I installed my package of bees into the Flow Hive at the first part of April. They have built comb on all the frames. There is a good amount of brood frames and they are filling one end frame with honey stores. The other end they are still building comb on. I am leaving for a month. Should I leave them as is, or should I put the Flow Super on top before I leave? Also, right now I have taped up the hold in the top to prevent the bees from building comb on the roof. Now that it is warming up here in the US, should I untape and cover with screening? Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Welcome to the Flow forum.
Neither. You should add a second brood box. Because of our long nectar dearths in California, almost all beekeepers use 2 brood boxes. Unless your local bee club disagrees with this, that is what you should do too.
I would leave it covered year round. It doesn’t really help much with ventilation, compared with what bees achieve by fanning to ventilate the hive. If you uncover it, they will probably thank you by building comb in the roof (not good) If you put screen over it, they will probably propolize it closed.
So, would putting on another brood box make the bees reluctant to use the flow super when it is added?
Not if both brood boxes are bursting with bees. I have had hives that are 6 feet tall from the ground (or 6 feet above a stand = 7.5 feet tall). Brood boxes and 5 supers on top. We got nearly 100lb of honey from that hive, and the boxes were smaller than Langstroths.
Not using the Flow super is a function of how many bees are in the hive, and how much nectar is flowing in the forage area. Plus bees don’t really like plastic, so you need to put some burr comb or other wax on the plastic frames to encourage them.
Putting on a second brood box first is the right thing to do for your bees. Harvesting honey should be a secondary consideration, unless you are a ruthless commercial beekeeping operation.
I have top bar hives
I have top-bar hives. I hardly ever take honey from my girls. A friend gifted this flow hive to me so I don’t have any experience with Langstroth hives. I appreciate the info.
You are my kind of beekeeper.
I used to be a pediatrician and I worked at a famous children’s hospital in London - Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children. Not really relevant, except that our motto was “The child first, and always so”.
I feel the same way about my captive bees. What they need comes before what I want. It is a privilege to keep them and I am responsible for their welfare in my equipment. I think you have the same approach.
You came to the right place for support, as we have lots of beekeepers using different hives here (Flow, Langstroth, Horizontal, some top bar, British National, European Dadant, Japanese hives adapted for Apis ceranae etc). We are bonded by our admiration for these creatures and a love for what they do. Thank you for asking questions, and I hope you will ask more. We will do our best to help you in a supportive way. Knowing your background with top bar only is helpful, as otherwise we can make incorrect assumptions about your experience. On the other hand, you can teach anyone here who wants to know about top bar hives, so that is fabulous.
Thanks once again!