I am going to set up five flow hives over the winter in anticipation of getting bees next year. I would like your opinion about the setup I have in mind. From the bottom up I have a Flow hive stand followed by a deep brood box, then a queen excluder followed by another deep super. This is for the bees’ own supply of honey for their own uninterrupted use. Next I will have the Flow box where I will harvest my own honey, followed by a medium super for use with feeders, supplements, etc. Finally, the beautiful flow lid. This differs from the typical Flow setup in that I have an additional deep super for the bees’ own supply of honey, plus the medium super for feed and supplement in lean times. Do you think this sounds like a good plan?
You might want to mention where you are at or your climate. Also I am a totally new beekeeper (this year!) but might I ask you you have the queen excluder between the Brood box and a Deep Super for the bees own honey vs. having 2 Deep Brood boxes (let them decide if they want to put brood or honey in them) and then the Queen Excluder between the top Deep and the Flow Frame Deep? Personally I’m in the western Nebraska and we need 2 Deep Brood boxes so the bees survive winter, so I went with the 1 Deep that came with my kit plus 2x more Mediums (less weight when full) and then I’ll have my excluder on top of those.
I see the reason for the medium for feeders and such, though haven’t tried that so no clue how it will work. Did I mention I’m new?
Now I’ll let others with much more experience than myself chime in and give you the right answers LOL!
Good point. I could just let them have the two bottom supers and let them decide how they want to set up housekeeping.
I’m in central Texas. Generally relatively mild but we do get hard freezes on occasion.
I use this feeder in the medium. Works great.https://www.dadant.com/catalog/m01508-ultimate-in-hive-feeder
Wow, 5 Flow hives! I assume you are not new to beekeeping then?
By “Flow hive stand” I assume that you mean the screened bottom board? This should probably go on top of a stand of some sort to raise it 12 - 15" off the ground, partly for ergonomics (don’t hurt your back looking in the bottom box) and partly to keep the landing board out of the reach of skunks and other bee eating critters.
As @techieg33k suggests, I would not put a queen excluder above the lowest box if you are going to leave the next box up on all year for bee food stores. The reason is that when you have a freeze, the bees will cluster, and if the cluster moves up through the queen excluder in search of food, the queen will freeze if she can’t follow. In your area, I agree that two brood boxes is a good idea all year round, but let the bees decide what they put in which of those two boxes. So no queen excluder until you have two full lower boxes.
Flow super on next is fine. I would suggest taking it off in winter to reduce the bees’ heating bill. Empty space is dead space that they have to heat, as heat rises. Don’t leave it on year round.
Medium super on top is OK if they need more space. I have mediums for my traditional hives, but I haven’t needed to put one on my Flow hive yet. My feeders won’t fit in a medium super (I use a pail feeder, which needs a deep box), but I actually prefer a hive top feeder with floats for serious feeding.
Well, being a nit-picky type, I would take issue with the word “typical”. Sorry! The additional deep is entirely normal for most states in the US keeping bees in Langstroth hives. The Flow hive is just an 8-frame Langstroth, with a built in harvest mechanism. All other aspects of beekeeping should be managed exactly as traditional beekeepers near you do things. So I think 2 deeps is a great idea, just move the queen excluder up one level.
Otherwise, I think you have a great setup. If you have never kept bees before, I would suggest starting with 2 or 3 hives. Five can be a lot of work and can get overwhelming until you have a routine. Please ask more questions if we can help with anything.
Hi Tami, best to check with local experienced beekeepers as well as those on the forum. To me it sounds like you have the idea that you should set up everything you described ahead of time, and then put bees in. Correct me if that’s not what you were saying, and forgive me if you already know this:
Bees need time to build their combs inside the hive boxes, and need to maintain a livable temperature as they go. That means you don’t start with a tall stack of boxes - just one. Adding a second brood box totally depends on your climate, and when to add it is when the box is 80-90% full of comb and bees - lots of detailed advice on that under Beekeeping Basics on this forum.
Rather than go on in case I’m mistaken about your plans, let me stop & see what you & others say
Just one question please … Have you been a beekeeper before next Spring 2017 ?? And I really HOPE your not starting your Nuc’s out at first in those wonderful Flow-Hive skyscrapers. That’s waaaaay too much room n space for a brand new colony n workers to deal with. Give us a few more hints n info. Ohhhh and as two others have mentioned the QE needs to be above the second box usually … Unless you have a special reason for that placement …
Wow ! Five ! I thot my single I just started was nice BUT FIVE … Awesome ! Good luck.
I have two traditional hives already. And yes, these will go on hive stands. I also will not be putting the second super on right away. That is for later when the first super is full. The medium super at the very top is just for bee nectar and supplements.
You all have offered great advise. Thanks so much!!!