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Overwintering strategy - How to leave honey behind but remove flow frames?


I’m new to beekeeping. I understand that the colony needs food overwinter to survive. I have two flow hives with the 7 Frame flow supers. So the bees fill the flow frames and I harvest some of this during the flow. Towards the end of the season I need to build up enough honey reserves for the bees to overwinter. However this honey is in the flow frames. I live in the southern UK and it’s cold enough that I think I should go down to one brood box per hive for overwintering and remove the flow frames.

So I have come up with 2 potential strategies and would appreciate your opinions.

A: I remove the flow frames towards the end of the season and replace them with normal frames in the super. The bees store honey which I don’t harvest but at the end of the season I remove the super and place the frames with honey in the middle of the brood box with bees.

B: I get a 3rd hive which is a standard Langstroth with a deep super that has frames the bees fill with honey, I never harvest this hive (I’m trying to avoid the usual extraction method). At the and of the season I remove the supers from all the hives and share out the honey from hive 3 amongst the brood boxes of all 3 hives.

I store my flow frames over winter.



I use 3 deep brood boxes that are solely for the bees. Honey supers are placed on top of these. In June/July I will remove the supers and extract them and let the bees work on filling their 3 deeps. If they are full as well, I may extract several frames out of the bees top deep, return those frames to them, and let them spend the rest of the season refilling in preparation for winter. The majority of the extracted medium frames get used for making early July splits and then next year I add more new frames to my honey supers giving me fresh wax for the new season.


Hi Red,

Never ran triples. Hmm … I get the reasoning I think. That gives you a larger work force thus more HONEY ! Where your at can you do that your first season ! ? As they need to build comb out, right. Been a bunch of years since I did this beekeeping.



So this would put your wintering Honey Suppy well over 80 lbs ?


The triple deep hives appear to be a full brood cycle ahead of the smaller hives coming out of winter. I believe the reasoning is the bottom box is full of pollen which is needed to raise brood.
I keep all size hives to continue the experiment. Last year I intended to take my two 10 frame triple deep hives and knock them down to doubles. They were so packed with bees in the early Spring that I added 4 undrawn honey supers to each one instead of breaking them down. One hive used the 4 supers and the other hive wound up with 6 when it was all said and done. I never have to feed these hives and when I need brood frames for starting nucs or for bolstering a weak hive, these big hives can recover oh so fast.

Where I am a 5 frame nuc can become a 3 deep hive by winter without ever having to feed them.


Thankz Red,

I am going to take this in advisement ! It sounds like a great system with great results. Wish I had my 3 new Nuc’s here already but they are scheduled for mid April. Our Spring 2016 is nearly out of the starting boxes here. Our first major pollen n nectar flow is about to happen. Native Indian Plum buds are popping this week. Wish my hives had bees.

Not going to sweat the later start but it’s just a wish. Bee deliveries is usually mid April here even 55 years ago. I get these 3 hives strong … I want to do several Nuc’s. I have built several 5 framers already in waiting but that’s probably a 2017 event. Need to get my beekeeping legs working first. Got a bit of catch up.

Again, Thankz for the great info n notes. I’ve copied so I can remember n review.

Have a great rest of the weekend,


Hi Graeme, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t leave the Flow Frames on top of your hive over winter as part of there stores. But make sure you add the Winter Super early rather than late, remember honey doesn’t spoil, so you can have your bees create their winter stores first and then under-super that with the Flow frames and harvest just the Flow.

B: I get a 3rd hive which is a standard Langstroth with a deep super that has frames the bees fill with honey.
I would not recommend you do this, if your hive develops a disease this will be passed on to all your other hives and you could lose the lot. Practise the barrier method where possible, keep all your hives and hive equipment separate from one another and avoid sharing tools, use your smoker to sterilise the hive tool between hives.
The general rule for winter is 1 frame of honey to 1 frame of brood. However, this will change depending on your climate. And when placing honey frames into the brood box for winter, the usual practice is the place them on the outsides of the brood box so the brood is kept together for warmth and the honey then acts as an insulative barrier. Hope this helps.


Wuss!!! :imp: Use your blowtorch that you used to LIGHT your smoker to sterilize your tools! Don’t forget to bring a pail of water and some burn cream… :smile:


Is intra apiary disease spread much of a problem really?
I swap frames about as needed, splits/stores. Drones move freely between all your hives after all.
IAll swarms are quarantined off site, mind)


I’ve read about how important pollen stores are to overwintering bees, especially at the start of the season. Also plays an important role in the bees immune system. Thanks for the sound advice.


Under-supering is a great idea. I take the bees are unlikely to uncap the honey in the full super and move it down to the flow frames. Would you leave the full super above the flow frames or is there any benefit moving it off and wrapping it up un plastic until needed later in the season?


In 42 years I’ve never sterilized anything to do with beekeeping. In 42 years I’ve never had a case of EFB or AFB or sacbrood or stonebrood. On one occasion when there was a late freeze I had a little chalkbrood. I’ve never treated for Nosema and never seen any evidence that would convince me my bees had it, though every spring there is some dysentery. More or less depending on how long they’ve been confined with no cleansing flight.

The cause of AFB spreading is usually moving contaminated equipment around, not hive tools.




I was joking about the blowtorch. But if you intend to sterilize tools, I am dubious about the effectiveness of a smoker. My husband likes to play with orchids, and we use a small blowtorch to sterilize the tools between plants, but orchids are notorious for passing viruses between them on tools. I had never heard of it being a concern with bees in an apparently healthy apiary.


I know :wink:

I agree