME” - this means you got some honey from your Flow Hive in past seasons?
I’ve read that bees don’t like stores below the brood and will move it up into the brood boxes rather than leave it there. I think it was Dave Cushman’s site. I was doing research on getting bees to clean out old honey filled brood frames so that you can cycle them out. I don’t think they will be more likely to fill the flow frames in that position. Did you have any hives with just flow supers on? Your post says ‘they are producing in their own supers’ . Does that mean you have a conventional honey super above the brood boxes then the flow super or were they just making honey in the brood boxes?
yup… first year as a keeper and they filled their own super out nicely and then filled out the flow hive… last year we had a weak hive, but this year with three hives, not one has any honey in the flow hive… very strange.
- yes, that’s one of the reasons I was concerned about doing it…
- good point… I’ll have to think about that
- a combination of new and last season frames that are fully waxed. I divided my first season frames among my three hives so that there are two old ones and 4 new in each of the supers.
- Not super stuffed… but a fair amount of bees, it’s just curious that all three hives are being ignored.
Putting a Flow Super under the brood won’t force the bees to store honey in it. As Dawn has said bees like to have the honey stored above the brood. You will now be ‘packing down’ for the winter but next spring trying with just the brood, one brood box or two, depending on where your location dictates, then add the Flow Super on top of the brood area and separated by a QX.
The bees will fill out the available space in the brood area then will find the extra space in the Flow Super for storing honey. I found that spraying sugar water on the Flow frames was taken by the bees but then they lost interest in the Flow frames, I brushed on melted wax over the flow frames and in no time the bees were sealing up the frames and storing honey in them.
Probably not a good season for honey. Get them ready for winter and try again next season. Welcome to the world of primary industry
Thanks all… sound reasoning… better luck next year!
Wise decision ! This is my third season without flow-harvest ! First year got setup July so not enough time left in the season. Last year (2017) they got started then a dreath. So was bad in all colonies ! This year it’s hot n dry again so guessing nothing above survivial amount but doubt excess ! At least the girls are pollensting the neighborhood gardens n trees. That’s our plus. Like you said, there’s always next year !
I’m communicating a lot with beekeepers all over the world. In some regions beeks are happy if their colonies survive a year at all, a bonus if without extra feeding. Super bonus if they get honey.
Changing weather patterns make for unreliable foraging, many say ‘the mites’ take the greatest toll. Then we have agricultural influences.
Many of us, like @Gerald_Nickel , keep bees for other reasons apart from honey. And then suddenly you get a good season.
Keep that honey super above the brood box, and when the flow is on, the bees will deposit their goods. No flow out there, they won’t do it. Simple. Can’t force them.
Keep them healthy and strong till then. And watch those mites.
Okay, thanks for confirming
Like the others have said, sounds like it is a bad year for honey production. It would be interesting for you to talk to other local beekeepers and see how they have gone as well.
Although, beehives aren’t always the same even in the same yard.
Another thing I am observing with terminology:
I think when you are saying “they filled their own super out nicely and then filled out the flow hive”
You may mean - they filled out their brood box nicely and then filled out the Flow Super.
The “Super” is the term normally used for the box above the brood boxes where excess honey is stored. AKA Flow Super with the Flow Frames inside.
The term “brood box” is the bottom 1 or more boxes where the queen and babies live.
Just thought I would clarify, as it can help with trouble shooting, and talking to other beeks
Thanks for the reply. Here in the Northeast of the US the convention is to add a super above the brood box for their own wintering stores and then add a super above that if one hopes to harvest any after they’ve set aside some full frames for themselves. So in saying that they filled their own super nicely I was referring to the second box. The flow hive would go above that super once it was on its way to being filled. This year there was zero interest in the flow frames in any of the three hives. Very disappointing.
I think I have already said that to get the bees interested in using my Flow Super frames I had to melt some bees wax and brush on wax onto the cells, then I had no trouble with the bees using them to store honey.
As Faroe has explained, any number of boxes below the QX is termed a brood box, above the QX is a super and the 1st super is sitting on the QX and so on. A super becomes a Flow Super if it has the flow frames in it.
A great forum with lots of help if we all use the same terminology so there is no confusion.
Isn’t this the issue? Unless there is enough nectar flow they won’t store above this…happened to me in 2018…seems really challenging to give ample room to suppress swarming while not giving so much they can’t maximize our honey harvest… mine stored way more in the second brood chamber than they needed through the winter… some local beekeepers told me last night that if the cluster is in the bottom box they won’t go up to that second box to even eat… they will literally starve to death in the bottom box with a super of Honey above them. So much to learn
@jasongrow It is wrong to think that if you put an empty super with frames above the brood box the bees will not put honey into it.
I hope you miss understood what you were told. The bees will make comb anywhere there is space available and they will store honey there and will eat it. Think about it, if you keep adding a super the bees will use it if the comb below it is full of stores. But of course to fill the frames with honey there must be a flow of nectar happening.
That is very rare, but it can be true in very cold climates. Your profile doesn’t say where you are located (please update it to help us to help you), but I am guessing that you are in the northern US. I would still use 2 brood boxes if that is so. They are much less likely to starve if you do. The alternative is to use one deep ten frame box (like commercial beekeepers), and then feed all winter. Hard work, and also quite risky as you have to open the hive to feed candy or solid sugar several times over winter.
The commonest causes of overwinter losses in the US are Varroa, condensation and starvation, in that order. Dying with food in the upper brood box is much more likely to be secondary to Varroa or condensation, than to be failure of the cluster to move up to get it. Treat conscientiously for Varroa, insulate and prevent condensation, and your bees will likely be fine.
I am in southern US. Good to know. I suspected his comment was not a norm because in our climate a deep and medium brood box is norm.
Dawn, was it you or Dee that recomended Snelgrove method for swarm prevention? I posted a new thread, Snelgrove and Me…in central Alabama, US we are fast headed into Spring. Would like input from someone experienced in using that method…I applied it last year and only had 1 swarm …year before I had 5 from 2 hives. Most beekeepers in my club advise for splits/expansion …or just let them do whats natural.