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One hive ready to harvest, the other... Nada


I had the same issue last year. I have 2 hives, side by side, both with 2 brood boxes very healthy. I put the flow boxes on about a month ago and one I will harvest today (fully capped and every frame full) but the other hive hasn’t barely touched it. The is a few cells with some wet honey but very few. They put a little in the flow frame then bring it back into the brood boxes. The brood boxes are full without any more room to put honey so I’m not sure why they won’t start using the flows. I had the same issue last year with this hive and ended up getting no honey all year from the flow frames. Should I give up and put a regular honey super on it or try something else? Any advise would be appreciated!




Hi Kenny, you could try swapping some flow frames over after harvest. I’m sure the bees will take to them more readily once they are used.

You will often see one hive outperforming the other. I see that a lot, it’s all to do with the queen’s genetic makeup & her progeny. Not all queen’s progeny are equal, in my view.

Plus you need to make sure that everything is fine in the brood box/s.


Ok, I got about 3 gallons of the clearest, sweetest honey from the one hive. After I harvested, I swapped out 2 harvested frames and put into the hive that isn’t using them. I also re-rubbed some more wax on the empty ones. I will check in a few weeks and let ya’ll know!


@JeffH gave you a great tip there, and it should work. I did that with one of slow hives this year, but they stubbornly refuse to use the Flow super so far. Maybe they feel they have enough space, although the brood boxes look pretty well-used. We also saw some fat bees struggling to get through the queen excluder, so we are trying an upper entrance (cutout on the frame of the inner cover) to see if that will help.


A honey wet Flow frame will give the slow hive the message, they will recover any remaining honey from it and if there is room in the brood box for it that is where it will go but by then the flow frames will be covered in the scent of the honey, wax and the bees own scent.
No two hives will give the same result but it seems that colony was not liking the flow frames but check in a week and you will see bees using it.


As jeff said not all queens are created equal- give that hive some time to see if it builds up- but then after a period consider requeening it if it fails to be productive. Successful commercial beekeepers keep good records of every hives productivity and routinely requeen under-performers.


Regarding unproductive hives that need requeening. When hives swarm I gather that the old queen leaves with the swarm. Has anyone had the experience that an unproductive hive can become more productive after the old queen has left?
I realise the new queen will be a daughter but she might well prove more productive.


I havn’t really had the experience to say but my guess is that yes- oftentimes a new freshly mated queen will outperform the old one. However: until she gets mated an established the hive will be set back. A hive that has swarmed can be set back substantially in loss of a queen, loss of bees and removal of honey stores. Also old queens can perform very well. I have caught large primary swarms with presumably old queens that have grown very rapidly and been productive within weeks. On the other had my most productive hive last year- swarmed this spring- and has not produced any excess honey all season.


That’s normal for UK honey producers which is why we are so anal about swarm control :smile:


Hi Gill, because I think you only have 2 hives, I hesitate to suggest giving the weak colony some brood from the strong colony. It depends on where in the world you are. If you are in spring, you may need to exercise some swarm control to prevent the strong hive from swarming. In that case, you could make a withdrawal of brood frames to deposit into the weaker colony.

To answer your question. Yes the daughter can certainly outperform the mother, especially if the virgin queens are allowed to go through natural selection. Then the victorious queen will select the strongest drones to mate with.

Last year I had one poor performing colony that all of a sudden went ballistic. They must have superseded the old queen. That was all I could put it down to.


Thanks to all who have replied, I am in Esperance, Western Australia which is bee heaven and do have two flow hives. I do have one productive (30 kg a year) flow hive from a swarm I caught but the other hive from a cutout is a lot less vigorous and I have only harvested comb, they use the flow hive as a dormitory!
You are right in saying I would not want to weaken the strong hive so I’m hoping to get another swarm in August. (There are lots of feral bees here).


It is a bit unfair to judge a queen by a hives honey production. To judge a queen look for lots of brood on the the brood frames and the bees being quiet and non aggressive towards being disturbed when you open up the hive for inspection and that is pretty much all you can ask of a queen.
Honey production or lack of it in a hive is more to do with what is in flower and if at this time it is producing nectar. Some trees for example only produce a good nectar flow regularly some years and not others. Local climate also plays a big part as well as man made changes locally.
If there is not a lot of brood then re-queening is a good option’
Hope that helps


I, too, have two hives. One is putting on 15 lbs a week right now and the other is flat. Been that way for a month now. I noticed a large Varroa count last weekend during inspection so I pulled the (empty) super off and treated the brood box with Oxalic acid (3.5%, 5ml per gap). I’m thinking it was the stress from the mites that was the problem. Will know in a couple weeks…


Did you measure the drop after your oxalic. An oxalic trickle will get only the phoretic mites…you need something more effective…well sorry, I would need something more effective if they were my bees


Is it?
It depends what you want from your bees, I suppose. If you want bees to make lots more bees so that you can sell them then maybe but if you want honey then you need an efficient workforce and part of that is amount of brood and part the efficiency of the foraging force. I love bees and I love trying all sorts and I can tell you that my Buckfast far outperform my black bee, my Carnica or the local riff raff


I was hoping oxalic acid would take care of it so I could get the super back on quickly. I did not do an analytical count of the mites but there were quite a few the next day (I would guess 4-5 per square inch) on the baseboard based on the photo I took. I read (here) that in the summer up to three treatments 9 days apart is 44% effective so I was going to try that.


Hmm, I don’t think Randy Oliver is recommending that treatment any more. That is a very old article. Most people now use Oxalic Acid vapor (OAV), and Randy is currently testing oxalic acid on shop towels (those tough blue paper towels that we use in garages etc in the US). I have tried shop towels (not strictly legal), and didn’t find them very effective. If you are going to take the super off to treat, you may as well use OAV at 5 day intervals three times, which does work very well.

If you want to leave the supers on, MAQS are probably one of the best choices, but they are hard on the bees, and there is about a 10% chance of losing the queen too. In my humble opinion, OAV is the way to go.

As far as mite counts go, the sticky board method is hopeless unless you are doing a count 24 hours after OAV. Otherwise, you really need a sugar roll or alcohol wash. Having said that, your counts sound pretty high to me, but as I don’t use that counting method, perhaps others could weigh in?


My point was in gauging the performance of the queen in the hive and not in comparing the different species. Comparing the species of queens is a different matter again and I dare say there is scientific proof from test results having been done. All bee keepers who have tried different strains will have there preference for one reason or another.


We only have Italians! No imports allowed…but I guess that’s why we have no disease.


I don’t have imports either