Newbie, Have some questions

Hey Everyone,

So, I’ve been wanting to get into beekeeping for a little while now. I spent a long time doing research on the best method for a complete beginner for their first hive. I really like the idea of the Flow product because of how much easier on the bees (and keeper) the system is. I live in New England, and plan to get my nuc April 10th. My question is two fold:

  1. For a 5 frame nuc, will one brood box and one super (the Flow Hive Classic) be enough, or should I look at adding more supers and brood boxes? What would the preferred setup for a brand new hobbyist?

  2. I have been reading a looootttttt (just to over emphasize the growing amount of conflicting info) of different ideas around pest control and treatments. The treamentless hive proponents feel that the bees will naturally select, and evolve a better tolerance against mites without treatment. Where the treatment proponents lay out all the complications that come from a mite infestation. Was just curious if anyone in the New England area has any experience with either, and what the recommend?

Thanks everyone in advanced for your contributions.


Hello Vincent,

Welcome to the Forum!

We have members in New England, so you will get some good answers here, but you may also want to join a local beekeeping club. Don’t tell them you are getting a Flow hive - there is hostility to it from the traditionalists. Just say you want to keep an 8-frame Langstroth hive, which is what the Flow hive really is.

The thing that most new beekeepers don’t realize is that the Flow hive doesn’t change the way you look after bees in your particular climate/location. It just makes the honey harvesting a lot easier. So for everything below the Flow super, you should do things exactly the same way that your local beekeepers do. I would imagine that in your area, you will need at least 2 brood boxes, and possibly even 3, as the 8-frame boxes have 25% less space than the standard 10-frame boxes which most people break their backs lifting… :blush: So if the locals keep 2 boxes of 10 frames for brood, that is 20 frames, you may want 3 boxes, so that your bees have 24 frames for stores to survive the winter. I know that @Anon is south of you in NJ, and he uses 3 boxes of 8-frames for brood and wintering.

That is almost a defining characteristic of beekeeping. I am not in New England (I am on the left coast, south end), however, varroa is present across the whole US. There are organic methods for treating for varroa if you need to do it (oxalic acid and formic acid are two naturally-occurring choices), but I prefer to use VSH bees which have some innate resistance. However, they are not perfect, so I monitor mite counts and bee deformities too. If I see evidence of DWV or high mite counts, I will treat even though my bees are VSH. I don’t have enough hives to recover from a 50% or higher loss, which is what you will probably see if you refuse to treat at all.

You will get lots more opinions. Great questions. Welcome once again, and hope you join us in this journey with bees. :blush:

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I don’t know a lot about varoa but i’m assuming you will only start with one or two hives. This won’t give you a chance to breed hygenic bees or recover from losing colonies.

So you can start with buying a hygenic strain locally and as dee said, monitor and treat if necessary.

As i understand it, if the bees don’t have the varoa under control at the end of the season the hive has little chance of getting through whatever the genetics.

Thank you so much for your answers!

Just a follow up question. If I end up with 3-8 frame boxes, will one six frame super be enough?

With the brood boxes, do you just introduce boxes slowly as the colony starts to grow?

The beauty of the Flow super is that you can drain individual frames as they fill up. So one Flow super should be plenty. I like to have an 8-frame medium as spare box. If I can’t drain the Flow frames for any reason, I can just put that on top and give the bees more space to fill.

The rule I like to use is to add a box when the following are all true about the existing box:

  1. Every frame has fully drawn comb
  2. Around 80% of the comb is filled with brood, honey or pollen
  3. Every frame is well-covered with bees (so that it is hard to see the comb surface unless you shake the bees off)

If you use those rules, you are ensuring that there are enough bees in the hive to defend and manage the new space you are giving them. Plus you can be fairly sure that they will use the new space right away.

Greetings Vinicent,

If you are starting beekeeping with a Flow-hive this Spring 2017 … Heed what Dawn n few others are replying ! Hope you have that 5 frame Nucs ordered. If timing is similar to out here in the Pacific NW it should arrive mid April. Your basic flow-hive comes with only the lower 8 frame brood box n a Special Flow frame honey super. I’d check with local beekeeper but guessing like most of us … You’ll need at least one more 8 frame deep box (Super). No panic … Just get that extra super ordered n put together with frames. Frames come three basic ways: foundationless ( no wax ), wax foundation, or plastic foundation wax coated. All this can be seen on You-Tube videos. Here in the northern hemisphere our bees have a loooooong no flower (no pollen/nectar period) so need the added winter over resources. I’m just entering my second full season of beekeeping out here on the West Coast. And even with my bees starting with nearly two full boxes of honey I’m now feeding them already winter patties. Each years is different … You’ll find that to be very true. There are basic general rules but these are only guides to keep you out of deep troubled water (over your head ). actually beekeeping is often like going into a forest n walking. Sometimes you step on a slippery log n fall off. Been there in beekeeping. You just get right back up, bush yourself off n keep on trucking/moving ahead.

Now as for those ideas of letting your bees fight off the mites … I’d tell you to stuff that idea for now in your back pocket for a far future idea. Beekeeping is a neat n cool hobby. It helps the environment, gives you enjoyment n maybe a bit of honey sooner or later. Glad I got back into beekeeping after 55 years away. This beekeeping thing has picked up a few bad bugs since my 1950’s n 60’s Jr n Sr High agriculture project. It’s a new learning curve. These varroa mites are real n can be very destructive to your bees n mine. I lost two of my five hives to these nasty critters. Like I said about the slippery logs. I’ve recorded in logbooks n notes what I did n what I might have done wrong. I did treatments but my timing was wrong for the two I lost. I’m guessing if my treatment timing had been earlier I would be the proud own of maybe 5 strong hives instead of 3 hive. I’m not discouraged one bit. I’ve LEARNED… The pluses really outweigh the negatives.

Now keep studying, asking question ( we all have ideas, opinions, facts n you will too), get prepared … Find a local bee club, get s mentor ( worth their weight in liquid gold ) n get going … Your entering the fastenating world of beekeeping. Sorry if I scared you any. We’re all here to help you succeed !

couple pix’s of my set up bro.

Good luck n cowboy up !


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Gerald what are the solar panels for? I assume it is a heater, but I couldnt find where you explained it!