Hey all! I have (2) flow hives and I rehomed (5) frame nucs into each on 5/13/22 here in North-Middle TN. I have done (2) brood box inspections so far. I am trying to be prepared and learn as much as I can about the upcoming winter so I have several questions I hope someone can help me with. I have signed up for a full 2-day seminar coming up later this month, but I need some answers about expanding before then.
Current Setup: (1) Deep flow brood box, inner cover, roof, (5) plastic frames from nuc, (5) foundationless frames nearly filled with comb.
My goal: Honey isn’t my reason. I’ll take some and the Flow hive was appealing due to the ease of extraction, but mainly, I have 200+ acres and I want to help the bee population. I want the bees happy and healthy and I don’t want to kill them by neglect. They can keep most of their honey, though I now realize that the flow super can’t be used overwintering as you have to remove the queen excluder to their food supply which means the queen may have access to the flow super for brood (correct me if I’m wrong). That being said, this hobby has gotten more expensive than I thought and I don’t want to expand and have the additional time requirement unless my wife and I really get more into this hobby. (2) hives are nice and is great to learn and provide my kids and friends with bee interaction and a little honey.
The bees are faster than I thought and they nearly have all the brood box frames filled. I am getting some cross comb (correct terminology?) between the frames; near the middle of the frame, not around the perimeter. It makes it difficult to remove the frames and I damaged some comb yesterday trying to remove the frame not knowing it was connected. Can I just damage the comb where they are connecting across frames and the bees will fix it? Maybe I don’t have to do anything and they will naturally fix it once the frames are completely filled with comb (like doing a little remodeling in their home) once they realize their space is reduced?
The hive is nearing capacity and I’ll have to add something soon for them to expand. I’m not ready for the flow super yet. My local beekeeper that I got the nucs from (and who I’m trying not to bug too much) said that he will overwinter with single and double brood boxes. So overwintering with single brood boxes is possible here. He said he supplements with fondant. I’d like to control the size of my hive, so I don’t really want to do double brood boxes but I also want to minimize artificial feeding. Can I put a regular, medium super with queen excluder on so that they can build winter food without brood, then (probably not this year) remove the medium super, store it in my garage, and put the flow super on to get harvestable honey? Then when winter approaches, remove the flow super, replace the medium regular super with their honey without queen excluder so that they have honey stores from brood and medium super? Perhaps this could be enough to overwinter without much supplemental syrup/fondant? Thoughts on storing the filled medium super in my garage until ready winter? Perhaps instead, just put the medium super above the flow super with the inner cover between them so the bees don’t have access to the medium?
I’m a new hobbyist and I don’t know that I will want more hives. What can I do to make sure I stay at 2 hives? I know this is a very general question, but I’d like suggestions. Obviously they will make queens eventually and I’ll need a new queen eventually. I just don’t want them swarming and I don’t want to have them keep expanding unless I decide I can give this more time and money. I have additional regular deep and medium boxes if I do have to expand.