I am a new beekeeper in Houston Texas though my Dad used to keep bees when I was young. Although we do not have strong winters down here, almost all of the beekeepers I have met follow the same setup. The bottom deep is for brood, then another deep on top of that for hone stores and then as many supers as needed above that for additional honey stores. At extraction time, they remove all the honey from the supers but never touch the deep full of honey. They explained that the honey in that deep is for the bees to feed on over the winter. Most all of the photos and descriptions I have seen of the flow hives show only the one deep with the flow deep on top of that brood deep. If you only have the flow deep for honey storage how do you make sure you are leaving enough honey for the bees to eat over the winter. It would seem that if you extracted some honey and then had an early cold snap and no more flowers for the bees you might end up having to feed them over the winter. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to let them always have their own deep full of honey to eat over the winter? When am I missing here.
“What am I missing here?”
A super of honey is worth more than the sugar syrup that can be used to feed the bees thru the winter.
You are correct about it being prudent to leave the bees enough of their honey for the winter, but some beeks think it is more prudent (for their pocket books) to take most or all of it and then feed the bees sugar to get them thru the winter.
Since I am not a commercial operation and do not plan on selling the honey, and will get more than enough from two hives for my family and friends, it is not the cost that is the issue. The issue is the time constraints needed for feeding. I am retired and we will be taking trips that will be 2 to 3 weeks in length and it would be difficult to find someone to come over and change the feeder every few days. I realize that I could take out a couple of the flow hive frames to make space for a internal feeder but that would mean modifying the box etc. It just seems to me that if you are not making money off the honey and get enough from the supers then why not have a deep full of honey just for the winter. The main negative I saw was the need to always move the flow hive deep off to inspect the honey and brood boxes but that should not be very often according to one of the beekeepers I have met here. He has 2 hives and this year has extracted over 120 lbs of honey just from the supers.
Your bees will be fine left alone for a few weeks. In the winter they need very little supervision so long as they have plenty of stores, and in the summer they need extra space when they fill their boxes during heavy flow. You can put on extra supers before you go out of town in anticipation of seasonal flows.
And I agree with you, leave them their honey for the winter ; -)
I recommend you do what is typical for your area for brood and stores and just replace the supers you would harvest with the flow frame box.
we live in iowa usa, where the temp drops to frigid temps like at times 30 + to 30- we left the hives in the sunny spot and made certain there was plenty of honey for them to feed on. they survived quite well. Anixios to get beezy again. if i order a hive in november when could i expect delivery to Iowa USA.
My family has much to learn, here in the San Antonio area. We want to keep bees. We just received our flow hive. Any and all tips are appreciated.
Is a 2nd brood box necessary? Or would leaving some of the frames un-harvested work the same?
Hi there, I would strongly recommend a second deep brood box below the queen excluder (and Flow Super extractor box) in Texas. Most of your fellow beekeepers in that area use “double deep” brood boxes. You can order matching deep boxes from www.beethinking.com - make sure you choose the 8-frame option and order some frames too.
You might not need them until May or June 2016 (assuming you get started in March or April). You certainly shouldn’t put the second box on until the first one is bursting with bees - lots of space is very tough for a new colony to defend from pests. You could leave unharvested honey above, but if you are seeking local advice for problems, they will understand much better if you are working with a double brood box system.