Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

Lot of activity after harvest

First year. Installed bee package in April. We harvested 5 of 7 frames a couple of days ago. Today, they are flying all over the front of the hive and nearby area where we don’t usually see them at all or at least not in noticeable numbers. One got in the house. Basically, not their regular level of activity.

Should I be concerned something is wrong? Are they just doing this because so much of the hive was disturbed by taking the honey? There was leaking through the brood box, so many of them came out to get the honey at that time. Is this normal? Or did we disturb things too much?

Here is a video of the leaking. But the containers collected a lot more later on even though the streams were the same and the bees where super congregated in the containers on the ground. (It won’t let me embed more than one video as a new user so this one is a link).
Video of leaking from bottom board

2 Likes

How much honey leaked into the brood box?

What came out from the bottom board was maybe 2-3 cups.

You’ve probably flooded or partially flooded their brood nest.

Hello and welcome to the Flow forum. Sorry things are worrying for you!

I agree with @Stevo, your hive probably flooded from the harvest. It shouldn’t happen that way, but it isn’t entirely your fault. Flow frames can be prone to flooding the hive for many reasons. Some of this is not covered in Flow’s official instructions, but here is what you can do to minimize the risk of flooding:

  1. Before you ever put the frames on the hive, make sure that the wires are tight. If they aren’t, the frame can flex and leak before or during a harvest
  2. Inspect the Flow frames before harvesting to make sure they are fully capped. That means lifting them out so that you can see the whole frame face. Inspecting though the windows is not enough. Bees love to leave an arc of uncapped cells in the center frames, and these will leak if you you harvest them
  3. When you open a frame, consider using 2 Flow keys (you can buy an extra for $15). If you use them together, the frame flexes much less, reducing the risk of breaking the cappings and causing a flood
  4. Open the frame in 20-25% increments (you can mark the key with a Sharpie to help know how far 20% is), waiting for at least 5-10 minutes before you go on to the next 20%. You must avoid developing an airlock in the Flow tube, or pressure will force honey out of the frame into the hive
  5. On any harvest day, only open one or two frames at a time. That way, if you get a spill, the hive will not get overwhelmed

You have a couple of other things to think about. A big leak like that can stimulate robbing. You might want to reduce the entrance down to about 2 inches to help them fend off robber bees. You only have one brood box. Much of the the USA uses 2 brood boxes so that the bees have enough food for winter. You will need to be ready to feed over winter if other beekeepers in your area do so. We could help more if you gave a city in the location of your profile - the USA is a huge country… :blush:

Hopefully your bees will recover. Sometimes if the leak has been really huge, they may abscond. In that case, you will need to pack up the hive for winter so that wax moths don’t make a meal of it while there are no bees in it.

Finally, the best way to get a video here is to upload it to YouTube, then post the share link here. It will then look something like this:

5 Likes

Thank you. That is really helpful. We did follow some of these tips but didn’t know about all of these. Mainly made sure the hive was tipped toward the back and opened one frame at a time about 20-25% at a time. But now I will know of the other steps.

I hope the bees we’re seeing “around” are not robber bees. That concerns me. I’m also worried that they will high tail it out of there :fearful:.

I plan to treat for mites and install a medium super soon. My thought was that they would still have enough time to store more honey for the winter (Lehi, Utah USA), as they were pretty quick to start storing honey when we first installed the honey super in mid June. Then I will need to figure out what to do with the flow frames as far as storing those away. There is still honey left in about half each of the outer two frames right now.

(I figured out how to upload and link to a couple videos on my Flickr account)

1 Like

It sounds like you had a fairly large honey leaking episode when you did the extraction and I agree with what Dawn has said.
Don’t rely on what you see thru the windows to assess the hive for extraction, threat the windows as nothing more than of novelty value. The only way to know if a frame is ready to be extracted is to remove it and look at both side of each frame.
The extra activity is because of the flooding issue and not that you have extracted the honey. With a successful extraction with no honey spill the bees don’t have a negative reaction but with a honey leak the worse it is the more the bees will react. Sorry that your first extraction went wrong but hope you will pick up on the advice and your next one will go better. Don’t feel bad about it, most of us have walked that path for one reason or another.
Cheers

3 Likes

If you can post a video of the front entrance of the hive, about 15 to 20 seconds long, we can tell you whether we see robbing behavior.

I very much doubt that your bees will find much nectar after the beginning of July in your climate. You are officially “high desert”, as you know, and even with human irrigation, there won’t be enough water in the soil to guarantee good nectar after mid-summer. We come to Park City every year, so I am pretty familiar with your climate! :wink: Also, in winter, your bees will use a lot more honey than more benign climates, keeping the hive warm. You may want to look into insulating the hive, and consider some form of moisture quilt. Even so, they are likely to need some kind of fondant/candy or white granulated sugar to supplement their stores.

I wrap them in cling wrap, freeze them for 24-48 hours then store them in my garage in the super. I completely wrap the super box in burlap to keep wax moths and pests out. The freezing kills any wax moth or small hive beetle eggs/larvae. The burlap allows some air flow to prevent mold growth. If there is honey in them, you may want to keep them in the freezer over winter, otherwise the honey may crystallize. You could also drain them off the hive (inside the house or garage), and leave the frames open for as long as it takes to empty them. I have done that with partially capped frames. The honey may not be ripe if the frames are not capped, but it is fine if stored frozen and eaten within a couple of weeks.

Do ask more questions if anything isn’t clear. :wink:

3 Likes

Thank you. I will definitely heed your advise for the overwintering and storing of frames. It’s so nice to get some experienced and knowledgeable feedback.

The first image of the hive that appears static on the thread is actually a video if you click on it a couple of times. Not sure it’s clear enough to tell what’s going on. I didn’t want to get too close without a suit. (Trying to maintain my 46-year run of no stings :laughing:)

2 Likes

I clicked on it, thank you. I think you will need a suit on - not close enough to be sure. There are a couple of things I would be looking for:

  1. Bees wrestling with each other on the landing board, trying to sting each other
  2. Bees flying straight into the hive with their butts down, dangling their hind legs
  3. Bees being dragged out of the hive and dumped onto the landing board, or even off the edge of it
  4. Lots of dead bees on the ground in front of the hive

Numbers 3 and 4 are helpful in a non-flooding situation, because they mean that bees are being killed in the hive. However in your situation, you may have dead bees from the flooding. However, numbers 1 and 2 only happen with robbing.

So I am afraid I am asking you to suit up and get closer video, unless you can see it yourself and you are happy to diagnose it based on what I have described.

If you want to make a hive quilt box yourself, there is a nice description here:

If you want to insulate the hive, lots of people use the high density foam insulation that you use in roofing. The 2 inch thick type should be good for your winter:

Having seen your beautifully-painted hive, I am sure that you could do something to make it a lot prettier than the insulation looks from the store! (Dare I suggest a snowy mountain scene, given your location, to complement the spring and summer green mountain scene?) :blush:

3 Likes

Lots of excellent advice and info here Dawn. Thanks :+1:

2 Likes

Dawn covered everything you can do to minimize a honey leak. I will just re-iterate the importance of not harvestign all the frames in one day. I only ever harvest 1 or 2 frames a day- I do it in increments and I pick frames that are not adjacent to each other. that way if honey does leak the bees can move out of the way- and they can lick it up even as it leaks without being overwhelmed.

to achieve this I use a bucket with hoses and holes in the lid. this means I can partially crack frames- set a timer and go off and do whatever I like around the house. I leave a good 25 minutes between increments. I have been using this method for a few years now and have not seen major disturbance or any honey flooding out of the bottom of the hive.

when we started- our first harvest we harvested all six frames in one go- we saw honey pour out of the front entrance and the bees bearded on the front of the hive covered in honey. The hive did recover and was back to normal after a few days- but still- it’s much better to avoid leaks if possible.

3 Likes

I didn’t get a chance to suit up and go get a better video today.
I didn’t really detect that kind of activity (1 & 2) on the day we noticed the high activity. There are plenty of dead bees on the ground near the hive but it seems they’ve been accumulating over time.

When I went out to look at them today, the activity was less, I don’t know, “unhinged” looking. Less all over the place? I’d like to think, they were just doing a lot of damage control. A couple more have found their way into the house which has never happened before and we also still see them on flowers in our yard. So, I’m hoping this means they are getting things under control and calming down.

I will definitely look into the insulation ideas. Thanks! I really appreciate the links.

I was thinking when we install the medium super, the queen excluder would go over the brood box and the the medium super so they can just store honey there for themselves for the winter (however much that is possible at this point. I understand, I will probably have to supplement). Is that an OK idea or should I just put the medium box on top of the brood box with no queen excluder?
(I don’t really want the hive to get super tall, I’d rather attempt to split the hive next year if it grows a lot into another hive).

1 Like

If you take the Flow super box off completely this year (and store it in your garage etc), and put a medium box on, it won’t be super tall. You don’t need a queen excluder if you have a hive box in place which will never be used for harvesting. The queen excluder is only used to keep the queen out of harvest areas
:blush:

I think that’s a really good idea. I run most of my flow hives just like that. I think a flow hive with just one brood and one super can be a bit small for a really big colony- and I think it is best to remove the flow super for winter. A half depth box gives the bees more room and makes a good winter store just for them.

2 Likes

So, I think I’m just going to put the queen excluder between the brood box and medium super. I’m thinking, I only want the medium super there for their winter stores and I can take it off in the spring and put the Flow Super back on. So if I didn’t use the queen excluder, they might put brood in the medium and then I wouldn’t be able to take it off next spring.

You shouldn’t have a queen excluder on going into cooler weather. If the bees cluster above it, the queen will be left behind to freeze on her own… :cry:

If she does lay in it, you could always put it above the queen excluder in Spring, let the brood emerge and then use it for honey - just not comb honey :wink:

1 Like

:sob: :sob: :sob: Well, looks like our first year of beekeeping did not go as well as we thought it was going.
Went to do the hive inspection today and bees are gone. There’s some dead at the bottom of the hive with a lot of pollen and a few stragglers. But it’s all pretty much cleared out. I thought the decreased activity outside the hive was a good sign that things had settled down inside but apparently not. We never saw them bearding in the front so it doesn’t seem like it was a full-on swarm that left.

As a newbie, I’m not sure what happened. I didn’t see any supersedure cells at all. I don’t see any obvious signs of disease although there are some bee dismembered bodies at the bottom. I don’t think it is all to do with the honey flooding from the harvest but that might have been the last straw if the hive was already weak due to -I don’t know. Feeling really stupid and irresponsible right now for not checking on them sooner and assuming everything was going well just because they got established at the beginning so well making comb, storing, making brood, and later storing honey in the flow super right away. Wondering if it could have been insecticides. We don’t spray for anything nor have we fertilized the lawn this whole year but I know some neighbors do. (I think that reason would just make me feel better, that’s all).

I guess, I should call a county inspector to see if they can help figure out what happened?

1 Like

I don’t think you need a county inspector. I think they probably absconded after the flooding. They decided that they didn’t live in a safe place. It happens. You are not the first, and you won’t be the last. If you can learn something from it, and try again next year, that is positive. Here is a nice little article to help you understand:

1 Like

Could this all be due to the ‘Flow’ frames in your hive being counterfeits?