Can you move a Flow super from a weaker hive to a stronger one? What if there is some residual honey inside - should you empty these frames before moving to the stronger hive?
Good question. Providing both hives are healthy, I would not hesitate to move the super over. No need to empty it or clean it, just don’t transfer a load of bees with it, or they may fight each other.
If you’re worried about how many bees are inside you could always put a piece of newspaper between.
Great idea! Simple is good!!
Make sure your queen doesn’t happen to be inside your super too - sometimes she can even get past the queen excluder so to be safe, you can locate her directly and put her where she belongs or just shake all the bees into the brood box one frame at a time and not worry about finding her.
Awesome! Thanks everyone!
Off topic, if you need to transfer brood frames across hives - does the same principle apply? Ie shake off the bees first?
That is a very good question, and has a somewhat complicated answer…
Standard wisdom in many books is that the bees will fight. However, in reality, this often is not true. I have done it many times with no apparent fighting, and pile of dead bees in front of the landing board (which is what would happen if there had been a big fight inside the hive). There are some caveats, though (aren’t there always in beekeeping?? )
- If the receiving hive is weak, and the transferred frame has open brood, I haven’t seen fighting
- If you do the transfer in the middle of the day, there is less risk of fighting. I think that this is because the main fighters inside the hive are the guard bees and the foragers. Nurse bees generally don’t fight. So if you do the transfer when a lot of foragers are out of the hive, a big brawl is less likely
- If you use quite a lot of smoke, but otherwise you are very gentle, the risk of fighting reduces. The smoke covers any new pheromone scent for a while, and the gentle movements don’t put the bees in a highly defensive mode
Be sure not to transfer the queen though. She is often found on a frame of brood. If she goes over too, there will be war!
@JeffH has done some additional experiments which show that generally nurse bees do not fight. Hopefully he will chime in when he has time, although this is probably his busiest time of year right now!
Hi Dawn, thanks for mentioning me. I know I should be busy with my bees now, however my truck motor dropped a big end, which is not good. I had a spare motor in my other truck in my yard. I spent a couple of days pulling bits off it, ready for the mechanic to pull it out last Wednesday. He took it back to the workshop. I haven’t heard a word since. I don’t want to nag, but I’ll probably ring them tomorrow, on account that I need to see what’s happening with my bees. I used my car to take hives away from near the old truck. I brought them back yesterday & today.
@liyi , when I transfer frames of brood, I’ll shake the bees off first. If I want to add extra bees, I’ll shake bees (without the queen) off brood frames onto the grass or a sheet. Then after a few minutes when the older bees have returned to their original hive, I’ll put the receiving hive’s entrance adjacent to the cluster of nurse bees, where they’ll march straight in, unchallenged.
Another thing that can be done is to stand the bee covered frame of brood up somewhere for about 10 minutes. During that time the older bees will return to their original hive leaving nurse bees behind. Then it should be safe to donate that frame with bees, minus the queen of course, into the receiving hive.
Good luck with your truck repair, Jeff - no fun waiting.
Thanks both for taking the time to share your practical tips! It’s so good being able to learn from real life experiences.
Good luck with your truck Jeff!
Oh Jeff, so sorry about your truck! With the number of hives that you manage, you really need your truck back ASAP!
I prefer the sheet method, because it is then easy to move the bees near to the recipient hive and make a ramp for the bees by putting a thin plank of wood under the sheet, leading up to the landing board. For some reason, bees love walking up ramps, and it makes it much quicker to get them into the hive. I have transferred swarms into hives using this method. It works very well!