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Langstroth with a new Flow super

Hi I’m a new beekeeper in the Hawkesbury, as at 9/12/20. (A package of bees left over from someone else’s order when we were just in ‘checking out’ equipment at a local beekeeping supply store. Back then we still had questions about wood, plastic and foam, as well as Flow. The package was in full sun and the woman had said she had had them a while, and would 'have to get rid of them" if she didn’t “sell them today”. Other packages were nearby with plenty of dead bees evident in the bottoms of the packages. I’m a sucker for a rescue.)
We have standard & ideal Langstroph 10 frame for brood boxes. Had to pop the Ideal on to give us time to do the research as to whether to proceed with Langstroph or Flow for our super. The ‘Girls’ had run out of room. We painted & decorated our 7 frame Flow super and popped it on with over the queen excluder on top of the ideal on 14/1/20, with the Langstroph bee escape top board and and vented cover. Hubby made a gabelled over roof with air flow under the eaves and a 10cm overhang.
The “Girls” had been Bearding something fierce all over the entire face of the two brood boxes but were quiet in themselves. The Ideal that we put on on 14/12/19 was full of capped honey and there was enough burr comb on top and in the vented lid to yield 3kg of honey.
Well firstly the ‘girls’ took straight to the flow frames and are busy with their heads in and butts out. Also there is only a maximum of about 1/8 or less of the bearding we were having before. ‘So far so good’.
We had had record temperatures of 48 degrees C on 4/1/20 when it was still 35 degrees C at 11pm at night. Prior to and after that they were bearding considerably even on cool days but much more so after that super hot day… My theory: Don’t laugh… Hot honey, and no room.
BIG QUESTIONS:
1.) Is it normal for the bees to have access to the Flow harvesting end of the super? Some of ours seem to like to hanging out there.
2.) Is it normal for their little antena to be poking out and feeling around in the air through the vent holes of the Langstroph vented cover? we are worried that they will go to town with burr comb in the vented lid as before.
Hubby is planning to change the vented top board for a non vented today or tomorrow.
Thoughts advice???

Hi Val, I can comment about the bottom sentence.

When you say “vented top board”, I assume you mean the crown board. I would remove the crown board & replace it with a hive mat. A hive mat can be a piece of vinyl flooring cut so it sits on top of the frames, however leaving a space all around it so that bees can access the roof cavity. I like my bees to be able to access the roof cavity like a relief valve. It tells me how the population numbers are going. With a hive mat the bees will fill the frames before moving into the lid. With a hole in the middle of a crown board, the bees can move up into the lid & start building up there before they finish filling the honey frames. Mainly because the hole is there & they can, in conjunction with filling the middle frames first.

I lift my roofs once a fortnight to see what honey is available to take. In doing so, I’m also monitoring the population strength.

An added advantage of ditching the crown board & opting for a hive mat is the fact that bees will propolize the roof to the honey super, which holds it firm during strong winds. Whereas before, the bees would propolize the crown board to the honey super, leaving the roof vulnerable to strong winds, unless it’s tied down.

Are the bees present underneath the rear cover when this is removed?

You may need to look at whether the Flow Frames have had the adjustment screw fully extended so they sit firmly against the fixed rear panel, as well as spacing these to ensure that any gaps are minimised between each Flow Frame. Check also that there are spacers on the inside of the Flow Super side panels that the Flow Frames are resting against.

or just exploring around the outside of the hive?

Perhaps their flight path has a curve to it and they are landing here on the way to the entrance, or they are just curious and checking out the entire hive. I have heard and seen rare instances of bees exiting a hive to propolis up gaps present on the outside also. Keep an eye on things, for these types of questions pictures are very helpful :slight_smile: Here is the upload button.

Hi Kieran.

Yes the bees are under the under the rear cover and some fly out when we’ve checked.

Hubby states he will examines it tomorrow. He is presently on his computer looking up the Flow manual. We’ll investigate tomorrow morning .

Thank you for the prompt response, and guiding us with where to start troubleshooting…

With the question of bees in the top cover, Hubby changed the vented inner cover board for a a solid one today. The bees seemed to be able to get up in the attic, for want of a better description but unable to get back out. Found about 15 dead up there.

Regards Val

Hi JeffH,

Today Hubby changed the vented crown cover for a solid one, as some of the bees, (about 15 of which were dead,) that were in the attic so to speak, seemed unable to find their way back down into the hive.

By vented cover, I meant the type with the bee escape in the four corners. We put that in to promote ventilation but Hubby attached fly screen over the corners to prevent hive beetles from going up and hiding there. Our mistake, as evidently the bees found
a way to push through and some were unable to return. Given the logic of your advice I think we’ll remove the added fly screen and allow the bees free rein and trust them to take care of small hive beetle.

We’ve never seen any SHB anywhere in the hive, only in the oil trap under the baseboard, and a couple of times we’ve actually seen them fly in with surprising accuracy.

Thanks for your logical advice & your prompt response. @Kieran has addressed the potential Flow issue, and we’re going back to the instruction manual armed what to look for, so attend to that tomorrow.

Regards Val

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This description sounds awfully like a clearing board:
image

If this is the case, it’s been applied incorrectly. The above device only allow bees out in one direction and discourages them back in, which could explain your problem. Clearing boards aren’t typically required for flowhives.

Check out this video, at about 1:50 min mark, Cedar makes the necessary adjustments to ensure the extraction side of the flow frames sit flush with each other and remove any gaps that may enable the bees to escape:

Welcome to the forum @Val

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Thanks fffffred.
A clearing board is precisely what we took off late yesterday evening, Steve thought he had effectively blocked the bee escape hole with fly screen, small enough to prevent SHB getting up. With all the heat the idea was for ventilation. Steve has adjusted the flow frames so there were no bees at the end this afternoon. However he was not aware of the screws at the opposite end so we’ll revisit that.
Thank you for your guidance. Val

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Welcome Val :cherry_blossom: a nice story of hitting the ground running in beekeeping! Good luck as you continue and please keep us posted :hugs:

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Gorgeous!! What an artist you are. Check out our thread on all the other cool stuff many members do besides beekeeping - and if you’ve got some more pics of other things you like to do, we’d love to see them!

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It is a funny thing. we hadn’t even put the super on and I was already planning our 2nd hive, & even
Steve hasn’t got to painting the roof he made for the hive yet. As for Gerald_Nickel… “I’m with you man.”

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