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My bees are neglecting my Flow honey frames

Me again. I just did a complete hive inspection. Although the third upper box containing my Flow frames has been busy with bees since June 11, they have done nothing to them. Nada. Just sealing up things with propylis. It’s been over two months.

I even coated them with melted wax, which did draw their attention. I live in the Midwest, US, and it’s been really dry for the past six weeks or so.

What should I do? The two lower boxes- the middle one weights probably fifty pounds and is full of honey (or sugar water indeed them in the Spring), lots of capped brood, and larvae. The bottom box is equally filled with capped brood and larvae, maybe not much honey.

Should I wait it out a few more months, accepting that it will start getting cooler then? Or pull the box and start feeding them again? It appears to be a very health population. I wasn’t in it for the honey unless they started really filling it. I just want them to survive till Spring! Even thought about adding a bunch of regular frames and let them start building on those (waxed plastic foundation).

Not sure what my next move is…

Chris


You can leave the super on if you get a fall flow like we do up in Ohio and decide if you need to feed before the daily average temperatures drop below about 50°F.

Or take it off now and get it stored for the spring. If they are just putting propolis in then you should take it off so the works don’t get gummed up.

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Hi Chris,

Did you see if the bees had started working on the Flow Frames yet by noticing little wax deposits between the cells at the bottom of the middle frames?

Generally, the bees will only start working on the Flow Frames when they need to i.e. every inch in the below boxes is at capacity, there is adequate forage available (you mentioned you’ve had a dry period which could be effecting this) and thus the population is able to expand into the third box (Flow Super) to meet this demand.

If otherwise, you may just be harbouring unwanted empty space in the hive by keeping the Flow Super on and if so, it would be best to remove it until conditions make it suitable to return.

In terms of understanding if you should start feeding your bees and how much honey stores you need, local and experienced advice is best for this.

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Hey CG, right there is some key insight - as Alok and Bianca noted, the bees probably had wind of the waning nectar flow just as or soon after you put the Flow super on. You probably saw lots of flowers, but the dry conditions meant little to no nectar in them. Like setting a pretty table and never putting any food out. Rude, right?! So I think the bees were intrigued by the nice waxy scent, but ultimately knew they couldn’t begin to fill that vast expanse anytime soon.

That capped brood pattern looks beautiful though, so your queen was in good form. You mentioned not much open brood or eggs though, so most likely they have reduced brood production in anticipation of cooler weather and/or because of the dearth. This is appropriate, and any fall nectar available will be placed into cells vacated by emerging bees. It’s therefore very unlikely if not impossible for them to build new comb even if you feed, because they know the seasonal environment won’t support it. But, they might’ve already gotten a decent start on waxing up the seams in the Flow super, so it’ll be primed for spring :+1:

So, your next move should be to take action against varroa mites, because their population will dramatically increase as the bees’ numbers decrease, which is why we see healthy but inadequately treated/managed colonies crash & die in fall or other brood break times.

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Incredibly well said, Eva!

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Thanks everyone for the useful tips. Today, I pulled the flow frames. I didn’t see any beeswax, but they did a good job of sealing all the cracks with propolis. I set them aside in the shed for Spring. And, I started feeding them 2:1 sugar water. They seem very healthy and I only saw one SHB in one of my traps. Zero varroa that I could detect. It is still bone dry here and I don’t expect that to change… CG

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Sorry to hear it, CG. That could create problems with a future harvest, so consider using the seasonal downtime to clean them if the propolis is substantial.

Good :hugs:

What was your method of detection :face_with_monocle:? Alcohol wash, sugar roll, checking your slider? Naked eye is not reliable, and if you saw any varroa ON bees, the infestation would be already at a critical level. Let us know if you need any tips!

Eva, the propilis is not substantial. They look practically new! And wouldn’t that give them a leg up in Spring if I leave them that way? Also, yes, visual on the Varroa. I inspect the bottom tray for evidence with a loupe. Not accurate I know, but I just treated for them about six weeks ago. We’ve never seen any evidence of them. Yet…

Here are a few pics of the flow frames

THX CG

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Looks ok to me! Not sure about the leg up, wax is what you want for sealing gaps in the Flow frame cells…propolis has been known to cause difficulty with opening them when there’s a lot in there. If your colony & the nectar flow are strong next spring, the bees will have a great shot at waxing them and filling them.

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