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New FlowHive, bees coming; need starter comb?


Hi, newbee here. We bought the full kit, am building it out, but the bees are coming tomorrow (we’re in southern Michigan and the weather is nearly perfect right now)! Some quick questions:

  1. The bees are coming as a 3 pound package with a marked queen, not as a NUC, so I’m wondering if I should get some comb starter strips for the frames? And if so, for all of the frames or just a couple of them, or??

Ok, I’ll just start with that question, now back to building the frames out. We have a coach who gave us a pretty good rundown on his approach to starting with a 3 pound package, but any other advice for getting started in a brand new brood box is welcome.


Bee packages will come with a tin of Syrup to feed them.

All you need do is continue to feed them and let the workers eat the Queen out of her cage which will be suspended in the package - you need to suspend the Queen from the frames in your brood box - If they have not eaten her out in 2 days then release her - they will have gotten used to her smell.

In the mean time you do not need starter comb as the bees will build up new comb and you need to feed them to help do this.

If the weather is good the girls will start to bring back pollen so when the queen has room to lay - ie comb built, she has food for the nurse bees to raise the young


Bitfool, your full kit came with wood starter strips. You can run a small bead of glue into the groove at the top of your frames and stick 'em in.

Since comb can be fragile, you could run some wire or fishing line as additional support.
I’ll let Hippy Dave explain:


Thanks Valli… so to your point of view, the little cedar starter strips that come in the frame are just fine, the bees will know what to do? :grinning: Makes a natural sort of sense, but watching the “Louise” video it seems that a lot of folk think the bees want some starter help.


Thanks Bobby, so Hippy Dave’s fishing line just provides the bees’ comb more support? The video just kinda ended without a real explanation of what the webbing was for, or maybe I just missed that somehow.


@bitfool if you look at my Current Video both my hives build up almost 2 full frames of wax since I took 2 frames of brood from them each to do swarm pre-empting about 10 days ago. I just use small wax starter strips or empty frames as I have done in the video



I am new too. Going on others advice and my first package issue, I suggest putting a few drops of lemongrass oil in the hive. Since you don’t have your own old comb to put in, I am not sure what else.

My first package was put into a new flow hive just like yours. Apparently bees do not like new wood unless there is some bee smell in them (lemongrass oil or old comb) my bees left as soon as the queen was out of her cage. The errors I may have done is smoked too much (new packages don’t need smoked, they are not in a fighting mood) and I also opened the hive too much the first week.

From what I understand, some bees just leave no matter what but you can better your odds by not making my mistakes.

I have another package doing great for 2 weeks and will install 2 more today. Good luck.



Yes @bitfool,


Great, thanks everyone. Went to local supply store and got some foundation comb to start them off with. I’ll let you know how it goes.


I’m just using an empty frame and letting them do their thing. We just caught the swarm 2 days ago. They seem to like it. We will look tonight and report back.


Just went to check and add one more frame, oops, and they were in a beard formation hanging from the foundationless frames!! I think this is a good sign. Day 3 all is open for everyone to come and go and they are still there! Yeah.


That is called “festooning” and it is a beautiful thing. You are absolutely right, they take up that formation when they are trying to build comb, which is why natural comb has that lovely inverted arc shape.


Hi Paul, I think your on the right track using foundation comb. I assume you mean full sheets of foundation. If not, I’d suggest 1 or 2 full sheets to start them off. Otherwise you could finish up with a lot of cross combing.


Thanks again everyone. Bees went in happily yesterday a bit before dusk. They’re in there with six frames and the queen cage right now, Each frame has some foundation comb on it, some with vertical side strips, some with both side and top strips, but no full sheets. Seemed like a great package of bees, very active, very few dead bees at all. And a few locals who transported along from the supply store on the outside of the package. The front door looks pretty active this morning, in their dappled shade of our little apple orchard (ha! seven small trees).


It will be interesting to see what happens with those. Usually bees like starter strips at the top. I have never heard of someone using side strips. Well, except for those of us who cut comb honey out and give the ragged remnants back to the bees! :blush:


@Dawn_SD yes my thoughts exactly


Just a quick followup for @Valli and @Dawn_SD , the bees seem to have loved the side strips as much as anything, there’s gobs of bees everywhere now. (We found it easier to add side strips than top strips, but that may have just been our newbee effort with no coach on hand.) We’ve left them mostly alone after the first week, but opened up and looked around to make sure there were babies in there and all. The frames all are full of comb, the ones where the queen started have lots of capped cells (and more bees on them) and those on the other side of the box less so but filling up.

We’re getting more and more bees out on our flowers these days, which was really why we got bees in the first place (to pollinate our veggies, hopefully). I think we’ll head out to the local bee place pretty soon to get another brood box and frames, let them expand a bit more soon. Hoping for rain as much as anything else, too dry here in southern Michigan this summer so far, both for the flowers and our veggies. It felt very nice to see how many more bees there were tonight than when we started.


@bitfool Paul if I could send you our rain you are welcome to it. We need some decent sunshine here.
Glad it is all OK. Bees are amazing little girlies :bee: